My Porsche Panamera Turbo test model arrived on the back of a big truck on a Monday morning. By Wednesday afternoon I still hadn't got into it. Why? Because everything about this car is intimidating - from its size (196in by 76in), to the base price (£95,298, though my options-packed model was £111,944). Then there's the double-clutch gearbox (the seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe), the Burmester surround-sound stereo (16 loudspeakers 'masterminded' by 16 amplifier channels, with an overall output of 1,000 Watts), and the number of cows stabbed to make the plush cognac/cedar natural two-tone leather interior.
If you haven't driven one before, you can no more pop yourself behind the wheel of a Panamera than you can hop into a 747 and fly it, or casually invite Michael Winner to dine at your new restaurant. Preparation is required.
And preparation in this case involved: an hour studying the manual; several hours studying the car through my living-room window (like most celebrities, and unlike most journalists, it looks better in the flesh than in photos); and at least half an hour sitting in it, working out what all the buttons and stalks did, and getting accustomed to the lavish interior, the poshest thing this side of the Sanderson Hotel.
Eventually, I summoned the courage to start it up, a process more bewildering than you'd expect. The car has a keyless go system, so that it senses that you are the owner and just goes - except that, to get it started, you need to turn a switch on the dashboard that exactly resembles ... a key. Which seems self-defeating, somehow.
Also, after a few yards of travel the car stopped. Came to a complete, deathly quiet standstill. I thought it had stalled. But, no, the Panamera, it transpires, is fitted with an eco automatic stop/start system - apparently the first in 'a premium car with an automatic transmission' - which helps keep fuel economy at manageable levels.
The biggest surprise, though, came when I finally got to put my foot down. I expected it to be fast, but fast in the way a 911 Turbo is fast. After all, it looks like an enlarged version of the classic supercar, and it's being marketed as a four-seat alternative. But it turns out to be fast in the way that a Bentley or BMW limousine might be fast. Indeed, it's less an expanded 911 than a Cayenne that has been brought down to earth, and the desirability of this car comes down to whether you think that is a good thing or not.
I'll take one ...
Less 911 than Cayenne.
Looks good in the flesh.
Thanks but no thanks ...
More Cayenne than 911.
Porsche Panamera Turbo £95,298
Engine 4.8-litre V8
Combined power 500 bhp at 6,000 rpm
Torque 700 Nm at 2,250 rpm
Transmission 7-speed automatic
Fuel 23.2 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 286 g/km
0-62 mph 4.2 secs
Top speed 188 mph