Expert Reviews

First drive: Porsche Panamera 4S Diesel

Friday 02 September 2016

First drive: Porsche Panamera 4S Diesel

According to the Porsche development team responsible for the second-generation Panamera, everything except the base concept, the name and the badge is new.

This means a redesigned body, an all-new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 diesel engine, and a plethora of new technology – to name but a handful of changes – have been thrown in the mix.

Thanks to the car’s new powerplant, the diesel Panamera can now claim the title of ‘fastest diesel production car in the world’. With 416bhp and a monstrous 850Nm of torque on tap, the Panamera certainly isn’t a slouch. The new diesel car is likely to command the vast majority of UK sales thanks to its attractive combination of power and fuel economy.

Looks & Image

One of the most obvious changes to the Panamera is how it looks. Where the old car was a rather swollen, bulbous looking thing, the new car is much sleeker and aggressive looking – and is far closer to the four-door 911 ideal the original never quite managed to live up to.

However, while the new model is better looking than the old, labelling it a properly handsome car might still be a bit too charitable. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if you like the Panamera’s new look.

While the car’s exterior might not be to everyone’s liking, the cabin should be a hit with even the most discerning customers.

As with everything else on the Panamera, the cabin has been completely overhauled. Gone are the myriad buttons from the older car. Replacing them is a smartphone-inspired black panel surface that houses a selection of touch-sensitive controls for things like the infotainment system and heated seats.

While this new layout certainly looks great and panders to the Panamera’s premium image, practicality-wise they can be frustrating. When you’re on the move – and in the Panamera you will be moving rather quickly – they can be hard to find. The same can be said of the new 12.3-inch touchscreen display that controls the car’s impressive infotainment system.

Space & Practicality

As you would expect from what is practically a limousine that is capable of travelling at ridiculous speeds, the Panamera’s interior is rather cavernous. Up front, the roof feels a million miles away, as does the passenger seat.

In the back, the story is much the story is much the same. The two-seat layout means adult passengers will never feel cramped, and even though the roofline has been lowered by 20mm, headroom has increased.

Opening the boot reveals 495 litres of storage space, which can be increased to 1,304 litres if you fold the rear seats down. Compared to its rivals, the Panamera fares rather favourably. A Mercedes-AMG S63 offers only 400 litres worth of space, while a Maserati Quattroporte GTS comes with a handy 530 litres worth of luggage room in the boot.

Behind the Wheel

From the moment you settle in behind the wheel of the Panamera, the car’s rather vast proportions become even more noticeable – you almost need to turn your head 90 degrees to check your opposite wing mirror. That said though, the car isn’t stressful to drive around town and its width will only really become a problem on the narrowest of country lanes.

This shouldn’t really be too much of a problem, then, as the Panamera will likely spend most of its time on the motorway. This is arguable where the 4S Diesel really comes into its element, as it combines superb levels of comfort and refinement with an engine that is capable of leaving most things permanently in its wake. Remember, this thing has a bonkers amount of torque – 850Nm to be exact.

Economy is also fairly decent, with Porsche claiming the car is capable of returning a combined fuel consumption figure of 42.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 176g/km. For a car capable of hitting 177mph, that’s pretty impressive.

If you decide to take the Panamera off the motorway and show it a couple of twisty roads, you’re unlikely to be disappointed. For of car of its size, the Panamera is surprisingly agile through the corners. The steering weight is pretty much spot on and the four-wheel drive means you’re never in any danger of running out of grip – unless you drive like an absolute loon, that is.

Value for Money

When you take into account that this is the fastest diesel production car in the world, the £91,788 you’ll be expected to cough up for the Panamera doesn’t seem all that bad. It’s still by no means cheap, but can you really put a price on bragging rights?

Boasting aside, you will also be treated to a fairly decent amount of kit as standard. This includes features such as full leather upholstery, satellite navigation displayed through the crisp 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay to name a few.

However, this is a Porsche after all, and that means that the options list will be very long and very expensive. Fancy throwing in some air suspension? That’ll be £1,541. What about the Sport Chrono Package? Be prepared to say goodbye to £1,344. Caution is advised when delving into the options list – adding an extra £10,000 to the price of your Panamera can happen in a blink.

Who would buy one ?

Anyone who wants a fast, luxurious and fairly economical cruising machine, that can also offer mind-boggling levels of grip if its shown a windy B-road. Sure, other cars are more fun, but the breadth of the oil-burning Panamera’s abilities do make it an appealing car.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Porsche Panamera 4S Diesel

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo diesel V8 producing 416bhp and 850Nm of torque

Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch (PDK) automatic

Performance: Top speed 177mph, 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds

Economy: 41.5mpg combined

Emissions: 178g/km CO2

Price: £91,788

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