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Monday 20th August 2012

PH Fleet: Porsche Panamera Diesel

Bye bye diesel Jag, hello diesel ... Porsche? Yep, Harris has got a Panamera for a few months



Often despite a car's faults we become fonder of it over time. Sadly not so with the XF. It never quite delivered and the more time I spent with it, the more it baffled me no one at Jaguar worked out how to make an iPhone 4S's telephone and iPod function simultaneously. Still, it taught me to love BBC 6 Music.

Yep, it's a diesel...
Yep, it's a diesel...
Replacing the Jag is another diesel exec saloon - if you can call it that. 10 years ago, the concept of a four-door Porsche using an Audi diesel engine would have seen me marching outside Weissach's front gates and burning effigies of Herr Piech. But flat-earthers like me are beginning to understand that the world has changed. I now have several months in a Panamera Diesel. The relationship has started well. Very well.

The Panamera is possibly the most divisive Porsche of all. Many despise the way it looks and what it stands for. In my experience, almost all of those negative voices are eradicated if they spend any time in one, either as a driver or a passenger. Especially if you include very long journeys. At least 10 times a year I have to get from the UK to some other corner of the continent, and the Panamera Turbo is the best tool for the job.

The Turbo defence

One of the best cars Porsche makes?
One of the best cars Porsche makes?
The Turbo part of that defence is actually quite important for those of us who stand up for the Panamera. People can argue over the styling and the packaging, but they cannot deride the fact that four people can cover ground at insane speed, in comfort in a Panamera Turbo.
But what happens when you remove the speed?
The Diesel version has just 250hp, and it weighs 1,880kg. It compensates with 405lb ft of diesel torque and the promise of some impressive fuel economy figures. From the spec sheet this car is the least appealing Porsche since the 911 SC was castrated in the late 70s for Californian emissions targets.
Honestly, having covered 2,500 miles in it already, I can't think of another car whose real-world behaviour is so far removed from its static credentials. In its own way, the Panamera diesel is one of the best cars Porsche makes - and that is just a plain bizarre sentence to watch creep from my keyboard. The reasons for this become apparent within a few minutes of first driving it. This is the best diesel installation around. It offers a faint crack when it fires, but after that it isn't just quiet, the noise that seeps into the cabin is a pleasant, deep, V6 rumble.

All that you need

Chris's car has aluminium trim package
Chris's car has aluminium trim package
Is it fast enough? It is for me. Porsche claims 6.8 seconds from rest to 62mph, and that feels about right. Recent performance gains has us sniffing at that figure, and it certainly doesn't offer great support to the Panamera in non uber-Turbo trim, but the last time you even think about the claimed performance is just before you drive it. Once you're rolling, it feels just as fast as the Jag XF Diesel S.
Diesel meant ditching PDK for the ubiquitous ZF eight-speed auto, and that's improved the package further. Sometimes an engine and gearbox just gel; this is one of those instances. It is seamless in the true sense of the phrase and therefore incredibly soothing. That's what I want from a car of this type.
I also want it to be stellar over long distances and a recent smash'n'grab raid to southern Germany proved, beyond any doubt, that this car is world class in that respect. Three-up, and crammed full of gear it would cruise quietly at 120mph, still returning 30mpg. On the 612-mile return leg, which included some stationary time and a sustained stint in the 130-140mph window, the car averaged 37.2mpg. That is astonishing. Anything I might have gained in a Turbo pulling 150-180mph would have been undone by the need to refuel. I even did a stint in the back and nearly fell asleep. This is unprecedented.

Different class

Panamera a perfect continent-crosser
Panamera a perfect continent-crosser
In many ways, this Panamera is everything the Jag wasn't. The iPod thing works brilliantly, the touchscreen infotainment actually responds to each prod and the trim and build quality really are on a different planet to the Jag. I'm not being harsh here, they're just truths. As is the fact that, as tested, the Porsche is £66,558, which is almost £13,000 more than the Jag. The difference feels like £30,000.
Not just in terms of quality either. The Panamera's steering isn't just good, it's a flipping magic trick. It somehow makes this vast machine agile and instinctively easy to thread down narrow roads. The driving position - low, with the wheel at your chest - is terrific and it's just a fun car to drive fast. Again, I can't believe I've written that.
This car runs on standard steel springs, not the optional air-suspension, and on weeny 19-inch wheels. Yes, I specifically asked for the small wheels because they bring a fleshier 45-profile sidewall and the result is a firm but composed ride. It's no S-Class, but the overall compromise of agility and waftability is very pleasing.

Basic luxury

Harris in 'unprecedented' snooze
Harris in 'unprecedented' snooze
The rest of the spec is pretty basic. Metallic paint, a Bose hi-fi, an iPod link and some ally bits to the cabin. This wouldn't be a Porsche if it didn't have some hilariously priced addition, in this case it's the £275 'seatbelts in silver'.
As you can probably tell, I like this car. In fact the only negative aspects so far are apologetically droopy tail-pipe trims and the fact it's only a four-seater. Which, for those of us with three kids, renders the Panamera a bit useless. With Mercedes making its CLS Shooting Brake a five-seater, you have to wonder if Porsche is missing a trick not selling a five-seat version of this car.

I defy anyone to drive or be driven in a Panamera Diesel and not be profoundly impressed. The haters will always hate, but, right now, there isn't another car I want to be using the way I use this one. Oh, and I even like the way it looks.


FACT SHEET
Car:
Porsche Panamera Diesel
Run by: Chris Harris
On fleet since: August 2012
Mileage:
List price new:
£66,558 (base price £62,134 plus £777 for metallic paint, £1,457 for 19" Panamera Design alloy wheels, £243 for automatic dimming mirror package, £919 for Bose surround sound system, £227 for Universal Audio Interface USB/iPod connector, £526 for aluminium interior package and £275(!) for 'seatbelts in silver')
Last month at a glance: Diesel Panamera turns out to be one of the most capable, and likeable, cars in the Porsche stable

Chris Harris
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Author Discussion

UltimaCH

Original Poster:

2,273 posts

69 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
Nice reading and honest comments. Good to hear that from a petrol head.

GuyS.

295 posts

95 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
The cabin in a Panamera is a wonderful place to spend a long journey, although the back is a little dull and predictable compared with the front seats.

red997

284 posts

89 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
Having borrowed a Pana diesel for a week, and covered some serious miles in it - you're spot on with pretty much everything !
Mind you, the ventilated seats in the one I had were greatly received ..smile
enjoy the ride

farrendahl

1,247 posts

54 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
I've not been fortunate enough to drive a Panamera, but I was recently a passenger in one and have to admit it has changed my preconceptions on them slightly. I still can't get past the looks but for ride comfort and speed I was happily surprised. I just hope that the rumours of a possible shooting break version to be previewed at Paris are true as I think it's one of those rare cars that will actually look better in estate form.

E38Ross

13,479 posts

92 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
Chris,

Can you please explain what you mean by it compensates for having 250bhp by having over 400lb ft of torque? That makes no sense. What's the difference between the diesel, say making 400lb ft at 2k rpm and a petrol making 300lb ft at 3k rpm (both a bit under 1/2 max rpm).... The laws of physics suggest you wouldn't feel any difference in acceleration. So what exactly do you mean? To feel the same as the petrol turbo it would need even more torque because of rpm difference.

You've said this about lot in recent posts but it doesn't really add up. Especially when you briefly compared the turbo diesel to the turbo petrol.
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shoestring7

4,661 posts

126 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
Its good to read a PanAm review that recognises that this isn't trying to be a 911. I had a look at one on a lift the other day, there's some serious engineering involved in the chassis the rear alloy suspension arms look like they've been taken from a truck.

Now if someone could please order one with a reasonable spec. and 19" wheels, and look after it well for 5 years so I can buy it from them for £25k.....


SS7

rhinochopig

16,761 posts

78 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
"The Haters will always hate". Shame on you Mr Harris. I thought you were better than that biggrin

Simonium

260 posts

32 months

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Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
Very interesting review. I will admit to having dismissed them out of hand with no real reason.

Bill

30,314 posts

135 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
BBC 6 Music? Interesting biggrin

Cheib

8,393 posts

55 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
I've never liked the looks but keep reading what a great car it is......it's certainly got me thinking. What's rear passenger space like behind a 6ft driver ? Can an adult sit behind comfortably ?

red997

284 posts

89 months

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Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
Cheib - yes, plenty of room

PascalBuyens

2,868 posts

162 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
"I even did a stint in the back and nearly fell asleep. This is unprecedented."


You're being way too kind on Porsche... You could have simply said that it's a boring car tongue out LOL

will261058

1,089 posts

72 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
E38Ross said:
Chris,

Can you please explain what you mean by it compensates for having 250bhp by having over 400lb ft of torque? That makes no sense. What's the difference between the diesel, say making 400lb ft at 2k rpm and a petrol making 300lb ft at 3k rpm (both a bit under 1/2 max rpm).... The laws of physics suggest you wouldn't feel any difference in acceleration. So what exactly do you mean? To feel the same as the petrol turbo it would need even more torque because of rpm difference.

You've said this about lot in recent posts but it doesn't really add up. Especially when you briefly compared the turbo diesel to the turbo petrol.
I think he means the compensation comes in the shape of similar performance but with much better fuel consumption.

kambites

38,075 posts

101 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
I have immense respect for the Panamera, but no amount of experience with it is going to make it look anything other than hideous. Hopefully they'll do an estate version at some point to get rid of that awful rear end. smile

excel monkey

2,795 posts

107 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
Harris said:
I specifically asked for the small wheels
clap Right choice!

Devil2575

7,619 posts

68 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
I so much want to like this car but it is hideous.

mik_jg

71 posts

69 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
Have to admit a de-badged and remapped one of these is guaranteed a place in my dream garage...

y2blade

52,368 posts

95 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
"I defy anyone to drive or be driven in a Panamera Diesel and not be profoundly impressed. The haters will always hate, but, right now, there isn't another car I want to be using the way I use this one. Oh, and I even like the way it looks."

Nice to hear that from Mr Harris.

Chris Harris

422 posts

33 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
E38Ross said:
Chris,

Can you please explain what you mean by it compensates for having 250bhp by having over 400lb ft of torque? That makes no sense. What's the difference between the diesel, say making 400lb ft at 2k rpm and a petrol making 300lb ft at 3k rpm (both a bit under 1/2 max rpm).... The laws of physics suggest you wouldn't feel any difference in acceleration. So what exactly do you mean? To feel the same as the petrol turbo it would need even more torque because of rpm difference.

You've said this about lot in recent posts but it doesn't really add up. Especially when you briefly compared the turbo diesel to the turbo petrol.
It makes sense. Its torque output is large compared to its power output. Drive the car and its low-effort performance is a corollary of instant, low-rpm torque.

The semantics of torque - and how it, and its effects, are expressed is a pedants paradise on which far too much time is wasted.

This car has more everyday poke than its performance figures suggest. I think I've made that clear.




toppstuff

10,049 posts

127 months

[news] 
Monday 20th August 2012 quote quote all
I have, right from the beginning, been a staunch defender of the Panamera. And I like the way it looks.

I simply cannot comprehend for the life of me, how people think the car is ugly when they consider other cars out there, which do not attract so much as a grumble. The irony of people who own any modern Peugeot, any modern Vauxhall, even most Audi's with their absurd DRL's, calling the Panamera ugly simply tells me that a lot of people seem to have no sense at all.
No -one seems to mind the latest Mercedes CLS either. I quite liked the old one, but when I saw a new CLS the other day I was shocked at how goppingly wrong it looks. The Panamera is gorgeous compared to the new CLS.

But, of course, it is a purely subjective thing. I do wonder, however, if sometimes these things become an accepted mantra that is simply followed by the masses, like so many sheep. Many people seem to continue to quote Clarkson, so this theory has some merit...



Anyway. Its a fine car. Fit for a purpose. And it looks the way it does for a reason - if they reduced the length of the rear roofline, made the rear quarter a little less heavy, it would look not unlike an Aston Rapide. Given that the Aston Rapide is a sales flop, primarily because it is neither one thing nor the other, with compromised rear space, this in my opinion demonstrates why Porsche got it right.

The Panamera is also a sales success. I believe it is (or at least has been in level pegging with the Cayenne) Porsche's best selling car. And for a good reason.

The only area of regret I have is over the engine. Audi have a mighty V8 diesel. It is a shame that you have to buy a ( genuinely ugly ) Audi A8 or a VW Toureg to get access to it. It would be lovely in the Porsche.


Edited by toppstuff on Monday 20th August 12:44

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