Resident Evil? Diesel power in a Porsche Panamera - CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS

Uploaded by drive on 12.09.2012


There are some words that just doesn't belong together.
Salmon and ketchup.
DeLorean and handling.
Porsche and diesel.
That's right.
Porsche and that oily fraction of crude that
doesn't want to ignite.
When Porsche said it was making a diesel Panamera with
a tweaked Audi engine to boot, I swear, Dr. Ferdinand
Porsche's grave [INAUDIBLE].

But the problem with having deeply, deeply trenchant views
on stuff like diesel Porsches, is that you set yourself up
for a massive fall if, for the sake of argument, Porsche
makes a diesel and you end up liking it.
Because that's what's happened with me.
I'm spending--
I don't know--
3-4 months living with a Panamera diesel, and I have to
say, it's extraordinarily good.
It's so much better than I thought it was going to be.
And it's so much nicer to live with than I expected from my
experience on a first drive last summer
when the car was launched.
I've had to swallow some pride.
But then again, not as bad as Mr. Wiedeking, when he was the
boss of Porsche--
and I think it was the facelift Boxster
launch back in 2002--
told me categorically there'll be no diesel Porsches.
Well, here we are in one.
What's the Panamera like as a big exec saloon car?
It's right on the sporty side of exec.
That means that the ride is quite firm.
This car is on steel springs, not on air.
And it just changes direction superbly.
You sit low.
The steering is fantastic.
I think it's the most impressive big sports sedan
I've driven, really.
It's just excellent to be in.
A couple of other things you need to know about the
Panamera diesel.
To start with, it may be an Audi V6 turbo diesel, but I'm
barely aware of that fact.
It makes a nicer noise-- it makes actually quite a
pleasant noise.
The throttle response is better.
It just feels different.
Porsche have recalibrated it and done it well.
They've taken the same old ingredients and produced a
better food.
The other thing is the way that it goes around corners.
It is supreme.
Long wheelbase, wide tracks.
It's a big car on UK roads, but you can just steer it with
so much accuracy.
OK, it's quite firm, but it's remarkably easy to thread,
and, I think, really enjoyable.
This car feels rear driven.
Not many turbo diesels do.
So if you want to, you can neutralize the car mid-corner
with a load of gas.
It's impressive.
So much more impressive than perhaps some people think.
Now what about the looks.
It's not for me to judge the way anything looks.
Look at the way I present myself.
I just don't care.
But I like the look of the Panamera.
I like the fact that it's completely different.
I think it's really cool from the front.
Neil probably brought this bit out, because he thinks the
Panamera looks absolutely dreadful, so he'll
lose it in the edit.
And most of the British population seems to
disagree with me.
But I really like the way it looks.
Now, the main problem with the Panamera diesel is the
perception of the car's performance.
There can be no queries and quibbles about the way it goes
about its performance on the road.
This powertrain is exceptional.
Yes, it's the Audi V6 turbo diesel, and it's the
high-speed gearbox.
But the management of torque, gear ratios, and performance,
and most of all, refinement.
This car is so refined.
That is just extraordinary, and I defy anyone to not think
it's incredibly refined.
Now, the bone of contention is the amount of
performance it offers.
So I'm referring directly back to the thread on
piston heads actually.
I wrote that I was driving the car, and a load of people came
on and just said, it's rubbish, it's not fast enough
to be a Porsche.
It's just not fast enough.
Full stop.
Well, today I'd like to answer a couple of
those points really.
On the one hand, what is fast enough for a road car?
That's what comes out of the discussion.
The other thing is, what's fast enough for a car to wear
a Porsche badge?
That's an interesting notion as well.
But also, is this car fast enough as a turbo diesel
saloon car?
I mean, some people might think it isn't.
But everything subjectively that I've done in this car--
I've driven it to Stuttgart and back.
I've done 5-6,000 miles in it already.
Every minute I've spent in it, it's felt fast enough, but
people don't believe me.
People just say I'm saying that for the sake of it.
Well, I'm not.
I drive lots of cars.
Lots of really fast cars.
But this one, for the road, feels just right to me.
Just right.
But does anyone wait for me to really prove that to you?
And that's to come to a proving ground.
Put some timing gear on it, or rather use Dynolicious on my
iPhone, which is just wonderful.
And then run some numbers.
So we're going to run it against the clock on the
standing quarter to see how fast it is and then stick it
on the high speed bowl at Millbrook.
Because that's the best proving ground in
the UK, isn't it?
So yeah.
Panamera diesel goes for a figuring session.
It's a bit like taking a slightly fat person to the
beach, isn't it?
You shouldn't really do it.
But the fact is, I need to prove this.
I can't just justify the Panamera diesel subjectively.
I need to give you some numbers.

So here we are at Millbrook on the Mile Straight.
I always get a bit misty eyed when I come here, because this
is where I started out doing this car testing game.
car road test tests, come up here once a week and see how
fast cars would go.
Rather a simple exercise, but one I always found endlessly
enjoyable and from which I learned to attach a certain
amount of importance to the raw data that a car produces.
60 maybe even 30, 100 standing quarters, all of
that sort of stuff.
Now driving this car, subjectively it feels
absolutely fast enough for me.
But I've said that.
And subjectivity isn't something
that you need to believe.
However, if I do a run in this car on the Mile Straight,
hopefully we can prove to you that it's
actually quite quick.
I've got Dynolicious plugged in here on my iPhone.
Very accurate.
So I press Test Start.
We'll wind it off the line a little bit, and
then see what happens.

It still feels fast to me.
Even in a straight line at a great big test track.
Through 60, easy.
Through 80.
Now then, what do we match this car against?
Because what I find interesting is everyone says
this car isn't fast enough.
But what really is fast enough?
Because that's just popped in a 6.9-second run there.
And that wasn't an ideal launch.
It's also telling me that the standing quarter was completed
in 15.2 seconds at a terminal speed of 96 miles an hour.
But if I told you that earlier a couple of times it did 14.9
seconds at a terminal speed of-- wait for it--
99.1 miles an hour, does that make this car not fast enough?
Because one of my benchmark references for a car of this
type is the original E60 535d BMW.
And that car would record 6 seconds dead to 60 miles an
hour and 15 seconds dead to 100.
Well, this car will do about 6.56.
So round it up 6.6 to 60.
And it was saying it does 99.1 miles an hour after a standing
stop in 14.9 seconds.
That must mean that it's doing around 15.5 to a 100,
somewhere between 15 and 16 seconds.
So it's within a second from 0 to a 100 over 535d.
That has to make this car fast enough, doesn't it?
I mean tell me I'm wrong.

And how fast does a car need to be?
So Porsche claims that this car will do 150 miles an hour.
So we know that it will already get to 100 miles an
hour pretty quickly.
So why does it need to go more than 150?
I don't know.
I mean, given that it will actually average 40 miles to
the gallon when you're going quick.
Anyhow, let's clock it and see what it'll do.
We're up to a 100 miles an hour now.
Indicated 120.
That's 140.
144 indicated.
Feels like it's sort of had enough there.
146 still.
Not sure of the wind direction.
Wind plays a big part on this bowl.
147, 148.
Now it's still creeping up.
150 indicated.
That's still only 145, 148, 149 on the GPS.
So that's creeping up now.

And that's 149 on the GPS.
148, 149 it's averaging.
That's dead impressive because that means that on the flat,
this is doing 155, 156 real miles an hour.
And it feels pretty unruffled to me.
Now in what world do we live where that is not considered
to be fast enough?
I just find it quite bizarre.

Now, this is right up there with the most pointless
exercises I've been involved with.
We're at the Millbrook Handling Circuit.
Also known as the place where we put space savers on a C63
AMG back at the beginning of the year, if I remember.
Why am I driving a Panamera diesel out here?
Well, this is a Porsche, isn't it?
It's supposed to be a sports saloon.
Let's see what it's like.
I think it's pretty good, so I still can't quite
believe it's a diesel.
I mean, it feels [INAUDIBLE]
fast to me.
The gearbox is good.
It'll actually [INAUDIBLE]
downshift for you.
Loads of torque.
Up the back here, it's fast, fast, fast.
It's flat once you [INAUDIBLE] through the direction change.
Really good.
I mean, this is a standard car on steel suspension.
It doesn't have air suspension.
And it's dead impressive because of it.
I love the way it steers.
I just think it has the best steering of
any big saloon car.

And you can really feel that it's rear driven.
It's not giving me big oversteer, but the steering's
uncorrupted and I've got this nice push.
So when I throttle, I can control the front of the car,
and it's not understeering at all.
And it's really strolling on.
It's quite quick.
Do you know what?
If it's surprising on the road, it's even more
surprising here.

So what we have here is a four-seat saloon car that
weighs 1,900 kilograms, but will cover null to 60 in about
6.6 seconds, 100 miles an hour in around about 15.5 seconds.
And on the Millbrook bowl, it'll do over a 150 miles an
hour, which we know means nearly 160 on the flat.
And yet, when you're not on it, this car will average 45
miles to the gallon on a long journey.
Do you know what?
If that's the blend of talents that occurs when Porsche makes
a diesel, then I can live with it.
Which is good, because I am living with it.