TechArt of Leonberg, Germany, conveniently situated in a nondescript outer part of the town that’s just a javelin’s throw away from Porscheplatz 1, is on a roll. For most premium car purveyors, anything post-economic global meltdown is obviously much more fun than the meltdown was. Here it’s even better though, since the premium segments are getting their groove back exactly at the time that tuning programs for Porsche’s Panamera are starting to sprout.
TechArt’s Managing Director Thomas Behringer is even getting really happy again. Talking with him in 2009 and 2010 was like helping a family member through tough times.
The large, black sweetheart autobahn missile you see here is a completely tricked-out TechArt Porsche Panamera Turbo GrandGT, first shown in initial cosmetic form at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. We’re the first to really have at it and this is a special unit that has been commissioned by a well-known Formula 1 driver who desires to remain anonymous. Not telling you is just killing me.
TechArt’s first stage tuning setup for the already decent Porsche-engineered M48 4.8-liter twin-turbo V8 gives the GrandGT 78 more horsepower and 96 more lb-ft of torque. These horses and torques are ready in either the Sport setup or Sport Plus of the Sport Chrono Package Turbo. You could skip all of this and just go for the exterior and interior personalization, but that would make you an A-number-1 poseur.
Whereas the standard Panamera Turbo has its two Japanese turbochargers maxing at 8.7 psi boost pressure and then 12.1 psi of boost when one snags the $2,280 Sport Chrono Package Turbo option, TechArt’s TA 070/T1 ECU upgrade makes normal full-automatic mode a 12.1-psi affair, while Sport and Sport Plus jack that up to 14.5.
So, the GrandGT is faster with the added max power peaking earlier and for longer, and added max torque peaking later than on the standard PT, though there’s more torque than on the standard car all the way from 2500 rpm through to 5800 rpm of the 6600-rpm redline range. Just as the standard car, however, quotes a conservative 4.0-second time to 60 mph in acceleration with Sport Chrono while some tests have experienced 3.5 seconds and less, I suspect that the TechArt 3.7-second estimate is destined to be more like a 3.3 or so.
Nothing has changed on the Porsche Active Suspension Management and adaptive air suspension with self-leveling, and the sensational dynamic active rollbars of Porsche Active Chassis Control continue wrestling this behemoth level around the highest lateral g-forces. Good items not to be messed with.
The factory-optional Zuffenhausen sport pipes out back are definitely nice, sure, but the quad-barreled sport exhaust just sort of knocks out windows in small Swabian villages by comparison. You hit the red Sport button or the all-out Sport Plus on the million-button console and the sonic boom reeks of TechArt having somehow bribed the boys at TV to turn a blind eye when reading the drive-by noise levels. It’s atrociously fantastic with the gas pedal having passed a fixed percentage of its travel.
And our semi-mysterious A.S. really likes Alcantara. The cabin made it as close to driving a well-crafted bathrobe as I can ever remember. So, whatever weight might have been dropped with the CFRP slatted hood, lightweight 22-inch forged wheels and such has been more than offset with all of the wild Alcantara hides slathering the interior of this blackness. TechArt’s saddlery has done its typically impeccable job. Besides the curl-up-and-snooze coziness of the four adult seating spots, I focus on the totally redone sport steering wheel, long a TechArt specialty. A.S. has opted for the thickest TechArt steerer dressing, puffed up further with the Alcantaraeven the spokes and centerpiece are dressed thusand the unit is a comfy and grippy piece to play with easily in the hands.
As TechArt had done with the original beauty-challenged Cayenne to make it pretty dang beautiful with the Magnum body kit, the GrandGT Aero Kit I does the same here for the hotly debated Panamera. The primarily CFRP-based body kit adds necessary width and profile stance to the car. Front fender pieces add almost an inch to both sides, while in back the haunches grow out a whole 1.75 inches on each side. Appropriate spacers have been inserted at the corners to fill up those new wheelwells, too.
Both the optional CFRP hood with breathing slats and the GT3-looking optional 55.1-inch wide TechArt fixed rear spoiler II with Gurney flap go a long way to adding some needed character to this really large 928-look copycat. All intake and vent inserts are in carbon fiber.
Given Porsche’s sensational PASM and PACC specifically over-engineered for the Panamera Turbo, the added rapidity and personality of this GrandGT is handled with complete naturalness. I managed a couple of spurts near 170 mph where possible and the smooth Swabian roads were a perfect match for the forged 22-inch TechArt Formula III wheels and ContiSportContact3 tires at 265/30-ZR22 front, 305/25-ZR22 rear. The aero kit did the trick at these highest speeds, too, and only the lack of road in front of me kept me from reaching or exceeding comfortably the 196-mph v-max. TechArt uses its own design of PDK paddles as well that are better than the Porsche paddle shape. And, of course, even these touchy bits are dipped in the Alcantara witch’s brew.
Being the creators of the whole Tequipment sub-brand of Porsche factory customization, TechArt on this GrandGT also had the optional PCCB discs for stopping hardera nearly mandatory option on this 4,500-pound baby.
The whole feel of this particular black storm is a very personal one since I personally would never get quite this excited about Alcantara and custom red detailing. But, to repeat, TechArt does the best job in the business if your factory Porsche is feeling a little too standard issue for you and the economic crush of the past two years somehow spared you. Hell, even pop, like this owner did, for the 10.2-inch roof-mounted digital TV-DVD screen andyou guessed itAlcantara-choked rear tables.
Best news, besides not having to get yours stuffed with Alcantara, is that General Manager Behringer assures me that the stage II tuning setup, to be shown first at this September’s Frankfurt show, along with other goodies, will take the GrandGT to 690 hp (SAE) and 700 lb-ft of torque. And with the opening of the new TechArt USA offices and warehouse in Irvine, Calif., TechArt is making every effort to start bringing over every possible tuning package it creates instead of settling for aero kits, wheel sets, and other complementary bits.
TechArt Panamera Turbo GrandGT
4.8-liter V8 dohc, 32-valve, twin-turbocharged, per cylinder w/ Porsche VarioCam Plus intake, ECU with TechArt Techtronic TA 070/T1 reprogramming via Sport/Sport Plus buttons; MHI turbochargers uprated from 12.1 psi to 14.5 psi max; carbon-look engine cover; Porsche Sport Chrono Package Turbo; TechArt sport exhaust
Seven-speed PDK automated manual
Front: aluminum double-wishbone axle; rear: aluminum multi-link axle supported on subframe; adaptive air suspension w/ self-leveling; Porsche Active Suspension Management; normal, sport and sport plus mapping; active Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control antiroll bars
Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes, 16.1-inch diameter front and 13.8-inch diameter rear rotors; six-piston red TechArt aluminum calipers front, four-piston rear; all-wheel drive with Porsche Traction Management; Porsche Stability Management
Wheels and Tires
TechArt Formula III forged alloy, 9.5x22 (f), 11x22 (r); spacers
Continental ContiSportContact3, 265/30 (f), 305/25 (r)
TechArt GrandGT Aero Kit I: modified front and rear aprons w/ integrated intakes and carbon-fiber diffuser, grille and splitter inserts in carbon fiber, extended side skirts, roof spoiler, flared fenders f/r, CFRP Aero engine hood, 55.1x9.8-inch fixed TechArt rear spoiler II w/ Gurney flap; headlamp/taillamp trims; all air-duct inserts in carbon fiber
Black Alcantara covering everything possible and red stitching, TechArt sport steering wheel with TechArt paddle shifters, TechArt carbon interior kit, all dials in black with red numbers, 10.2-inch roof-mounted entertainment kit, rear fold-away tables, TechArt aluminum pedals
Peak Power: 571 hp @ 5350 rpm
Peak Torque: 612 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm
0-60 mph (w/Sport Chrono): 3.7 sec.
Top Speed: 196 mph