Well, that didn’t last long. In the current issue of CAR (August 2011), I report on the Panamera Hybrid, the most economical Porsche ever. But barely has the ink gone dry and it has been bested. Now on offer in South Africa at a rather attractive price of R766 000 is the new oil-burning Panamera Diesel… and for more laidback drivers, it could just be the pick of the range.
Porsche claims a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 6,3 litres/100 km (on optional 19-inch all-season tyres). But even if you’ve got the standard tyres the figure is still a very impressive 6,5 litres/100 km. With an 80-litre tank of diesel you should therefore be able to travel for around 1 200 km between fill-ups, making the Panamera Diesel a very appealing long-distance GT.
In pure performance terms the new Diesel model may be positioned at the “bottom-end” of the Panamera line-up, but the figures are nevertheless impressive. The car is claimed to accelerate to 100 km/h in 6,8 seconds and has a 242 km/h top speed. Perhaps even more impressive is the overtaking acceleration – Porsche claims a time of 4,5 seconds for the run from 80 to 120 km/h.
Power comes from a twin-turbodiesel V6 with two intercoolers, common-rail direct injection and a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry. Maximum power is 184 kW, available from 3 800 to 4 400 r/min and the maximum torque figure is 550 N.m, on tap from 1 750 to 2 750 r/min. Auto stop/start is also part of the deal.
The engine is mated with Porsche’s eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission and power goes to the rear wheels. This particular Panamera derivative rides on steel suspension, but adaptive air suspension is available as an option, as is PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management). If ultimate ride comfort is what you’re after, I suggest sticking with the speel suspension and opting for the highest possible profile tyres.
On the launch drive in Germany I had the opportunity to experience the Panamera Diesel in a number of different roles. It is particularly well-suited to fast highway and cross-country touring. The cabin remains a superb place to be and the way it just wafts along, yet remains willing to surge forward with urgency when the right foot is pressed down, never ceases to impress.
Porsche was at pains to point out that the Panamera Diesel should be as fun to drive as all other Porsches, and for the biggest part they got it right. If I must nit-pick, I would say that the eight-speed autobox is not as fast to respond to throttle inputs as I’d like it to be in Sport mode. Of course, you could just move the lever over into manual and use the paddles. It certainly doesn’t mind being hustled… In any event, the eight-speed ‘box is probably the right choice for this particular car. The dual-clutch PDK would have been faster, but the more laid-back character of the automatic transmission suits the overall persona of the Diesel model very well.
Then there’s the aspect of engine noise, or rather the lack of it. During the presentation the Porsche representative said that a new sports exhaust was developed for the Diesel model to make sure it was, “a diesel, with a Porsche sound”. Well it does sound rather good, to those standing outside. Inside, it sounds like a well-suppressed diesel.
The Diesel model is the most affordable Panamera available on the local market. Though traditionalists may still sniff at the idea of a diesel Porsche, the Panamera Diesel provides a very tempting purchasing argument, just as the Cayenne Diesel did when we tested it previously. Expect this one to sell up a storm as well.