A diesel Porsche sounds like sacrilege, right? But then, a decade-and-a-half ago, so did a Porsche SUV and a Porsche four-door grand tourer. Well, here we are in present day – I’m behind the wheel of the Panamera and it’s got, well, a diesel engine.
The engine is a 247bhp, 3.0-litre V6 diesel that channels power to the rear wheels. It’s not a bespoke motor; it is in fact an Audi-derived unit, one you’ll also find under the bonnet of the Cayenne Diesel. Peak power is 247bhp which, as we found out, is decent if outright performance is not your number one priority. For the record, the Panamera Diesel will do the 0-100kph sprint in a claimed 6.8 seconds, which is still quick by any yardstick, especially for something that is on the wrong side of 1.8 tonnes. Where the Panamera works best, though, is when you want to cover large distances in little time. That’s because you have easy access to the engine’s 56kgm of torque, which is available from 1750-2750rpm. To see what we mean, you need to weigh down on the accelerator pedal at 160kph. It pulls like a locomotive – effortless and strong.
Helping in a huge way here is the responsive eight-speed automatic transmission that is in tune with the movements of your right foot and drops down gears with little hesitation when the need arises. Do note, the diesel Panamera uses a torque-converter box rather than the faster-shifting PDK double-clutch unit that the petrol cars can be had with. The ’box is tuned for efficiency (this is a diesel, after all), so unhurried driving will have the gearbox engage seventh or even eighth gear. But switch to Sport and it will keep the engine in the meat of its powerband, with the soundtrack increasing in volume to a subdued growl. Shifts now happen at 4500rpm and you can use the gearlever’s tiptronic mode or the steering buttons for added control. The pull-push buttons on the steering wheel aren’t that intuitive though.
Much of our drive was restricted to the Yamuna Expressway, so we can’t tell you how the Panamera diesel is around corners. But we’ve driven the petrol Panamera S on our favourite roads around Mumbai before and we know for a fact that it’s quite engaging through the bends, with a precise steering and little roll to spoil the fun. It’s no Boxster, but as far as GTs go, it’s up there with the very best. The ride comfort is of high accord too – left in Comfort, the suspension is cushy and easily absorbs soft undulations. In the city, though, the Panamera did feel a tad lumpy, while the considerable width and limited visibility had us on edge around Noida’s free-for-all roundabouts.
Small windows apart, there’s little to complain about with the Panamera’s cabin. Its cockpit-like design, brilliant quality and supremely comfy seats make it feel special. And yes, your passengers will be comfy in the back too. Just request them to travel light, because the Panamera’s 445-litre boot can’t hold much. That’s one of the compromises you have to live with when you buy something that’s part-sportscar and part-luxury saloon. As for styling, it looks every bit a Porsche, albeit not a pretty one.
But is that enough to put you off the Panamera Diesel? Absolutely not. A lot of that stems from the fact that, for the average multi-millionaire, it offers exclusivity that no Merc, BMW or Audi can. The diesel engine is strong enough to provide some thrills and there’s some pleasure in knowing your car will spend less time at the fuel pump than your neighbour’s Panamera S. Good ride quality on smooth roads and a beautiful cabin also make this a car you’d love to take on long journeys. But only buy the Panamera Diesel (or any Panamera for that matter) if you’re a keen driver yourself. Because if you want to be chauffeured around, the Rs 1.19 crore (ex-showroom, Mumbai) asking price could get you one of many other comfort-oriented luxury cars.