2013 Porsche Panamera Diesel review
* Face-lifted diesel Panamera driven on UK roads * New exterior look and cleaner, more frugal engine * On sale now, priced from 62,922...
The face-lifted Porsche Panamera represents more of a spring clean than a serious revision, so you’ll struggle to spot the styling tweaks to this 2013 model; they include a new front bumper, reshaped front and rear lights and a wider rear window.
More significant changes have been made beneath the skin, though, especially to the best-selling 3.0-litre V6 diesel model.
Power is unchanged, but the engine is now cleaner and more frugal, with the revised eight-speed Tiptronic S auto gearbox helping it manage 44.8mpg and 166g/km of CO2.
What’s the 2013 Porsche Panamera like to drive?
The V6 diesel model can accelerate to 62mph in 6.8 seconds, which is impressive given its 1880kg kerb weight. However, while the engine always remains smooth, it doesn't sound particularly dramatic or sporty.
Porsche has done away with the Panamera’s manual gearbox option completely, so the eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic is now standard on the diesel.
It suits the car on faster roads, with intelligent gear selection and near-seamless changes. However, in stop-start traffic it often changes its mind and is slow to respond to manual shifts via the wheel-mounted paddles.
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 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, only struggling with large potholes.
True, the firmest Sport Plus mode does highlight patchy surfaces, but the ride is still far from punishing, and the Panamera stays noticeably flatter during hard cornering.
The Panamera's steering is surprisingly light at low speeds, but this is no bad thing because it helps manoeuvrability in town.
Besides, the steering weights up when you go faster, delivering precise and consistent responses that help you place the front of the car with confidence.
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 2013 Porsche Panamera like inside?
The interior of the Panamera remains mostly 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 nav instructions and a variety of other useful 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 now more 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 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 nearly £9000 less, but is just as well equipped, more 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 this diesel version makes most financial sense and is our pick of the Panamera range.
What Car? says…
Porsche Panamera diesel
Engine size 3.0-litre V6 diesel
Price from £62,922
Torque 406lb ft
0-62mph 6.8 seconds
Top speed 151mph
Fuel economy 44.8mpg