2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo review: Mo' storage, no problems
We've already reviewed the bonkers, 680-horsepower PHEV variant, but if your budget lies closer to the $100,000 mark, this base-model Panamera 4 Sport Turismo will still check all your boxes. It looks great, it drives like a sports car without being uncomfortable and its cabin tech is mighty impressive.
Junk in the trunk, but not much more
In the transformation from sedan to wagon, the much-prettier-than-it-used-to-be Panamera lengthens the roof to accommodate a larger rear end and a separate third side window that brings it into wagon territory.
You'd think that this would mean a big bump in cargo capacity, but it only adds 0.7 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seats up (17.6 versus 18.3), and less than 2.0 cubic feet with the rear seats folded (47.3 versus 49). Given the Panamera 4 Sport Turismo's $6,600 price premium over the standard Panamera 4, your choice will largely be an aesthetic one.
Drives like a Porsche
Make no mistake, the Panamera 4 Sport Turismo drives like a sports car, albeit one that's been softened up a smidge for family duty.
My Sport Turismo tester's standard air suspension has two sport settings that stiffen the ride and lower the car, making for some properly flat handling. Throw the Panamera into Comfort and it does a decent job of soaking up the bad parts of the road, even with my tester's optional 20-inch wheels (19s are standard) and low-ish profile 275/40 front and 315/35 rear tires. The suspension's best feature, though, is a standard lift mode that makes climbing my steep driveway a breeze, and you can even map it to a multipurpose button on the steering wheel for easy access.
The base Panamera 4's 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 is impressive, putting out 330 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque. It starts with a surprisingly loud bark, eventually settling into a pleasant grumble that only really stands out at high revs. The new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is smooth in every mode, knocking off shifts almost imperceptibly.
The Feds rate the Panamera 4 Sport Turismo at 20 mpg city and 26 mpg. I'm not overly happy with the 18-ish mpg I see in the city, but my standard highway fuel economy loop actually returns numbers closer to 30 or 31 mpg, so if you're in it for the long hauls, it's a performer in that aspect, too.
Porsche's latest PCM infotainment system lives on a slick 12.3-inch dashboard screen that has touch capability and redundant navigation controls below. It's fast, the home screen offers a bunch customization options and it includes Apple CarPlay -- sorry, Android Auto fans, there's nothing for you here.
The center console might look like it's covered in buttons, but that's a lie -- it's actually a capacitive touch interface with haptic feedback that feels, for all intents and purposes, like buttons. They work well, but as Tim Stevens notes in his Turbo S E-Hybrid review, they collect fingerprints and display them prominently.
My biggest tech gripe concerns the climate control's central vent. It can only be adjusted using the touchscreen, which is difficult to set right and damn near impossible to use if the car isn't stationary.
Porsche's latest driver-assist systems, like full-speed adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist, are tucked away in the $5,370 Assistance package, which my tester lacks. But parking sensors are standard, which is great, and blind spot monitoring isn't too expensive to add by itself at $1,060. Autobrake isn't standard, instead offered as part of the adaptive cruise control option.
How I'd spec it
Porsche will let you customize just about every inch of the car, from driver-assist tech to covering the air vents in leather. I'm going to keep it simple and focus on the kit that matters beyond aesthetics.
Starting with a $96,200 base Panamera 4 Sport Turismo, I'll add $830 for one of their metallic paint colors, since black and white are the only standard hues. Then I'll add the $6,250 Premium Package Plus, which includes keyless access, seat heating and ventilation, 14-way power front seats, LED headlights, a Bose audio upgrade and blind spot monitoring. I'd skip the Assistance package since I rarely use that tech outside of evaluation. From a performance standpoint, I'll add the $1,620 four-wheel steering since it's great in tight confines. I'm dropping $3,860 on the sport exhaust with black tailpipes, because I love noise.
That leaves us with a $109,810 window sticker, which is pretty decent all things considered. If I spec it out with the interior exactly how I want it (full club leather, four-corner massaging seats, etc.), it's closer to $125,000.
Down to brass tacks
The station wagon is in a strange spot in 2018. Buyers in affordable segments have shifted wholesale to SUVs and crossovers, shirking even the once-evergreen sedan. If you want a cheap wagon, your options are very limited. If you have a crapload of money to shell out, though, luxury automakers are here to accommodate.
Yet, the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo has no even-keel competitor. Its wagon competition, comprising the Jaguar XF Sportbrake, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Volvo V90, are all based on smaller sedans and thus carry smaller price tags. Its more appropriate competition would be the Audi A7, Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Mercedes CLS-Class and Mercedes S-Class, even though none are available as wagons. Price tags are about even, but none really place the focus on driving like the Panamera.
Thus, if you're in the market for something big and fun that also happens to start around the six-figure range, the Panamera 4 Sport Turismo is a hard act to beat. It provides for a solid mix of driving dynamics, tech and comfort. The extra cargo space and the aesthetics that come with it are just icing on the cake.