The German autobahn is simply one of the most disciplined and fastest sections of road you can ever drive on. So when opportunity presented itself to pilot Porsche’s Panamera Diesel from Düsseldorf to the infamous Nürburgring, the carmaker’s reps didn’t have to ask me twice.
If you look at the car’s specifications, and that engine capacity seems similar, it’s because it’s the same unit that does duty in the Audi A7, which also forms part of our long-term test fleet. The result is 221 kW and 650 N.m from the 3,0-litre, BiTDI turbodiesel, which is 9 kW down on the Audi.
However, being a Panamera, the driving experience and the feeling from the behind the wheel is more focused than the A7. It rolls less through corners but maintains a well-damped ride.
As we trundled out of Düsseldorf, my immediate reaction was one of surprise, mainly owing to the lack of engine noise into the cabin. You can’t immediately tell this is a turbodiesel. A quick peek at the instrument cluster and the 4 600 r/min redline confirmed it, though.
As we headed to the Nürburgring, we had to spent a good few kilometres on the autobahn. The Germans remain the masters of building fast, smooth and safe motorways. We quickly blended in with the traffic while slower vehicles kindly moved over as the Panamera approached in their rear view mirrors.
On these stretches, I selected the stiffer suspension setup through the Porsche’s Active Suspension Management system. It is not at all necessary, but at constant speeds of between 150 and 200 km/h it was comforting to experience that slightly increased level of control. In the softer setting, the Panamera did ride the road joints with more aplomb though.
When accelerating, there was little need to rev the engine past the 4 000 r/min mark. I found that it was especially alive between 2 000 and 3 500 r/min. Instead of pushing the throttle to the floor, you can make use of the torque and keep it in the same gear. If that is not sufficient, you can use the steering wheel-mounted paddles from the eight-speed Tiptronic (no PDK here) transmission to select a lower gear.
For quicker drivetrain reactions on the autobahn, I also selected Sport Plus – which can be selected independently from the suspension setup – which not only makes the throttle pedal more sensitive to inputs (among other things) but also discards eight gear, meaning it will only go up to seventh gear. There is also the reassuring fact that, with a fuel tank of 80 litres, a realistic range of 1 000 km is possible, although not at autobahn speeds!
Porsche’s aim is to offer the sportiest version of every car it produces in a segment. It has achieved this objective with the Panamera. When the mood takes you and you want to feel better connected to the car and the road, few four-door vehicles can beat the Panamera.
Price:R1 034 000
Engine:3,0-litre, V6, turbodiesel
Power:221 kW at 4 000 r/min
Torque:650 N.m between 1 750 and 2 500 r/min
0-100 km/h:6,0 seconds
Top Speed:259 km/h
Fuel Consumption:6,4 L/100 km
Notes:3 years/90 000 km