GREAT DRIVES IN CORNWALL: PORSCHE PANEMERA

PUBLISHED: 11:39 12 November 2014 | UPDATED: 13:07 30 August 2017

Clovelly-1

Clovelly-1

The Porsche Panamera doesn’t seem to get much love. However, to dismiss it as a squashed and raked 911 would be a little short sighted

The Porsche Panamera doesn’t seem to get much love from the British Press. However, to dismiss it as a squashed and raked 911 would be a little short sighted.

Positioned in the niche, four-door super-car class with competition from Maserati, Aston Martin and Bentley, the Panamera is by far the preferred car for me. Appealing to the chap who needs to update his sports car to meet family needs but doesn’t want to plump for an austere BMW 7-Series or Mercedes S-Class, this niche is all about having interior comfort for four with the performance of a super-car.

This particular Panamera also has a few tricks up its sleeve; identified by lime green brake calipers and subtle bodywork details, the model tested was an S-E Hybrid variant. In Porsche’s attempt to gain some green’ credentials, this super-car is actually a plug-in electric vehicle with battery power being boosted by a 3.0 litre V6 petrol engine.

Combined performance, when required, is certainly impressive with both power trains combining to provide 416 bhp. However, whilst offering a top speed of close to 170 mph it also offers over 90 mpg! By far the most compelling electric / petrol hybrid car I have driven to date, this Panamera really does offer a glimpse into motoring in a decade’s time.

Mated to a silky smooth 8 speed gearbox you could either drive in stealth’ electric mode for up to ten minutes or use the petrol engine to propel you along. It would be entirely possible to use the E-Hybrid as a full electric car if you had charging points both at work and home, with the petrol engine making driving that little bit more engaging at the weekends!

Tested in a stunning Yachting Blue metallic, the exterior styling soon grows on you. Whereas its competitors can look a little flash, the Panamera - particularly in this colour - looked subtle and extremely classy.

Inside, the interior is loaded with all the gadgets and toys you would expect of a £90,000 executive barge such as an S-Class, with impeccable Porsche build quality and individual ergonomics: for example the rev counter still dominates the dial binnacle a la the 911!

Living with the Panamera was a pleasure. Whilst the rear seats are contoured to suit high flying executives they also happily accommodate two child seats. The boot is designed, I am sure, for a couple of sets of golf clubs but also easily swallows a double children’s buggy and all the paraphernalia to complete a family day out.

Driving dynamics again felt very mainstream Germanic quality rather than low volume super-car. Superbly poised and flexible suspension tracked a perfect path between pointy super-car and luxurious executive saloon.

The Route:

There is nothing like an idyllic summer holiday on the Cornish coast and steaming down to one of Britain’s most beautiful counties via the motorways and main highways may maximise your time in the sun, it can also lose some of the romantic anticipation of your holiday. So maybe follow our Great Drive and integrate this journey into your holiday.

Travelling south on the M5 leave the motorway at Bridgwater, junction 23 and pick up the A39 through some of the most spectacular scenery that Somerset has to offer. With the Quantock Hills dominating the landscape, pass through the pretty village of Nether Stowey and then the charming hamlet of Holford. The idyllic church of St Audrey’s at West Quantoxhead always draws my eye as we pass.

On arriving in Williton, turn right onto the A39 for a short blast to Dunster. Great for exploring both the castle and the village but if the weather is right, the beach is the most relaxed in the area. Who can resist a visit to the steam train sheds at Minehead before pressing on to Porlock and the steep assent up onto Exmoor that used to defeat so many cars before the Second World War.

Now another change of landscape, but with faster open roads, the A39 hugs the cliffs and provides bleak but beautiful views across the moors. Now in Devon, descend Countisbury Hill into Lynmouth, enjoying more views out to sea. Situated between the West Lyn and East Lyn rivers, and often referred to as England’s little Switzerland’, Lynmouth is a charming village for a pause in proceedings. Take a ride on the water-powered funicular cliff railway that joins the town with its twin, Lynton, high up on the cliffs, or stroll along the small harbour flanked by the famous Rhenish Tower that harks back to the herring trade that once sustained the community.

Refreshed, press on, following the A39 that often feels more like a single track B-road. Once out of the valley, the road opens out with some picturesque scenery and fast straights with beautiful overhanging trees that give glimpses of the sunshine above. At the junction with the A399, there is a choice to be made: either turn right and take the scenic route to Barnstaple, via the surfing holiday destinations of Ilfracombe, Woolacombe, Croyde, Saunton and Braunton or continue straight over to remain on the A39 and head directly to Barnstaple. I particularly enjoy a stroll on the beach at Saunton.

From Barnstaple pick up the A361 to rejoin the A39 with signposts for Bideford. One of Devon’s main holiday arteries you soon find yourself traveling over the River Torridge with views out to sea and the North Devon Maritime Museum in the distance. With signs for Westward Ho! soon afterwards you know you are on the final straight to the Cornish border.

But before you leave the Devon coast and follow the A39 into Cornwall, I have a final treat for you: Clovelly is one of the most charming coastal villages in the UK as tourism has virtually passed it by. Part of the Clovelly Estate, which was a gift to Sir John Rous by Charles II in the 17th century as a sign of the King’s appreciation of his subject’s loyalty during his exile, today the Clovelly Estate is still in the same family with yet another John Rous at the helm.

Colourful fishing boats fill the harbour that can trace its origins back to the 14th century and is complete with cannons, which could’ be from wrecked Spanish Armada ships! The Red Lion Hotel was originally a beer house for the local fishermen and villagers but has been sympathetically updated and now boasts 11 charming hotel rooms. Also within the walls is the Snug Bar, with shades of the original ale house, as well as a fantastic restaurant, specialising in local seafood.

Clovelly has to be one of the most idyllic places to end a Great Drive and in this case the perfect start to a Cornish summer holiday!

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