Panamera Diesel review
A DIESEL Porsche? What on earth were they thinking? The Panamera's 3.0-litre V6 is closely related to Audi's V6. It's the same as the one used in the Cayenne SUV and broadly similar to the powerplant to be found in, er, the A4.
That doesn’t sound very promising but here’s the rub: the diesel Panamera is actually very good - great, even - and is probably the best Panamera of the lot.
Car critics who slate the Panamera can’t seem to get over the fact that it’s not a 911, but how could it be? The engine is at the front, not the back, the cabin has plenty of room for four people (not a driver, a passenger and two midgets) and to accommodate them it is both longer and wider than a 911.
Pointing out the Panamera doesn’t feel like a 911 is stating the obvious. The Panamera is a big car built for long drives. If you’ve got a pressing appointment in the South of France this is the Porsche you’ll be needing.
And the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel is the best engine to get you there.
Driven carefully Porsche reckons it can drive 745 miles on its 80-litre tank (there’s also an optional 100-litre tank for veteran road warriors) and returns an average of 43.5mpg.
It’s a Porsche Jim, but not as we know itNigel Burton, Motoring Editor
That’s a mighty impressive performance but there’s more good news. The diesel’s 247bhp may sound rather modest but there’s nothing weedy about 406lb/ft of torque. The zero to 62mph sprint time of 6.8 seconds is pretty much the same as the V6 petrol and the 150mph top speed is more than fast enough even if you’re a regular user of de-restricted German autobahns. In this country at 70mph in eighth gear the engine is loping along at a mere 1,500rpm - it’s so laid back it’s practically asleep.
The diesel’s insouciant character suits the Panamera rather better than the manic petrol turbo or the complex (and expensive) hybrid.
It sits just above the entry-level V6 petrol at £62,134. That’s a lot of money for a car but most of the people who saw it reckoned it must have cost nearer the hundred grand mark so at least you get a lot of bang for your buck.
You don’t get four-wheel drive, though. The petrol 4WD Panameras have a clever system whereby the transmission passes through the sump, but the Audi-sourced diesel wasn’t designed to do this. Porsche got away with it in the Cayenne because the same power-plant is riding so much higher and the running gear can pass below it. On the Panamera it would be dragging on the ground. So it’s strictly rear-wheel drive.
Porsche has done a good packaging job, though. The engine is pulled as far back in the bay as possible to enhance the handling and extensive sound insulation makes it very quiet. On a light throttle there’s no diesel rumble and it’s almost impossible to tell apart from the petrol V6. Getting the refinement right was crucial because the Panamera already has very low levels of road and tyre noise. As with all diesels there’s no real point in chasing high revs. It’s always at its best in the low to mid range where all that lovely torque resides.
If you really want to get a move on there’s a sport mode and a manual shift option on the eight-speed automatic. Changes are smoothly and virtually seamless at cruising pace. The paddle shift system is responsive and doesn’t try to over-ride your choice of gears. The stop/start works efficiently in slow moving traffic.
There’s no denying the Panamera cabin is a lovely place to be. This is Porsche’s tilt at the Aston Martin Rapide and the Ferrari FF so nothing has been left to chance. Extensive use of leather and metal alloys has fashioned a cabin that’s luxurious and supremely comfortable. The sheer number of buttons (there are so many they run down both sides of the transmission tunnel) can be intimidating at first but every is logically laid out. My only gripe was the infuriating “double press to open all four doors” central locking and the speedo that’s calibrated in 25mph increments (there’s a digital readout as well, but that only makes the clock doubly useless).
At nearly 5 metres (16ft) long and 1.9m (6.2ft) wide you’re always aware that it’s a big car (in fact, it’s as long as a luxury limousine) but upside of that is a big boot and generous legroom in the back.
So it’s a Porsche Jim, but not as we know it. The diesel Panamera has the pace to keep up, the economy to cover vast distances and the space to carry four people in complete comfort.
There’s no need to apologise for shunning the petrol or even the hybrid Panamera models. As far as I’m concerned one of diesel do nicely.
SPEC: Engine: 2,967cc turbo-diesel, V6, eight-speed automatic gearbox driving the rear wheels.
Power: 247bhp @ 2,800rpm-4,400rpm.
Torque: 406lb/ft @ 1,750rpm-2,750rpm.
Top speed: 150mph.
0-62mph: 6.8 secs.
Fuel economy: 43.5mpg.
CO2 emissions: 172g/km.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Aston Martin Rapide: Even faster and rarer than the Porsche. Costs twice as much and doesn’t offer twice the performance. The expensive choice.
Ferrari FF: Stunning performance, four-wheel drive, looks very nice but costs the earth and dare you leave it in a car park all day long?
Jaguar XJ: Cheaper but lacks the Panamera’s badge cachet and doesn’t drive as well.