What is it?
With its new Porsche-developed 3.6-litre V6 engine, this is the new entry-level Panamera, although given that it costs more than £60,000 and has the thick end of 300bhp its anything but basic.
What it does is to bring the Panamera within the budget of more buyers, as well as introducing a model that will be much cheaper to run than the existing V8 models.
Costing £61,461 (or £66,929 for the four-wheel-drive model), the Panamera is more than £12,000 less than the cheapest V8 model and pretty much the only difference between the two is the engine. In other words, buying a V8 car means youre paying well into five figures for about 100bhp extra over a car that will already be plenty quick enough for most people.
As well as being cheaper to buy, this new V6 model is also much cheaper to run. With the standard six-speed manual gearbox, it will average 25mpg, but if you specify the optional PDK semi-automatic 'box that comes with an engine stop-start system (standard on the Panamera 4), the average economy climbs to more than 30mpg and CO2 emissions drop to just 218g/km.
Just because this is the cheapest Panamera, you wont be short-changed on equipment. Without having to tick a single box on the options list, you still get bi-xenon headlights, front- and rear parking sensors, heated front seats and touch-screen sat-nav.
Whats it like?
For a car that weighs almost one and three-quarter tonnes, even this basic V6 Panamera is a pretty quick car, capable of hitting 60mph in 6.3 seconds (the PDK-equipped car is half a second quicker than the manual car). The difference between this and the V8 cars is not so much that it feels appreciably slower, more that you need to work it harder to achieve the same performance.
That said, if you drive the V6 version only, youll hardly complain. Its capable of crossing the country at a rapid rate, and blasting past slower traffic with ease.
Of the two gearboxes, the semi-automatic works better than the six-speed manual, which has a relatively heavy action. However, even this PDK isnt perfect, as it can struggle to decide just which of the seven gears to choose, especially as you come on and off the throttle along a typically twisty back-road. That can lead to some awkward hesitation, some rather less-than-smooth changes, and some shunt from the transmission on the four-wheel-drive version, which comes with the PDK box as standard.
Both V6-engined versions come with steel springs as standard, but we were only able to test models with the optional air suspension. However, our time with the car suggests this could be money well spent, because it provides a remarkably smooth ride at all times. With excellent refinement, too, the Panamera makes a superb long-distance mile-munching cruiser.
It also handles very well, and if anything, the fact that the V6 engine is lighter than the V8 means that this car turns into bends even more sharply. However, the sheer size of the car means its not at its best on narrower country roads. Instead, show it something more like a wide, sweeping A-road, and its truly in its element.
What Car says
Overall, this V6 model gives little away to its more expensive siblings. Its every bit as refined and spacious, and is hardly slow, even if the extra grunt of the V8 models give them the upper hand in terms of driveability. Yes, that means the V8-engined models are the more desirable, but when you look at the figures, its this V6 model that seems to make the more sense.