Porsche Panamera S
Brisk but flawed... and no match for its V6 diesel sibling
Here’s some good news.
By replacing the Panamera’s old normally aspirated 4.8-litre V8 engine with a 3-litre V6 to which two turbos have been attached, Porsche has improved this car in every way that such things are conventionally measured.
More power? Of course. More torque? Naturally, and at lower revs too. Better performance is a given with 0.5sec off the 0-62mph time, while for those for whom such things matter top speed is up by a single mile per hour to 178mph. Most notably, consumption improves by almost 10mpg, from 22.6mpg to 32.5mpg, with a commensurate fall in CO2 consumption.
None of this makes my stance any easier, but the fact remains I didn’t like this Panamera as much as the car it has replaced, unquestionably superior though it undoubtedly is.
Profligate though it was, there was always a sense of occasion getting into a Panamera powered by a big normally aspirated V8. Of course the extant V8 turbo cars have mighty performance, but lack the throttle response, that snarling soundtrack and a wonderfully wide rev-range. The new V6 has all these disadvantages, but without that same punch.
It’s an oily smooth new powertrain, barely audible as you fire it up. Slip the shifter into drive (the manual option died with its predecessor) and sweep up the road. Porsche says it has improved ride quality, too, and while I’m unable to confirm or deny without having driven the two back to back, it certainly dealt with all the usual lumps and bumps on my test routes with deft, well damped authority.
But there’s little sense of occasion and nothing in its character or power delivery to make you want to tug the down paddle a couple of times and nail the throttle just to feel and hear it go. Of course it’s quick, but it’s not that quick – a Boxster S turns in remarkably similar numbers – so the automotive theatre you might hope to find in a high-performance Porsche (or might even feel entitled to expect) is simply not there. It just very quietly and capably gets on with the job.
I have an issue with the chassis, too. My time with the car coincided with largely wet weather and I grew tired of feeling the electronics intervene on tight turns or while turning at junctions. I expect the 4x4 version – yours for an additional £3642 – would be better.
But my biggest issue with the car is there is another 3-litre, V6 twin-turbo Panamera you can buy that costs almost £20,000 less, really isn’t any less fun to drive but will do almost 45mpg and decimate both your fuel and tax bill.
It’s called the Panamera diesel. It’s still my favourite in the range and to its many talents it can now add exposing the folly of spending so much more on this new model.
Engine: 3.0 litres, six cylinders, twin turbocharged
Power: 420bhp@6000 rpm
Torque: 384lb ft@1700 rpm
Transmission: seven-speed double clutch, rear-wheel drive
Top speed: 178mph