Thanks to their staggering pace, petrol V8 versions of the Panamera feel like four-door supercars. The diesel model is more economical, but that doesn’t come at the expense of fun. It’s just a different kind of fun – the pleasure derived from its fine handling and the ability to sail past fuel stations between fill-ups. It could do with more pace, though, and Audi’s 309bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 would be a good fit.
The new Panamera Diesel is all about numbers. Unusually for a Porsche, though, they don’t all relate to performance – at least, not against the clock.
The headline figures concern fuel economy, and they’re really quite remarkable. Fitted with the optional low-rolling resistance tyres, this four-door sports car is the company’s most economical model – its 44.8mpg combined fuel consumption figure beats everything else in the range, including Porsche’s hybrids.
On standard rubber, the figure drops to 43.5mpg, while CO2 emissions increase from 167g/km to 172g/km. But this is still extremely impressive for a 150mph machine.
Drive sedately, and owners can eke out more than 745 miles from the Panamera’s 80-litre fuel tank. If Porsche adds the option of a 100-litre tank – as insiders suggest it will – the oil-burner’s grand touring will be enhanced further still. You could probably drive from London to Barcelona without having to refill.
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Impressive as the car’s ability to sip fuel is, though, the badge dictates that it should cross continents at pace, too. While it trails its fastest relatives, with a 6.8-second 0-62mph time
and 150mph top speed, on all but the longest traffic-free runs, the Panamera Diesel serves up more than adequate, if not extraordinary, performance.
The Audi-sourced 247bhp 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel is at its strongest in the mid range. This output doesn’t sound that much, but the sizeable 550Nm of torque makes up for it. The eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic slips quickly and imperceptibly between its numerous ratios, while manual control is offered through the gearlever or rocker switches on the steering wheel. Paddleshifters add £283, and it’s worth spending the extra if you like to take control yourself.
You might just want do that. Although the newcomer is billed as Porsche’s most economical model, it’s still a Panamera. This means agility that belies its size.
The amazing ability to carry speed remains one of the four-door’s most impressive facets.
Quick and accurate steering, plus the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system, certainly help – and the Panamera manages to balance fine body control and ride comfort very well.
It doesn’t have the shocking pace of the larger-capacity V8 petrol models, and requires the driver to adopt a different mindset at the wheel.
Although the 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel doesn’t gain speed as easily, working the unit isn’t a chore. It’s smooth and revs freely, while extensive acoustic engineering has reduced diesel clatter to a minimum. Standard stop-start ensures it’s silent when you come to a standstill, too.
There’s only the slightest mechanical chatter at low revs – and as you approach the red line – to give away which pump this saloon stops alongside on the filling station forecourt. Otherwise, the diesel badging behind the front wings and the tailpipes are the only visual clues that this isn’t
a petrol-engined Porsche.
Inside, it’s all familiar Panamera, with a snug feel to the cockpit, quality materials and first-class fit and finish. The instrumentation is all very clear, although the rev counter’s needle obviously doesn’t sweep as far here – it stops at 4,600rpm.
Numbers again. But perhaps the most important figure here concerns sales. Porsche bosses anticipate that the diesel will account for as many as half of all Panameras sold in the UK.