When the Porsche Panamera was first launched, it was the ugly duckling of the German sports car range. However, around 8,500 Panamera Diesel models have been delivered to date. The Panamera Diesel makes up 70% of Porsche sales in the United Kingdom since its launch, and 15% of sales in the Panamera model range. If this hasn’t already said it for me; the Panamera Diesel is a fantastic car in every aspect.
Powered by a familiar 3 litre V6 turbo diesel, the new car has been given a power hike from 250 hp to 300 hp. This allows the four door Gran Turismo to get from 0-62 mph in six seconds dead – a time difference of 0.8 seconds, in comparison with the older engine. There is certainly enough poke from the engine, which is very usable as you have 479 lb ft of torque to play with in the 1,750 – 2,750 rpm power band.
Although the 8-speed Tiptronic S gearbox is no PDK in terms of intuition and responsiveness, it is still a remarkably refined gearbox, perfectly suited to the car’s most likely journeys. A no-cost option fitted to the test car was the Porsche SportDesign steering wheel with paddleshift. This is a highly attractive and recommended option. The paddles feel more natural to grab in manual mode than the thumb-operated buttons on the standard steering wheel.
The interior of the Porsche Panamera is a nice place to spend time. Statistically, most Panamera Diesel models will clock up the miles on motorways, so a comfortable and refined cabin was a major design implication. Porsche have taken this in their stride and provided a wonderful, sumptuous environment for the driver and passengers.
The reason for the car measuring a gigantic 5,015 mm in length is the Chief Designer, Michael Mauer is a tall man. He insisted on being able to sit comfortably behind his own driving position. Although it creates a slightly odd look in exterior profile, passengers are assured comfort.
On the road, it becomes clear why this model makes up the majority of the car manufacturer’s sales. To quote one of the Porsche representatives on the day; “The Porsche Panamera Diesel is the best car we make.” A bold statement indeed. Obviously, what he meant by this was in terms of everyday usability. After my short time with the car, I do not hesitate to report that what he said, is absolute sense.
Around the Alpine Course at Millbrook Proving Ground, the torque from the engine fires the execu-saloon effortlessly along the straight bits and inclines, like the sports car Porsche have intended it to be – regardless of its diesel engine and monstrous size.
When entering the corners of the aforementioned course, naturally you would expect (taking its size and weight into account) it may handle like a bit of a barge. You would be wrong, though. The thing you must remember is that the Panamera, is a Porsche. The ethos that goes into every Porsche model is to create a sports car, and this is what they have done here. The Panamera dives into bends with an agility and precision that mimics that of a car with a significantly shorter wheel base. The front axle is precise and the rear follows direction changes like a dog chasing its tail. The levels of adhesion are impressive as the car remains solidly planted to the tarmac without any tell-tale signs of the rear breaking away.
Nothing changes on the High Speed Bowl, either. The Panamera Diesel will happily cruise at 120 mph. Rock steady. Silently. I must admit, I was a little apprehensive at the claimed 0-62 time, but all became clear as I pressed my right foot into the carpet. The pull from the V6 is tremendous and the car surges towards its peak power band, drama free. The engine is pretty quiet, but as the revs build, the six cylinder engine emits a tuneful soundtrack. As with the Alpine Course, the Panamera is equally as stapled to the road, giving you the confidence to push on.
As a proposition to the execu-saloon segment of the automotive industry, the Porsche Panamera Diesel frightens competition – depending on budget, of course. Having said that however, the list price of the Panamera Diesel is; £65,289. Competition from BMW and Mercedes are around the same price bracket.
Having given the Panamera the full potatoes on both the handling course and High Speed Bowl, I cycled through the car’s trip computer at rest, to find an average reading of 35.8 mpg (call it 36!) You can’t argue with that.
Granted, the Panamera isn’t exactly the best looking of cars, but suffice to say, it wears the Porsche crest on its bonnet. The overall driving experience is second-to-none in its class. I was bowled over by the Porsche Panamera Diesel, and am now willing to admit I am a convert.
Not struck on its appearance? Pop into your local Porsche Centre and arrange a test drive. I promise you will not be disappointed.
Engine Size: 3 litre, V6, 32 valve, diesel
Top Speed: 161 mph
Power: 300 hp @ 4,000 rpm
Torque: 479 lb ft @ 1,750 – 2,750 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic S
Driven Wheels: rear
0-62 mph: 6 seconds
Combined MPG: 44.1
Length: 5,015 mm
Width: 1,931 mm
Height: 1,418 mm
Kerb Weight: 1,900 kg
OTR Price: £65,289
Price as Tested: £70,220