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"It’s been a few months since the Panamera was last spotted, so we were thrilled when our photographer caught this convoy in South Africa a couple of days ago," says spy shooter Brenda Priddy.

Porsche will officially unveil the Panamera at the 2009 Geneva Auto Show and expects it to compete with the Mercedes-Benz CLS and forthcoming Aston Martin Rapide and Volkswagen four-door coupe models. Though the Panamera takes design elements from the 911 range, unlike the 911 the Panamera will feature a choice of three front-mounted engines, set as far as to the car's center as possible.

Priddy says the entry-level powerplant will be Volkswagen’s 300hp 3.5L six-cylinder, while Porsche’s own drivetrain will be a direct-injection eight-cylinder available naturally aspirated (350 hp) or with twin turbo (560 hp). That should be enough to hold the competition at bay for awhile, although if Mercedes-Benz decides to turn up the wick on the CLS, Porsche could fire back with the GT Carerra's 600hp 10-cylinder engine option.

Porsche intends the Panamera to be a true sportscar with the utility of a four-door family car, and easy access to a good-size luggage compartment. The automaker hopes to sell 20,000 Panameras annually, putting it over the 100,000 units per year mark.

Photo Credit: Errol Corrigan for Brenda Priddy & Co.