The first second-generation Porsche Panamera I ever spotted was missing its front end. It was still distinctly more attractive than the first-generation Porsche Panamera ever was.
My house is near the CN Autoport in Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. Dozens of stevedores drive mostly European-built new vehicles off Wallenius Wilhelmsen ships toÂ parking lots near a main road, incidentally known as Main Road. Typically, if I time my drives past justÂ right, I see long lines of new cars, such as the British-built Honda Civic Hatchback or the Volvo V90, weeks before a single one arrives at your local dealer.
Ever so slightly closer to my home than the Autoport itself is a smaller building where the damaged vehicles go. Today, there’s a Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, sans rear bumper, parked outside. A few months ago, mere seconds before feasting my eyes upon a line of second-gen Porsche Panameras, I saw the aforementioned damaged Panamera. “Maaaaaan, that car is pretty.”
And then I remembered the old Panamera, vomiting a bit in my throat at the thought. And then I saw Porsche’s April 2017 U.S. sales figures. Scroll down, scroll down, there it is: Panamera. 1,098 sales.
Double its typical monthly output. 26-percent better than its previous best. Triple April 2016’s volume.
And proof people prefer pretty.
Full disclaimer: beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Porsche sold more than 44,000 copies of the first Porsche PanameraÂ in the United States since its 2009 debut â€” and surely not all of those buyers approached the car backward and blindfolded until they sat inside, content inÂ the knowledge that “It’s a Porsche.”
Likewise, there may be some who find the new Panamera’s smoother surfacing and pinched rear end, horizontal taillights, and generally more cohesive styling too milquetoast; too run of the mill; too inconspicuous.
Regardless of the beliefs of a few outliers, it’s safe to say Porsche did more than merely tidy up the Panamera’s lines for MY2017. It’s what the Panamera should have been to begin with, a proper Porsche four-seater that isn’t an SUV and isn’t offensive to the eyes.
That’s not to say the Panamera was an uncommonly popular luxury sedan in April 2017. Mercedes-Benz S-Class sales rose 12 percent to 1,491 units last month, for example. HybridCars.com estimates that Tesla Model S sales fell 29 percent to 1,200 units.
The Panamera nevertheless outsold the BMW 7 Series. The Panamera outsold the Audi A8, Jaguar XJ, and Lexus LSÂ combined. The Panamera also outsold much less costly large luxury cars such as the Lincoln Continental and Cadillac CT6.
But the way the Panamera competed with competitors is not the point. No, the point is the pretty new Panamera embarrassed the ugly old Panamera.
All too often we accuse popular cars of succeeding in spite of their faulty designs. The tenth-generation Honda Civic, for instance, which by no means holds a candle to great looking Honda sedans such as the 2004-2008 Acura TL, is America’s second-best-selling car and well on its way to clinching the title ofÂ best-selling car in Canada for 2017. The current Prius is an egregious effort on Toyota’s part, but even in decline, the Prius is still the most popular hybrid in America. Indeed, the first Porsche Cayenne was a crime against the Porsche 356’s memory, but the hugely successful first-gen Cayenne helped make Porsche what it is today.
So isn’t it nice whenÂ an automaker can enjoy great success with a new car precisely because it’s much more attractive than the last one? Sure, there was some pent-up demand for the new, long-awaited Panamera and deliveries could therefore be weighted toward the launch phase, but that would still only serve to prove that thereÂ is greater demand forÂ this car.
Yes, thisÂ car. In a market that’s turned away from cars to the tune of an 11-percent year-over-year drop in April 2017, in Porsche showrooms that saw sales of the brand’s three other cars drop 13 percent, Porsche Panamera sales climbed higher than ever before.
It’s going to get even better. The Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo is the real stunner.
Timothy Cain is the founder ofÂ GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.