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WHEN deciding on which version of the Porsche Panamera to choose from, the 4S Diesel may seem like the fuel-sipping option and not much more.
But the new Porsche Panamera 4S Diesel is not just that. In addition to superb consumption, it is also the world's fastest diesel saloon in series production.
This is the first time the Panamera 4S Diesel is being offered with all-wheel-drive, which mates its V8 turbodiesel to a new eight-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission (from seven speeds previously).
This combination of the twin-turbo V8's back-thumping torque and the grip of AWD allows the 4S Diesel to sprint from zero to 100 kmh in 4.3 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package, which modifies the engine, transmission and chassis settings.
But looking at the Panamera 4S Diesel, you can hardly tell it is an oil-burner.
On the bootlid, "Diesel" has been dropped from the name and the badge merely states "Panamera 4S". It could be mistaken for the 2.9-litre V6, which is also called the Panamera 4S. Except for the engine sound.
There is no diesel clatter but it doesn't sound like a petrol unit either. At idle, there is a slightly nasal note that is surprisingly not unpleasant.
From inside the brand new cabin, only a throaty growl is heard. Also evident is the twin-turbo diesel engine's breathtaking elasticity.
It brims with torque, with the maximum of 850 Nm available from a mere 1,000 rpm, or just above idling speed.
The fuel consumption, as stated by Porsche, is a frugal 6.8 litres per 100 km under the combined cycle, yet there is more torque than a truck. The 4S's elasticity is breathtaking.
Cruising at 200 kmh, it can still lurch forward eagerly when the accelerator is further depressed. This has to be the epitome of effortlessness.
Yet, this turbodiesel is still a little quieter at full pelt than the Panamera Turbo with a V8 petrol engine and the same 4.0-litre displacement.
The second-generation Panamera comes with a sport response button to prime the engine and transmission for maximum responsiveness over 20 seconds. Like a selectable overboost function, it is ideal for situations such as more rapid overtaking.
The sport response button is in the centre of the rotary mode switch with its normal, sport, sport plus and individual driver settings.
Even in normal, the Panamera 4S has perfectly weighted steering and exemplary body control. It may not feel as sharp as a 911 coupe, but for a four-seater saloon that is 5.05 metres long and weighs in at a shade over two tonnes (2,050 kg to be precise), it is the most confident full-size sedan. Period.
Its agility is guaranteed by two new systems - rear-axle steering and 4D Chassis Control chassis management. The latter integrates longitudinal, transverse and vertical acceleration for a combined response to each driving situation.
From behind the wheel, the driving position for taller drivers is superb - you sit low with good head and elbow room. In fact, Porsche says the cabin accommodates four adults up to 1.93 metres tall.
The beautiful cabin also stands out, with its vibrant digital displays and clutter-free centre console. Add the prettier, more accessible exterior styling and the new Porsche Panamera has to be the best full-size sports sedan today.
Porsche Panamera 4S Diesel
Engine: 3,956cc V8 turbodiesel
Gearbox: 8-speed dual-clutch transmission
Max power: 422 hp @ 3,500-5,000 rpm
Max torque: 850 Nm @ 1,000-3,250 rpm
0-100 kmh: 4.3 secs
0-200 kmh: 16.8 secs
Top speed: 285 kmh
CO2 emissions: 178 g/km
Price from: S$556,988 (without COE)
Distributor: Stuttgart Auto