Until the Cayenne diesel launched a few years back, oil burners were off-limits at Porsche since, well, forever. Former CEO Wendelin Wiedeking—not exactly someone you’d call a car guy—harbored a prejudice against the diesel, calling it a “stinker.” And thus, the diesel engine had no chance of hitting the market. (Though it didn’t stop engineers from developing a prototype diesel Boxster roughly 15 years ago.) Naturally, when Porsche launched its first crossover, the management knew a diesel was a must-have if sales were to be strong in Europe, and so the Cayenne got a powerful dizzler from the Audi stable.
And so it follows that the Panamera will now receive its own diesel as well. The 3.0-liter V-6 is sourced from Audi, and it makes 250hp and 406 lb-ft—the latter arriving at just 1750 rpm. With Porsche estimating 0-to-60 times of 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 150 mph, the diesel Panamera will be the slowest model in the range, but a mountain of torque should help the car from ever feeling slow on the road. Fortunately, Porsche’s projections also put the Panamera diesel at the top of its family in fuel efficiency, bettering even the Panamera S hybrid by roughly 10 percent. The gasoline V-6 Panamera will lag far behind.
The diesel Panamera will be sold only with an eight-speed torque-converter autobox and rear-wheel drive. On the German market, it is priced exactly the same as is the gasoline-drinking Panamera V-6 with the optional 7-speed dual-clutch transmission; the Panamera S hybrid is far more expensive.
As is the case with the diesel-powered Cayenne, Porsche hasn’t positioned the Panamera diesel to dominate the segment—in fact, it’s not even close. There are diesel models with far more power available from Porsche’s siblings, Audi and VW, sporting eight- and 12-cylinder engines. By contrast, Porsche’s offering of the diesel Panamera looks like the company is just going through the motions, boosting its overall fuel economy ratings, and presenting an option for people who want the badge without the higher running costs of a gasoline engine. At least the result here is a fine long-distance cruiser, with the diesel Panamera boasting a fantastic range of up to 750 miles on a single tank.
The car’s prospects for coming to the U.S.? Highly unlikely. For a fuel-efficient Panamera, we’ll have to make do with the hybrid. Or, better still, not get a fuel-efficient Panamera.