Although it can't claim a huge practicality gain over the standard Panamera, the new Sport Turismo version certainly shows how good a wagon can look.
A 10 percent increase in your salary would be a nice bump for the year, but a 10 percent bigger office probably won't be a game-changer at work. In that regard, the 2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo, with its 10 percent larger cargo area over the standard Panamera, makes a minimal case for itself.
However, just look at its long roofline and wide D-pillar. Check out the spoiler at the top of the hatch, and the clean, horizontal taillight line across the back. The Panamera Sport Turismo is one fine-looking car, and I would take it over the standard Panamera, the limousine in Porsche terminology, any day of the week.
Porsche first showed a design study for the Panamera Sport Turismo at the 2012 Paris motor show, where it gained positive feedback. During a Porsche-sponsored press drive for the 2018 Panamera Sport Turismo, Vehicle Product Line Manager Christian Hauck said that after the design study, the company put that idea aside for a few years while working on other projects.
At this year's Geneva auto show, we saw that Porsche returned to the Panamera Sport Turismo, giving our first look at the full production version. A little more angular than the design study, the production vehicle follows the design direction of the Panamera.
Easing the production of the Panamera Sport Turismo, Porsche equipped it with the same drivetrains as the Panamera, with the one exception that all versions of the new vehicle come standard with all-wheel-drive. That means the base model, the Panamera 4 Sport Turismo, comes with a turbocharged 3-liter V6, good for 330 horsepower, while the next up, the Panamera 4S Sport Turismo, gets twin turbochargers on a 2.9-liter V6 to produce 440 horsepower.
At the press event, I drove the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo and the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo, the latter claiming the most power, using its twin turbocharged four-liter V8 to make 550 horsepower and 567 pound-feet of torque. On the power game, the E-Hybrid version is no slouch, achieving a system output of 462 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That output comes from the combination of its twin turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 engine and 136 horsepower electric motor.
Sharing the drive with another journalist, I spent time on the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo's passenger side wondering, "what's so special about this car?" It certainly had nice interior appointments, punctuated by an exceptional-sounding Burmester stereo. And from a gadget perspective, I liked the wide 12.3-inch touchscreen in the center dash, coupled with responsive haptic touch areas on the console to quickly bring up navigation, audio, phone and car settings.
The ride character, however, felt solid but unexceptional, despite the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo's adaptive suspension.
When I got behind the wheel, my perception shifted in a big way. Porsche sports-car DNA was immediately evident through the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo's steering wheel. The Doppelkupplung (PDK), Porsche's name for its dual-clutch automated manual transmission, shifted seamlessly in automatic mode and always seemed to be in the right gear for the amount of power I wanted. Shifting manually, the PDK spit out gear changes quickly and efficiently.
On a twisty road, the car's athleticism became apparent. I could feel its capability in the turns, as well as its readiness for even more speed. The wagon body did not detract from the experience at all. Rather than any untoward squeaks or other signs of an expanded cabin area, the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo felt as quiet and controlled as its lighter counterpart.
Engaging launch control, very easy to do in the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo, let me experience its tremendous 3.4 seconds from zero to 60 mph acceleration, which hits like a Hulk-size punch in the back.
Although down on power by comparison, I found equal enjoyment in the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Although a second slower on acceleration to 60 mph, it felt very quick, and gave me plenty of confidence to pass slower traffic on a two lane road. It's hybrid drivetrain shares roots with that of Porsche's 918 Spyder super car. Not only does it deliver a big power boost, it can also serve up superior fuel economy, as its plug-in hybrid drive system can go for about 30 miles on electricity alone.
Turning the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo's key led to a silent start-up and takeoff, as the electric motor can run it all the way up to 86 mph. Sub-modes for the hybrid system made the engine actively recharge the battery, or maintained the battery level by relying more on the engine.
To enhance the Panamera Sport Turismo's handling, Porsche equips it with an active spoiler on the rear hatch. Although I couldn't see it working while driving, it automatically tips up at speed to create greater downforce. Opening the sunroof, which tips up from the back, caused the rear spoiler to tip up to a greater degree, evidence of Porsche's exhaustive wind tunnel testing.
Given the brand, you can expect executive pricing, as it were, with the 2018 Porsche Panamera 4 Sport Turismo starting at $96,200. Stepping up to the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, with its big power boost and ability to run fully on electricity, will cost $104,000, not a huge jump over the base model considering what you get. The most powerful version, the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo, goes for $154,000, but includes many standard features that are optional on the lower tiers.
The Panamera Sport Turismo actually enjoys a few more practicalities over its limousine sibling. Rather than a trunk lip, as in the standard Panamera, the rear hatch of the Panamera Sport Turismo drops all the way to the cargo load floor, making it easier to load golf clubs or whatever else the kind of person who can afford this car want to fit in the back. The longer roofline means the rear seat headroom is substantially better than that of the Panamera and, for the first time in the Panamera line-up, Porsche offers a middle rear seat, making the Panamera Sport Turismo a five-seater.
A wagon body may seem like a strange thing to call out as an aesthetic achievement, but it's a look that really works on the Panamera Sport Turismo. So in this case, 10 percent is enough.
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