Wagons

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo was always intended for America

Were you afraid Porsche would keep the latest, hottest version of its Panamera just for Germany? You shouldn't have been: it was "always part of the plan."

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Spend any amount of time wandering the highways and byways of continental Europe and you'll be treated to a wonderful display of sportwagon fortitude. These high-horsepower estates are very popular in this part of the world -- but not so much in these United States, where wagons are quite often considered one step short of a minivan on the shame scale.

And so when we saw that Porsche was releasing a decidedly sultry, decidedly wagony version of the Panamera called the Sport Turismo, we feared that we might be left out of the fun. As it turns out, we needn't have worried. "It was always part of the plan," Porsche Cars North America CEO Klaus Zellmer told me at the Geneva auto show. "There was never a shade of doubt" that the company would bring the phenomenally quick yet eminently practical car to American shores.

Based on (and incredibly faithful to) the 2012 Panamera Sport Turismo Concept, the production version of the Sport Turismo offers the same selection of power plants as the sedan, starting with the 330-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 on the base and going up to the 550-horsepower, 4.0-liter V8 for the capital-T Turbo version. Starting price? $96,200.

"I'm very positive in the US," Detlev von Platen, Porsche board member and former CEO of PCNA told me when I asked him about whether a high-dollar wagon can succeed in the States. "We had the exact same comments and points when we launched the Panamera in the first place: 'The sedan concept is different, and the hatchback would never work.' What happened? It worked."

Indeed it has, with Panamera accounting for approximately 10 percent of all Porsche cars sold in the US in 2015. Zellmer estimates between 5 and 10 percent of all Panamera buyers in the US will opt for the Sport Turismo, though von Platen told me he expects "a little bit more." Still, those numbers are significantly lower than the average 20 percent Sport Turismo adoption Porsche expects worldwide. In other words: we American wagon fans still have work to do.