Paffett set the fastest time of the weekend so far on his final lap of the 20-minute session, recording a 1m17948s in his Mercedes C63 to eclipse fellow Briton di Resta's early benchmark by 0.073 seconds.
Di Resta failed to improve on his second set of runs, securing Paffett a fourth pole of the season.
Former Manor and Sauber Formula 1 driver Pascal Wehrlein completed the top three, qualifying only 13 thousandths slower than di Resta.
Rene Rast was the fastest non-Mercedes driver in fourth, a little more than a tenth off the pace in his Audi RS5, ahead of Saturday front row starter Lucas Auer and Robin Frijns.
Race one runner-up Augusto Farfus was BMW's leading representative in seventh, with Loic Duval (Audi) eighth ahead of another two BMW drivers - Marco Wittmann and Philipp Eng.
The third Briton on the grid, Jamie Green, was 11th and less than four tenths off pole in his RS5 ahead of Mike Rockenfeller.
All but one of the 18 cars qualified within a second of each other, with Bruno Spengler bringing up the rear by improving to a 1m19.115s on his final lap.
|1||2||Gary Paffett||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||7||1'17.948|
|2||3||Paul di Resta||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||7||1'18.021||0.073|
|3||94||Pascal Wehrlein||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||8||1'18.034||0.086|
|4||33||René Rast||Audi RS5 DTM||9||1'18.052||0.104|
|5||22||Lucas Auer||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||8||1'18.135||0.187|
|6||4||Robin Frijns||Audi RS5 DTM||11||1'18.140||0.192|
|7||15||Augusto Farfus||BMW M4 DTM||7||1'18.182||0.234|
|8||28||Loic Duval||Audi RS5 DTM||11||1'18.205||0.257|
|9||11||Marco Wittmann||BMW M4 DTM||9||1'18.244||0.296|
|10||25||Philipp Eng||BMW M4 DTM||7||1'18.304||0.356|
|11||53||Jamie Green||Audi RS5 DTM||9||1'18.315||0.367|
|12||99||Mike Rockenfeller||Audi RS5 DTM||9||1'18.330||0.382|
|13||16||Timo Glock||BMW M4 DTM||7||1'18.508||0.560|
|14||23||Daniel Juncadella||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||7||1'18.517||0.569|
|15||51||Nico Müller||Audi RS5 DTM||9||1'18.607||0.659|
|16||47||Joel Eriksson||BMW M4 DTM||9||1'18.654||0.706|
|17||48||Edoardo Mortara||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||9||1'18.670||0.722|
|18||7||Bruno Spengler||BMW M4 DTM||8||1'19.115||1.167|