Shopping Bags take on Panamera
Considering the negative baggage inherent of the name, you’d need to be pretty confident ladies in your vision and abilities calling yourselves The Shopping Bags.
Likewise, given the synonymous nature of the name Porsche with two-seat sports cars, you’d have to be deadly certain your engineers and designers got it right when you set out to produce a four-door sedan.
If the Porsche Panamera comes anywhere near the success Anna Wallner and Kristina Matisic have enjoyed building their product-testing empire this past decade, it might even stop ol’ Ferry Porsche from spinning in his Austrian grave at the prospect of a four-door Porsche car. Of course, the Cayenne SUV started the legendary German sports car builder down the four-door road some eight years ago, but the long and lean Panamera pays truer homage to the marquee’s iconic design cues and Teutonic temperament.
“It feels nice to be in this car, but I’m not just getting a real sense of style,” Wallner is saying as she pilots a black-on-espresso Panamera S along Kitsilano’s Fourth Avenue shopping district, Matisic riding shotgun. “It’s like they took what’s good with a 911 and stuck it on this other thing.”
“It is a bit weird looking,” agrees Matisic.
But as usual with this pair, their product instincts are bang on. When the shroud of secrecy finally came off the long-awaited and decades-speculated Porsche sedan at the 2009 Shanghai Automobile Show last April, the world’s motoring press couldn’t help but ask about that bulbous rear end.
“It seems like they really tried to make it look like a 911,” Wallner continues, opening up the 400-horsepower V8 engine a little as we head out towards UBC.
“But it sure is nice to drive.”
And while “Strange looking but a blast to drive” is unlikely to win Porsche’s marketing team any year-end euros, that in essence is what the Panamera is — an incredibly advanced piece of driving equipment sheathed in a body that looks great from some angles and not so great from others.
The initial launch of the Panamera late last year featured three models: the S, the 4S and the Turbo. Last month, two base models — the Panamera and Panamera 4 — were introduced to the Canadian marketplace. Each are powered by an all-new 300-horsepower 3.6-litre V6 and come standard with Porsche’s seven-speed double-clutch gearbox, with the Panamera a rear-wheel drive configuration and the 4 an all-wheel drive setup.
Wallner and Matisic were introduced as young reporters at Vancouver’s Global TV in the 1990s. A mutual love of shopping soon turned into the idea for The Shopping Bags show, a fast-paced show that provided consumers with real information without the hype.
“After five years of working together at Global we decided to see if we could make it on our own,” explains Wallner, who grew up in Don Mills, Ont., and came west to attend university in Vancouver.
“There really wasn’t anything like it on TV at the time,” adds Matisic, who apart from two years in L.A. to get her Master’s degree has called the city home since she was one.
The concept proved a success, in large part thanks to the onscreen chemistry between the two, something that judging from our drive around Kits extends to when the cameras turn off.
Just as the Panamera has suffered the slings and arrows of critique, so too did the Bags in the early days.
“We got a lot of flak when we started this, people said we’d just be at the mall shopping for stuff we don’t really need,” says Wallner. “But it’s turned out to be just the opposite.”
Explains Wallner of the show’s philosophy: “I don’t really like shopping, but I love getting the right thing at a good price.”
The duo hung up their Shopping Bags show and personas a year or so ago, and have since focused on two new shows: the all-things-food-related Anna & Kristina’s Grocery Bag and Anna & Kristina’s Beauty Call, where the pair test beauty products and fashion items.
“We had always intended to spin off Shopping Bags into specific areas, as a way of keeping what we do fresh for ourselves and our viewers,” Wallner continues, with Matisic adding, “And we’re also branching out as a production company and working on projects that we will not be in.”
One project that they have speculated on, and one that involves driving, which they both like to do, is to enter TV’s The Amazing Race as a team.
“I don’t think you could give up navigating,” says Wallner to her friend, “so I think I’d have to drive. Plus I wouldn’t be able to live with the guilt of a wrong decision. And I drive faster.”
“I don’t think so” “I do.” “Nope.”
What both could agree on is that the Panamera is a wonderful and truly Porsche-like car to drive — “the seats are very comfortable” each offered — but there’s just something about the packaging.
Style: Front engine, rear-wheel drive, four-door luxury sedan Seats: Four
Engine: 4.8-litre V8 (400 hp) Transmission: 7-speed PDK (double-clutch)
Fuel economy (L/100km): 12.9 city; 8.3 hwy
Competition: BMW 760Li, Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes-Benz CLS63, Aston Martin Rapide
Anna: “One thing I’m thankful for is my mother teaching me how to drive a stick-shift right out of the gate. I was driving my mother’s Honda Accord. My dad had a Saab but the only time I could drive it is if I stole it in the middle of the night. I didn’t have my own car until I was about 25, and that was a red Mazda Precidia hatchback. Oh, that car made me so happy.”
Kristina: “I didn’t get my driver’s licence until relatively late, at 19.” Wallner interjects, “I did not know that about you. I was like 16 and one day.”
“Nope, I was scared to drive at first,” continues Matisic without missing a beat. “But when I went to school in L.A. my parents gave me their old Toyota Tercel. When I graduated I drove it home to Vancouver on its last legs, and I could only stop in either a hotel or a gas station, because it often wouldn’t start without a boost.”
“It’s a 2006 Audi A4, and it’s the first car I’ve bought new and also the first car I’ve owned that is an automatic. We do a lot of driving around in our world and I do tend to, umm, do other things when I’m driving. ” (Note to VPD: she’s now a hands-free convert).
“It’s a 2004 Mini and it’s been great, with no problems at all. Touch wood. As soon as they came out I just fell in love with them, and we did a small car comparison piece for the show and I drove one for a day. It’s surprisingly spacious, and I’ve put a lot of bizarre things in the trunk of my car. Including Anna.” (For a Shopping Bags segment.)
Photograph by: Arlen Redekop, CNS