We’ve waited a long time to drive the new second-generation Porsche Panamera in the UK, but things are looking up the moment it arrives. While lesser models have V6 turbo engines, the one we’re getting to drive has a stonking great V8, putting out 422hp to all four wheels. Instant win.

Just one sticking point. It’s a diesel. Porsche giveth with one hand… but wait. It’s actually an engine fundamentally the same as the Bentley Bentayga Diesel, one that produces 627lb ft of torque at 1,000rpm, one that does 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds and 0-125mph in 16.8 seconds. And 178mph. And 42.2mpg. This is some V8.

It sits within an all-new Panamera that looks sleeker than before, thanks to a 30mm longer wheelbase and 20mm slim-down for the rear roofline, but which isn’t revolutionary. The interior is, though. It’s unquestionably a step on even from its direct rivals, never mind the fiddly setup of the old car. Trade-up Panamera owners are going to be blown away.

Particularly cool are the haptic controls on the centre console. They’re blank and glossy with the engine off. Only with it turned on do they light up and show their functions. Add in a swipe-tastic high-resolution screen in the centre of the dash, and more electronic displays embedded within some of the 911-like round dials, and you’ve a car that has the wow factor in abundance.

Promisingly, the driving position remains low-slung, like a sports car and unlike a boring old luxury saloon. The perfect place to experience a V8 diesel that has the immense power and speed similar to a sports car. Even the noise, all bassy throb, is purposeful. Believe us, this engine is fantastic.

OK, you’re thinking, but does it ride like a sports car? As in, uncomfortably? Well, partly because of a spec quirk that means you can only choose a UK Panamera 4S Diesel on optional PASM adaptive air suspension for now, absolutely not. Even cranking it up to full firmness delivers composure over bumps, with only the very harshest being transmitted to the cabin. In default mode, it’s every inch the sleek alternative to a Mercedes-Benz CLS.

Don’t whatever you do think you can chuck it about like a sports car, though. It’s way too big for that. The front end is sharp and four-wheel drive gives it great balance, but poor visibility and its sheer size soon tempers back-road enthusiasm. If all that doesn’t, the fact it weighs more than 2.1 tonnes eventually will – you don’t feel it until you find you have to stamp the brakes harder than you expected…

Of course, it’s big and bulbous in town as well. Unlike the boot, which is surprisingly shallow. Don’t rely on the parking camera either, because that soon gets covered in gunk in grotty wintry weather.

We don’t mind. Such is the attitude and formidable performance of the new Panamera 4S Diesel, you can forgive it for its size getting in the way at times. It’s a brilliant way to transport four people at very high speed over very long distances in engaged comfort, and works supremely well in the UK. The wait was worth it.


Engine: 3,956cc V8 diesel, two sequential turbos
Transmission: 8-speed PDK dual-clutch, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 422@5,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 627@1,000-3,250rpm
0-62mph: 4.3sec (with launch control)
Top speed: 179mph (limited)
Weight: 2,125kg (EU with driver)
MPG: 42.2 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 176g/km
Price: £91,788 (£112,291 as tested comprising Sapphire Blue Metallic £893; LED main headlights with matrix beam including Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus £1,451; ParkAssist including Surround View £1,005; Adaptive air suspension including Porsche Active Suspension Management 'Standard suspension unavailable. Only orders with adaptive air suspension accepted at price indicated. Update due 08/17.' £1,541; Sport Chrono Package £1,344; 21-inch Sport Design wheels £2,370; ioniser £206; four-zone automatic climate control 14-way power seats [front] with memory package £1,340; eight-way power seats [rear] with memory package £1,665; Seat heating £353; Seat massage function [front seats, incl. seat ventilation front and rear] £2,285; Night Vision Assist £1,683; Lane Keep Assist incl. speed limit indicator £764; ISOFIX child seat mounting points on front passenger seat £129; Electric roll-up sunblind for behind rear compartment and electric roll-up sunblind for rear side windows £918; Steering wheel heating £194; BOSE Surround Sound System £1,022 and USB interface in rear £233)