We drove the face-lifted Porsche Panamera Diesel in the UK late last year, but Porsche isn’t finished yet.
The 247bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine of that car has now been replaced by a new, more powerful 296bhp 3.0 V6, which also produces an extra 74lb ft of torque.
That means the Panamera Diesel is now quicker to 62mph, shaving 0.8 seconds off the old car’s 6.8-second sprint time. Its top speed also increases from 151mph to 160mph.
Official fuel economy has suffered slightly (44.8mpg down to 44.1mpg) and CO2 emissions are up from the 166g/km of the old car to 169g/km. However, the Diesel remains in the same tax bands as both a private and company car.
What’s the 2014 Porsche Panamera Diesel like to drive?
Press the Panamera’s throttle down hard and the engine’s extra 49bhp is immediately evident as it surges forward more quickly than before.
The extra torque (now totalling 479lb ft) helps it feel noticeably stronger at lower revs, too, but its smooth power delivery and diesel engine note mean it still doesn’t come across as particularly dramatic or sporty.
Porsche has retuned the standard eight-speed gearbox to better distribute the extra poke and to maximise efficiency but it remains suited to faster roads, where it changes near-seamlessly and intelligently. In slow moving traffic it's sometimes indecisive about which ratio it should pick, and often dithers when you pull away from a standstill.
Hitting the Panamera’s standard 'Sport' button makes the 'box hang on to gears for longer and sharpens the throttle responses. Plus, if you specify the £1052 Active Suspension Management (PASM) system as fitted to our car, the Sport mode stiffens the suspension.
In its softest setting the Panamera is good at soaking up bumps, and it continues to impress in Sport mode, only struggling with large potholes.
True, the firmest Sport Plus mode does highlight patchy surfaces, but the ride is still far from punishing, and it does reduce the Panamera's body lean in hard cornering.
The Panamera's steering is surprisingly light at low speeds, but it weights up when you go faster, delivering precise and consistent responses that help you place the front of the car with confidence.
Porsche's Torque Vectoring system is now standard on the Diesel, which brakes the car's inside rear wheel in fast bends, resulting in better traction through tight, fast bends.
As impressive as the handling is, though, the Panamera is at its best when cruising on wide, high-speed roads, where its excellent suppression of both wind- and road noise keeps things very relaxed.
What’s the 2014 Porsche Panamera Diesel like inside?
The interior of the Panamera remains unchanged, so the rear cabin accommodates only two people, albeit in comfortable, individually adjustable seats. The boot is big enough for daily use, although it's actually not much bigger than a VW Golf's and is an awkward shape.
The Panamera is clearly a luxurious car, though, and it shows. You feel pampered behind the wheel, with the centre console bisecting the cabin and housing most of the switchgear, and a standard colour touch-screen dominating the shallow, upright dashboard.
The dials are simple but classy and easy to read, while another colour readout tucked into the binnacle shows full sat-nav instructions and a variety of other useful functions, including radio and phone information.
All the cabin materials feel appropriately sumptuous, and although the cabin is a bit button-heavy in areas, most of the controls are easy to get the hang of.
Standard equipment is generous, with every Panamera getting steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a powered tailgate and xenon headlights, as well as sat-nav, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, climate control and part-leather upholstery.
Should I buy one?
The Panamera diesel’s brochure price has risen by £2367 to £65,289, but it still has to compete with everything from the BMW 5 Series right the way through to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, plus sleek executive cars such as the Audi A7, Mercedes CLS and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe. Many of them are cheaper and more practical.
In particular, a CLS350 AMG Sport costs some £11,000 less, but is just as well equipped, similarly powerful, more fuel-efficient and has a much larger boot.
Having said that, the Panamera has a lot going for it. It’s a great cruiser and does a better job of pretending to be a sports car than most other posh diesel GT cars. It also has one of the nicest interiors you’ll find anywhere and wears a properly desirable badge.
Perfect it isn’t, but the diesel version still makes the most financial sense and remains our pick of the Panamera range.
What Car? says…
3.0 V6 Diesel
Engine size 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel
Price from £65,289
Torque 479lb ft
Top speed 160mph
Fuel economy 44.1mpg