From £59,7468
The Panamera Diesel's V6 engine has been revised to give more performance for similar economy, and for the most part it's a successful upgrade

Our Verdict

Porsche Panamera

Can the four-door Porsche Panamera still do what’s expected of a Porsche?

Nic Cackett
25 March 2014

What is it?

Time was not kind to the outgoing Panamera Diesel. By the time Porsche took it for a long walk at the end of last year, comparisons with other high-priced super-saloons were rendered near senseless; a BMW 125d could comfortably outrun it to 62mph.

Privately, the firm’s engineers had been less than charitable about the 3.0-litre V6 that they’d inherited for some time. It was necessary and so-so, but faces were made, shrugs tendered and the truth plain to see: no Porsche this big should come with an output starting with a ‘two’. 

If you squint a bit, its replacement fixes that. Metrically, the updated common-rail motor now sends 300hp (296bhp) to the rear wheels, in conjunction with a reworked eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The substantial 20 per cent hike in power has been rendered the old-fashioned way: by disassembling its moving parts and remaking them better, apparently preserving only the dimensions of its predecessor. As well as changing out the crankshaft and pistons, there’s a water-cooled turbocharger working at half a bar higher boost pressure, helping to extract 74lb ft more twist from 1750rpm.

What's it like?

All this adding, hiking and boosting means subtractions occur where they count: the Panamera Diesel is claimed to be nearly a second quicker to 62mph, and, crucially, it feels it.

From a standing start, the engine spends markedly less time pondering its near two-tonne burden and, with the first four gear ratios deliberately shortened, the previously obedient acceleration has been superseded by something far more aggressive. 

Despite a comparatively narrow torque band (on paper, it has had enough by 2500rpm), the V6’s work rate doesn’t dramatically diminish before 4000rpm, either. Together with a new level of mechanical refinement that verges on sonorous, it’s now far more rewarding to keep your toe in that bit longer than might be considered absolutely necessary. 

That particular virtue ought to be the baseline for any Porsche, and it’s worth noting that the new Diesel is good enough now to occasionally tempt your fingertips on to the paddles – although not quite good enough to keep them there for any length of time. That’s the fault of the automatic transmission rather than the engine.

Unlike the dual-clutch PDK, the Tiptronic’s manual shifts tend to be tardy in either direction, and accidentally hitting the limiter is a recipe for stuttering confusion in the driveline. Fortunately, it does a superior job of picking the ratios for itself and, in Sport mode, can usually be counted on to coax the best from the V6. 

Unsurprisingly, the car around it has no problem whatsoever absorbing the extra power. The Diesel now gets Porsche’s Torque Vectoring Plus system as standard, and the front and rear anti-roll bars have been made slightly more rigid, ensuring that the oil-burning Panamera drives with much the same polished intent as its petrol siblings – although, with the adaptive PASM fitted, the body is markedly better trimmed in one of its firmer settings than the default Comfort. 

Should I buy one?

All things considered, the car’s dynamic prowess – specifically, its uncanny ability to shrink onto a B-road one minute, then expand into a transcontinental express the next – is still the best reason to buy a Panamera.

With much the same efficiency as before (169g/km and 44.1mpg are very decent claims, given the car’s size and potency), the Diesel’s added gumption has clearly bettered its case. 

However, unlike the relentless diesel V8 fitted to the Cayenne, the reworked V6 has not put the Porsche in a league of its own. For less than this model’s £65,269 starting price, BMW and Audi both offer swifter (and arguably prettier) alternatives.

The Panamera Diesel has been stood up as a serious contender among them – particularly for the enthusiast - but it’s a persuasive option rather than the irrefutable must-have that Porsche so often turns out. 

Porsche Panamera Diesel

Price £65,269; 0-62mph 6.0sec; Top speed 151mph; Economy 44.1mpg; CO2 169g/km; Kerbweight 1990kg; Engine V6, 2967cc, turbodiesel; Installation Front, longitudinal;  Power 296bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 479lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox Eight-speed automatic

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