What is it?
A necessity. If the Porsche Panamera is going to compete in the sports saloon category in any sizeable numbers it needs a diesel engine, so Porsche borrowed a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel from its Audi relations and fitted it to the Panamera. The result is a car that returns 44.8mpg and emits just 167g/km, all while reaching 62mph in a credible 6.8 seconds and a maximum speed of 150mph.
Is it any good?
Get out of one of the Panamera Diesel's loony quick V8 S or Turbo relatives and you'll find it lacking. The 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine simply doesn't have the ability to shock as its petrol relatives do with their incredible pace. The shock for their drivers also comes at the pumps though, which is why Porsche anticipates that as much as 50% of Panamera sales in the UK will be of this diesel model. By conventional measure 247bhp and that sub seven-second 0-62mph time is respectable, and in real-world driving it's unlikely you'll ever really want for more.
The strong mid-range torque makes it an easy cruiser, it running along the motorway barely ticking over. There's ample power for overtaking, and the eight-speed automatic transmission is quick and slick. The lack of outright pace actually allows you to revel in the Panamera's natural balance and poise more. It's enjoyable using its fine handling and control to carry speed through corners rather than using the power of the petrol cars.
Its hatchback shape might not offer the best in class boot space, but the rear seats - two only - are surprisingly comfortable. Sure, you're slightly hemmed in by the centre tunnel and sloping roof, but it's a nice environment to spend time in. You'll want to be driving though, as whatever engine's under the bonnet the Panamera is an impressive and highly capable sports saloon.
Should I call the bank manager?
With a price starting at £62,124 before you've added a few choice options it's not unreasonable to consider giving the bank a call. Whatever the initial outlay though the running costs should be reasonable, with 44.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 167g/km possible if you've gone for the low-rolling resistance tyres (it's 43.5mpg and 172g/km on standard tyres).
It's easy to write off the Panamera Diesel as lacking when compared to its petrol relatives. Certainly it's not as brutally fast, but nor is it slow. Its qualities lie elsewhere, chiefly in its ability to stretch out the stops between expensive fills of its 80-litre tank, but despite its lesser performance it remains an engaging, interesting car to drive. Further, for longer and less expensively. Which, these days, really counts.