The idea of a Porsche Panamera estate may take a bit of getting used to but in the metal, this Sport Turismo model is remarkably appealing - and usefully practical too. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Porsche's Panamera Sport Turismo is the estate version of the revitalised second generation Panamera range, slotting in alongside the existing standard and long wheelbase hatch models. There's extra space for people and packages, plus, you could argue, an extra dose of style too. And, of course, all the existing Panamera technology.
The Panamera Sport Turismo is 4950mm long, 1990mm wide and 1401mm high, so it's 20mm shorter, 60mm wider and 19mm lower than the existing five-door Panamera hatch. In other words, it's usefully larger, so, in theory at least, should be usefully more practical. As well as extra space in the luggage compartment, the Sport Turismo offers extra space on the back seat. In place of the two individual sports chairs you get in a Panamera hatch, there's a '2+1' bench seat that provides a narrow perch for an extra third occupant - which will be a welcome addition for wealthy family buyers with more than two children. This is the first time ever that any non-SUV Porsche model has offered more than four seats.
Really clever engineering can defy the laws of physics. If you want proof, here it is in the metal. Thanks to fantastic steering and an astonishing lack of body roll on fast, flowing roads, this two-tonne, five-seat Luxury estate segment contender feels almost as agile as a Porsche 911. Or at least it does when specified with all of the brand's expensive dynamic drive technology. There's a lot of it - adaptive anti-roll bars, 'PTV' torque vectoring and a rear-axle steering system are amongst the highlights. 'PASM' adaptive damping is standard, but most Panamera customers embellish it with the optional air suspension set-up. That's one option we've tried; another is the 'Sport Chrono' package that gives you F1-style Launch Control and a 'Drive Mode' system that allows you to alter throttle response, steering feel, stability control thresholds and the reactions of the freshly-developed 8-speed PDK auto gearbox that's now standard-fit across the range. Plus there's a 'Sport Response' button that helps with a burst of acceleration when you need it. All the engines on offer are well capable of providing that. All Sport Turismo models feature 4WD and the range starts with the entry-level 330bhp 3.0-litre V6 petrol variant. Beyond that, there are the three fresh biturbo engines introduced into this second generation Panamera line-up. There are two further petrol units, the 440bhp 2.9-litre V6 used in the 'Panamera 4S Sport Turismo' (which also makes an appearance in the petrol/electric 'E-Hybrid plug-in variant). And the 550bhp 4.0-litre V8 used in the 'Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo.
Wealthy families can also now consider a Panamera, courtesy of the way that this 'Sport Turismo' shooting brake estate model incorporates a small '2+1' centre rear seat that could be used for a child. Mind you, this middle seat is very thin and that, along with the wide transmission tunnel and limited head room means that even older youngsters may object to the thought of travelling in that pew over any distance. This station wagon's 520-litre boot is 20-litres bigger than that of the standard hatch variant and can be converted into a 1,390-litre total loading area. Enough with the practicalities; what about the aesthetics? Well, this Panamera estate gets a longer, straighter and higher roofline than its hatch stablemate, along with slightly larger rear passenger door and boot openings. The car's wheelbase and rear overhang measurements are the same as the standard-wheelbase Panamera's. Up front, the cockpit is the same as the hatch model. As there, many of the controls are situated in a touch-sensitive panel, with other features accessible via a 12.3-inch colour touchscreen in the centre of the dash. It's annoying that you have to prod away at this to alter the airflow out of the central vents. There are also a pair of configurable 7.0-inch screens in the instrument binnacle.
If you want to progress from the standard hatch Panamera to this 'Sport Turismo' variant, the extra cost is only around £2,000 to £3,000. All models come fitted with the brand's freshly developed 8-speed PDK auto gearbox. Prices sit in the £75,000 to £120,000 bracket. Rivals are few. Possibly the Mercedes-AMG E 63 4MATIC, the Audi A7 Sportback and the BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo xDrive: that's about it. It's hard to argue with the amount of kit the car gets as standard. There's a full leather interior, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Bi-Xenon headlights, front and rear ParkAssist, tyre pressure monitoring, 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic dimming rear view mirrors, Porsche Communication Management with touch-screen satellite navigation and audio controls, cruise control and a three year warranty. That's on top of adaptive air suspension and a Porsche Vehicle Tracking System (VTS). Most buyers add the optional 'Sport Chrono' package. This gives you Launch Control' for F1-style get-aways, a dash-top stopwatch and a steering wheel-mounted mode switch for the various driving settings, in the centre of which is a 'Sport Response' button that gives you a short term blast of engine response that'll be useful in tight overtaking manoeuvres.
The efficiency improvements incorporated into this generation Panamera help this Sport Turismo variant deliver an extremely competitive set of stats. With the base 4S Sport Turismo petrol model, the figures are 34.4mpg and 187g/km. The petrol/elected '4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo improves that to 108.6mg and 56g/km of CO2. Included as part of purchase is the usual three year warranty, though this one laudably doesn't come with any mileage limitations. This package can be extended by either one or two further years on request. Panamera owners also get a three year breakdown recovery package, a three year paint warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion guarantee. It's also possible to buy an approved used guarantee for cars with less than 125,000 miles on the clock that are under 14-years old. To qualify, your vehicle also has to pass a 111-point check. If you buy a hybrid model, the battery pack comes with its own 60 month / 75,000 mile guarantee. Finally, let's touch on residual values. After a typical three year / 60,000 mile ownership period, you can expect this car to return almost half of its new price if you opt for a diesel or a lower power petrol variant.
Those who choose this particular Panamera variant will tell you that there's nothing else quite like it. That's not quite true - but it's easy to understand these people's perspective. The Sport Turismo looks unique - and is unique from a Porsche perspective. There must be lots of wealthy family buyers who've always wanted a Porsche but need five seats and don't want an SUV. This is their car. Issues, such as they are, manly relate to those we could level at the standard hatch version. The high price (of course), the relative mean levels of equipment for the money and the car's significant weight. Otherwise, there's much to like. If this is a car you can justify, we envy you.
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