Ducati Panigale V4 S test


4 cylinders in V, 1103 cm3, 214 hp at 13,500 rpm, 124 Nm at 10,000 rpm, 195 kilos with full tank, from € 27,990

This V4 wants to cut the cards in the world of Hypersport

A family resemblance ? This is what we can tell ourselves when we look at the new Ducati Panigale V4 S, which is presented to us today on the MotoGP circuit in Valencia (Spain). It is true that the V4 presents this paradox: aesthetically, it is in the lineage of the Panigale family (appeared in 2012, first in 1199), with the same general line, even if the V4 has some more sharp features. and, while technologically, it marks a real breakthrough.

Ducati Panigale V4 S review

In the history of road and sport Ducati where the V2 reigns supreme, the V4 was either an anomaly (the 1260 Apollo Cruiser prototypes) or the exception (the road Desmosedici RR, produced in 1,500 units). Little by little, the V4 has established itself as a logical turning point if it does not become obvious: on the one hand, the V2 Superbike are a little at the end of their development against the 4 cylinders of the competition and the ogre Kawasaki who take it all; on the other, the affiliation with GP machines. A lineage that is not just a marketing pretext, but which is also based on many points in common with racing machines (engine design, geometry, electronics).

Hence the Panigale V4, which is not going to play it low profile and which has no other ambition than to become the benchmark in the world of Superbike, everywhere in the world and mainly in the most promising markets for this. machine type, which are USA, Australia, Britain, Germany and Italy. France is not to be outdone with a forecast of 500 units in 2018, all versions combined.

If from the outside the affiliation with the Panigales is undeniable, inside everything has changed

And in addition to a technology that can already make more than one salivate, it starts with a weight / power ratio that KOs the rest of the competitors: with 195 kilos for 214 horses (admittedly, it’s an 1100 when the others are 1000), it announces the color with a weight / power ratio of 1.10 horsepower per kilo (and even 1.20 with the Ducati Performance kit). It doesn’t laugh at all. Note that the V4 does not mean the end of V2: Ducati remains attached to this engine architecture and the V2 will remain in production, with the 959 Panigale and the 1299 Panigale R Final Edition.

In short, it’s deep blue, 21 ° C at the end of January: the cream of the international press is invited for this first test. Sixteen machines (Panigale V4 S in original configuration) plus four others fitted with the Ducati Performance kit (Akrapovic exhaust released, 226 hp – 12 more -, 188 kilos – 7 less – and Pirelli SuperDiablo Corsa SC1 slick tires) , which we will also have the opportunity to try during a full session are lined up in the pits. At the end of the straight line, we will not have already done a hundred meters that it smells of war: it is full of tire tracks of off-road pilots, including those left by Marc Marquez during the last GP of the year, when he almost put the cabin on the dog and he found himself in perdition, posed on the knee at 154 km / h. For the average tester, this is a special moment: we experience it with a mixture of fear and excitement. It’s called excitapeur (that’s a new word I just made up). But no room for feelings. At work !

16 'standard' V4S and 4 'Ducati Performance' kites await us in the pits


Red motorcycles go faster, it is well known. That’s good: the Panigale V4 is red. Finally, especially the standard version (from € 22,490) as well as the S of our test (from € 27,990 therefore, including in addition forged rims, an Alcantara saddle, a Lithium battery weighing only 900 grams, as well as Ohlins piloted suspensions), the range being overseen by the Speciale (from 39,900 euros, with the Ducati Performance kit consisting of an Akrapovic exhaust and a map bringing the power to 226 horsepower, parts in carbons and others cut in the mass, as well as a specific color).

This is the S version that we were able to test

Those who find the V2 family resemblance should look at the V4 in detail: check out that rear shell, with the lights built into the pillars and those air vents, it’s just beautiful. The exhaust is also well integrated into the lower fairing, although the covers that are supposed to protect the rider from the heat do not necessarily appear to be graceful..

The design is always so neat

But as long as we do and strengthen the connection with the GP machine, if I had been in the design for Ducati, I would have stuck a pair of fins on it, like that damn V4.

In any case, nothing to say: everything about this machine exudes performance and speed.

In the saddle

The 5-inch diagonal TFT screen is new in its interface and we find ourselves with an extremely readable system, with the rev counter in the central position and the gear indicator clearly visible within it.

New 5-inch TFT screen provides good visibility

The ergonomics of the commodos is to be cited as an example: according to, again, a new interface inaugurated on the Multistrada 1260, it is easy to navigate in the modes (Street, which already gives access to 214 horses, but with a softer response to the ride- by-wire, Sport and Race) then in the detail of the menus, to refine the level of each parameter if necessary.

Since the BMW S1000RR of 2009, we know that electronics have turned the everyday life of bikers crazy about sports upside down with a double skill: to offer an ecosystem capable of allowing this power to pass while at the same time and it is paradoxical when you think about it, providing additional security. The butter and the money of butter in short (even if competitors also offer a speed limit mode in the pit-lane).

In addition to technical developments, the V4 is also full of technologies

With a creamer made in the plastic of the Panigale V4, it’s a full box. In fact, you have to familiarize yourself with the electronics a bit before you go. In terms of safety, the Panigale V4 offers the total: belt, shoulder straps and parasailing! With a 6-axis inertial unit, we actually have, in addition to the engine maps, an ABS Corner Evo, traction control (DTC EVO), an up & down shifter (DQS), wheeling control (DWC EVO), a launch control (DPL) and an engine brake management mode (EBC EVO). That makes them acronyms, but just remember this: nothing should happen to you! But we will see a little later that the search for ultimate performance also involves the ability to be able to play with one’s helpers. !

And besides that ? The saddle is 830mm high; As you can imagine, the ergonomics are sporty, but the driving position is not among the most radical of its kind. Even if the Panigale V4 seems to be a compact machine, you don’t feel stuck on its handlebars.

Engine and transmission

Close to MotoGP! And it’s not just marketing. Indeed, the new 90 ° V4 has some characteristics which are directly derived from the GP machine. This is the case of its bore (81 mm), which corresponds to that of the racing machine. It also has a counter-rotating crankshaft to promote agility and stability and the block is also tilted 42 ° rearward for perfect weight distribution. This V4 weighs only 64.9 kilos (2.2 more than the V2) while being more compact (38 mm shorter and 28 mm lower).

The new 90 ° V4 takes over some features of the MotoGP engine

Power side, we will not complain with 214 horses at 13,000 rpm and 124 Nm at 10,000 rpm (but a smooth curve from 9 to 12,000 rpm). Approved at 107 dB at 6500 rpm, its sound is unique: we are not here on the muffled barks of an Aprilia RSV4 or the deep growls of the Crossplane of a Yamaha R1. It’s a bit in between, with a lack of inertia when the gas hits the gas which suggests a good liveliness in the laps, especially as this engine extends the stride up to 14,500 rpm. Despite this, it will be content with a major overhaul every 24,000 kilometers.

The 6-speed gearbox is associated with the DQS EVO, an up & down shifter (it is not possible to downshift above 13,000 rpm to avoid the risk of over-revving). If the downshift is impeccable, there were, sometimes, a few micro-problems with the upshift. The DQS works very well at full load, but can sometimes be a little more hesitant when you mod a little with the throttle.

The 6-speed gearbox is associated with a DQS EVO up & down shifter

In the city

No city on this test, necessarily. As little as we have been able to judge, the controls are quite smooth and the V4 seems quite flexible at low revs. We see things in the mirrors. The turning radius seems better than that of a supertanker. We will tell you about it again as soon as we pick one up during a test drive.

On motorways and main roads

The same. No freeway on this test. Sorry. But on the track, we took 280 km / h and it does it pretty well.

On departmental

The same, of course. We just had time to check the speed / speed equivalents: it will make a small 3500 rpm at 90 km / h in sixth gear. We will talk about this again in a subsequent test drive.

On the track, of course !

Five sessions on the Valencia GP circuit, that’s the main course! From the first laps, the Panigale V4 seduces with its agility and ease of diving at rope point. That’s the first positive impression.

Agile, the Panigale leaves a positive impression from the first laps

The second is that in the Ducati Superbike family, the big twins have always had a special positioning and character. Efficient, but demanding, they require both real driving hygiene and real determination on the handlebars to show the machine who is the boss. From experience, I remember that when testing the big Ducati twins, the first session was a bit of a grimace: time to warm up, to take your marks on the circuit and to measure the motorbike, we suffer a little on the handlebars, even saying to ourselves, sometimes, that we no longer know how to ride a motorbike, before putting things in order from the second session. Not like that with the Panigale V4, with which it’s already knee to the ground in every corner from the second lap. And that is a gesture that says a lot.

The V4 is much easier to take than the old V2

Once we have returned from this unprecedented agility for a big Ducati Superbike, we focus on the rest, in this case this piece of goldsmithing that is this V4. Consistent from mid-range, it is less brutal than the V2 and lengthens the stride with finesse. But beware: not soft. In "sport" mode, past 10,000 rpm, the anti-wheeling has trouble keeping the front wheel on the ground in second and it still wiggles the handlebars in third. And this, at stratospheric speeds: the second sends indeed up to 185 km / h, the third to more than 235 km / h, the fourth to around 260 km / h. In the short straight line (876 m) from Valencia, we enter a little "teleportation" mode: no time to say phew that we find ourselves at more than 280 km / h in fifth, with the gravel trap in line of sight.

Less brutal, the engine remains powerful, allowing to exceed 280 km / h in the short straight line of the Valencia circuit.

The electronics are complex, as we have said: the inertial unit controls the arrival of power according to the angle taken, the gear selected, the speed of the throttle opening, the driving mode. All this is not done to the detriment of sensations, communicative thanks to a man / machine interface which remains transparent. We then praise the finesse of the management of the by-wire, which makes it possible to dive into turn 9 at 160 km / h, at 12,000 rpm in second while reaching the point of rope with precision on a thread of gas (big , the net, at this speed), we praise the liveliness of the machine at the change of angle for turn 10, to the right. On a go-around, the traction control indicator light (in orange, on the top left of the TFT screen) activates without the feeling of acceleration being curtailed. Note that the DSC, the Ducati Slide Control, allows drifts under acceleration.

Electronic interventions never interfere with piloting

As the pace increases, the Panigale V4 reveals other facets of its personality. With my 45th daughter, I sometimes had trouble maintaining support on the footrests. Everything is fine at the start, then when you are a little unsettled on a big braking, for example, the very small size of the footrests and the weakness of the space around make it not always obvious or instantaneous. find the appropriate support. Likewise, while one can only sing the praises of this agile machine, the fact remains that it ends up being a little physical on the attack. Indeed, even in "race" mode, the piloted suspensions do not quite channel movements under acceleration; however, we must recognize that we have 214 horses to go to the ground.

Although agile, the V4 remains a Panigale and still requires commitment to the attack

Or even 226 horses, with the Ducati Performance pack. We had the right to a full session on a machine equipped in this way and mounted in slicks: against all expectations, it is easier. The slicks work less and allow the power to pass without parasitic movements, the suspension collects better and the machine is even more agile and precise and thus demonstrates its full potential. So you know what’s left for you to do.


MotoGP inspiration, again and again. The V4 is carrier and a light aluminum frame (weighing only 4 kilos) connects it to its front axle. Lightness was central to the specification, with a rear frame loop weighing just 1.9 kilograms and a swingarm that only weighs 5.1 kilograms. Even the headlight optics have been redesigned: 700 grams, that’s 500 less than on the V2! The standard exhaust weighs 9.7 kilograms and the tank (just like on the GP machine, part of the gasoline is located under the saddle for better weight distribution), weighs only 3.1 kilograms.

Even the headlight optics saved weight

On the standard Panigale, the suspensions are handled by Sachs, with a BPF fork (43mm) up front, a single shock and a steering damper all coming from the same dairy. On our test S, these are Ohlins piloted suspensions (steering damper again, plus a NIX 30 at the front and a TTX 36 at the rear, the best of its kind).

A historical look at the mass distribution tells us that a 1098 was 50/50. A value which increased to 47% on the rear and 53% on the front on a Panigale 1299 S and which is now at 45.5 / 54.5 on this Panigale V4. Which leads a specialist in the brand to say that modesty prevents us from saying that "Ducatis are like girls, you have to put their backs up" (!). The expression holds up well to the test of the facts, but risks a #balancetonporc ?

Well no ! It’s # balancelapuree, above all! Because, on the tire side, we are dealing with a new generation of Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa, with 120/70 x 17 at the front and 200/60 x 17 at the rear (the latter having a larger footprint of 4, 5 mm than the previous generation, to better transfer power to the ground). And above all, all the geometry changes: to pass the power, the swingarm has been lengthened (600 mm) and the ribs (wheelbase, caster angle) are more open. Despite this, we retain agility, thanks to the positioning of the engine in the frame, the counter-rotating crankshaft, the electronic engine brake management systems.

The swing arm has been lengthened


New on this machine: a new device made in Brembo, called Stylema. It is still a 4-piston radial technology, which is intended to be more rigid while being 70 grams lighter than the previous generation M50s.

The Valencia circuit has two big brakes: the first is obviously at the end of the straight line. Having given up on pretense a long time ago, I easily admit that I am not the best brakeman in the world. However, when you arrive under the "200 m" sign at 280 km / h, with a ball that starts to climb in the throat, you take the brakes and the level of power, precision and feeling of the Brembo Stylema is simply astounding. , since not only does it pass, but in addition we say to ourselves that we could have lengthened the brake hold by a few meters. The piloted suspensions do their part of the job, with a perfectly controlled mass transfer, a fork that absorbs the stress wonderfully and a rear that has the good taste not to sweep the track..

In short, you have to see it to believe it. Suddenly, we put in a ladle by going out at over 230 km / h in fourth from the break at the back of the circuit. In front of you, the loophole absorbs the eye, but you have to enter Turn 8, to the left and, damn, it’s tight! But we enter two reports in stride, thank you the shifter and a final pressure on the brakes to reach the chord point with precision. What talent ! (I’m talking about the motorcycle).

Comfort and duo

A delicate subject for track use, but the bike is not uncomfortable. We saw that the suspensions were far from set, which bodes well for the road, but only a test drive in this biotope will tell. We’ll talk about it later, I promise.

It is difficult to comment on the comfort during a track test, but the machine is far from uncomfortable

On the duo side, we didn’t try fishing: the marshals were old mustaches and that’s not my thing. However: the machine is delivered with a passenger seat and additional footrests. This will have two functions: to seduce a Geraldine amazed by the beauty of the beauty and the presence that you release on the handlebars of such a proud and noble machine, to bring her home and read to her, by candlelight, from your Joe Bar Team collection. Then, love only lasts three years (it seems), take her on vacation and divorce her when she arrives.

And if you really care about her, then ask her to offer you a Multistrada 1260 for your birthday, enough to consider beautiful romantic trips to the end of the world hand in hand, eye to eye (and zigounette in the pilou-pilou, would have added the late Pierre Desproges).

Consumption / Autonomy

The tank is 16 liters and at the end of this day’s testing, the on-board computer had an average fuel consumption of 11.7 l / 100. Nothing abnormal. We will try to halve this on the road ….

On track, we reach 11.7 liters / 100 km in consumption


This is a revolution! With a mass-produced Superbike V4, Ducati is changing its philosophy without changing its DNA. This Panigale V4 thrills with its agility, unprecedented on a big Ducati and the good manners of its powerful and charming V4 which turns into a machine to shorten distances when you turn the handle..

Yes, she is beautiful, she is red and she is fast. It’s also extraordinarily sophisticated, and a full understanding and mastery of electronics will take quite a few track riding sessions to calibrate a machine that suits you and find the right balance between safety, fun and efficiency. Fairly easy to handle, it requires less luggage than the V2, but not much less conditions when the pace increases, because you still have to pass 214 horsepower, a record power in the category. The test of the Ducati Performance version with slicks and 226 horsepower was a revelation, thus unleashing its full potential and showing that under its apparent good manners, the Panigale V4 is a real tracker..

Even when stationary, the Ducati exudes performance

In the hands of house test driver Alessandro Valia, the Panigale V4 S is just 5 seconds off the circuit lap record. It speaks, no ?

Less violent than an S1000RR, more filled than an R1, more powerful than an RSV4, more communicative than all the other Japanese, this Panigale V4 can also bet on its plastic, its technology from the GP, its complete electronics, its agility regained to claim the head of the category ….

Strong points

  • Powerful and full-length motor
  • Stylish look
  • Technological revolution for Ducati
  • Agility
  • Incredible braking
  • State-of-the-art electronics
  • Complete and readable TFT screen

Weak points

  • Some suspension movements in Sport
  • Stay a little physical on the attack
  • Little space around the footrests
  • Some shifter failures (up only)
  • We’re going to be pissed off at 80 km / h with something like that
  • Price at the height of the content

The technical sheet of the Ducati Panigale V4

Test conditions

  • Itinerary: 5 sessions on the GP circuit in Valencia (Spain) including one with a motorcycle fitted with the Ducati Performance pack (226 hp) and mounted on Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC1 slick tires
  • Motorcycle mileage: 700 km
  • Problem encountered: none

Competition: Aprilia RSV4, BMW S1000RR, Honda CBR1000RR, Kawasaki ZX-10R, Yamaha R1

The video test of the Ducati Panigale V4 S

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