Naturally aspirated, turbo-charged, supercharged, hybrid, diesel. Does choice of powerplant matter very much these days? If there’s one thing I realize by now, it is the reality that a great driving car can have any of the abovementioned engines under their bonnets. I suppose in a sense, you could say that we at Zerotohundred are unbiased that way – irrespective of engine type or displacement, we’re like cars that deliver the best thrills whilst maintaining the calmest composure.
We collected the keys to a Panamera Diesel recently, and thought it would be interesting to see how it would match up against the other variants of Porsche’s luxo-barge (Panamera 4, Panamera Hybrid) that we’ve reviewed some months back. This looked to be an interesting post-comparison between a standard petrol V6, a supercharged petrol V6 with an electric motor, and a turbocharged diesel V6.
As I pulled away from the Porsche Center in Glenmarie, I was surprised at just how quiet and refined this car was. The usual negative perceptions with diesel engines just aren’t there – there’s no clatter on the outside, and it is surprisingly calm inside. If anything, I have to say that this car actually sounds lustier than its petrol V6 sibling especially so in the mid-range, although there’s no high rpm crescendo you’d get in a petrol mill. But for what it lacks in aural excitement, it makes up for in brute grunt; evident from the way I was able to effortlessly leave traffic behind.
Let’s run through the power figures in the Panamera Diesel shall we? Pop the hood and you have a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel that makes do with ‘just’ 250 ponies. While the horsepower count remains rather conservative, do keep in mind that this car has a monstrous 550Nm (peaking between 1,750 – 2,750rpm) of torque. There’s no option for PDK; instead, you get an 8-speed Tiptronic auto-box that delivers all the power to the rear wheels. Zerotohundred is seen off in 6.8 seconds; a couple of tenths slower than the petrol (6.3 seconds) and hybrid (6.0 seconds) equivalents. Then again, you have to bear in mind that the diesel is significantly out-muscled by its two siblings (300hp petrol, 380hp hybrid).
Porsche is quick to point out that the Panamera Diesel was never intended to be a performance car, with efficiency taking precedence. Despite those claims, there’s good urgency once you plant your foot into the accelerator; indeed better than what the power figures might suggest. Yes, there’s definitely enough useful performance considering I had little trouble repeatedly bringing the car beyond 200km/h. Credit must also be given to the conventional torque-converter automatic; gear-changes were super-slick rivaling even the dual-clutch PDK. With Sport mode engaged, there’s added responsiveness, and an eagerness to rev further before swapping cogs.
The most important aspect of any Porsche remains with driving dynamics and here, the Panamera Diesel does not disappoint. I won’t lie and say that this car felt agile or sharp – this is a big, heavy sedan after all. You likely won’t expect it, but this car can be quite the tool to carve corners: well damped, minimal body-roll, sufficient thrust out of a corner coupled with plenty of feel-good confidence. The steering responsive, well weighted, delivering precise inputs and changing directions faithfully. Ride remained firm and planted across all three damper settings, soaking up KL potholes effortlessly, even with massive 20-in alloys. Brakes (360mm front, 330mm rear) were easy to modulate, capable of massive stopping power when necessary.
What this car really excels in, is with being a luxury GT. Because the Panamera allows for just four individuals, cabin space is phenomenal with each occupant getting individual seats. Build quality is top-notch and unsurpassed by any rivals, German or otherwise. We’re more accustomed now to the switchgear layout of modern Porsches so getting into this car felt automatically intuitive. Our test car came with the optional interior trim that added natural (cognac) leather and wood-grain finish, which we suspect will bode well with Porsche’s target audience. Cruising down some boulevards (dominated by premium badged cars), we noted quite a number of towkay head turns that this car managed to garner.
Despite falling behind on power to the Panamera 4 and Panamera Hybrid, this is still one car that actually makes sense. It isn’t the fastest kid on the block – that claim belongs to the zany Panamera Turbo, but yet remains swift, refined, and luxuriously classy. And you don’t have to worry about being embarrassed with getting a diesel alternative – there’s barely any discernible clatter on the outside and thanks to the extra soundproofing, is very quiet inside. Save for the diesel badge on its front arches (as is the case on the hybrid), you would be hard pressed to tell that this Panamera was an oil burner.
Prices for the Panamera Diesel starts from RM740,000 and for that money, you get a fair amount of standard kit. The important bits include an electronic sunroof, Park Assist with reversing camera, 20-inch Turbo II wheels, a 100-litre fuel tank (in certain markets, 80-litre is standard and 100-litre an option), together with Sports Chrono Package. As usual, a trigger happy finger let loose with the options boxes can seriously inflate prices – case in point our test car with an eventual RM881,181 sticker price.
So what’s our final verdict on the Panamera Diesel? Well, it achieves everything that is expected from a Panamera – big on space, stunning interior (likely better than any of its competitors out there), pacey highway cruiser. Plus, you get good economy figures compared to the rest of the line-up, even when driven hard. In truth, we quite like it. Now, if only Porsche could do some magic and spec their diesels with Sound Symposer…
To view/download all these pictures in hi-res, click here.
Porsche Panamera Diesel
• Zerotohundred: 6.8secs
• Top Speed: 242km/h (claimed)
• Engine: 3.0L V6 turbo-diesel
• Power: 250PS / 3,800 – 4,400 rpm
• Torque: 550Nm / 1,750 – 2,750 rpm
• Weight: 1,880kg (kerb weight)
• Fuel Economy: 6.5L/100km (claimed)
• Wheels: N/A
• Tyres: N/A
• Price: From RM740,000 (OTR excluding road tax and insurance; comes with 4yrs warranty/4 yrs/100,000km **free service & maintenance)
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