By Miles Downard
The idea that Porsche now makes SUVs and saloon cars might irk the purists somewhat (and by ‘now’, I mean for the last 15 years or so), but once you understand the Porsche mantra the matter becomes a little more palatable.
You see what Porsche has always done, and continues to do so now, is build sports cars. The fact that an SUV or saloon body is then placed on top thereof is merely to serve differing customer needs.
Take the Panamera for example. This might not be the flashiest of Porsche product, but that’s exactly the point. Even more so in the case of the Sport Turismo edition I recently had the pleasure of testing. This is the sensible Porsche, one with four doors, four proper seats and a big, cavernous boot thanks to the shooting brake (read: station wagon) layout. And thanks to those facts it’s a Porsche that is much easier to justify. School run? No problem. Family holiday? Easy. Mountain bike in the back? Sure. Stately station wagon in the office parking? Indeed. Blistering fun on the weekend? Most definitely. That’s not a trick many players in the market can achieve, somewhere along the line there is a compromise. Not so in this Sport Turismo.
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Under the sculpted bonnet you’ll find a twin turbocharged 3.0 litre V6 engine, capable in ‘S’ guise of 0-100km/h in around 4 seconds. That’s fairly brisk by any standards but the party tricks don’t end there. The Panamera Sport Turismo runs a clever all wheel drive system that is largely rear biased, meaning the car retains a traditional sports car feel while integrating the safety and surefootedness of all four wheels being involved if needed. What that translates to on the road is nearly beyond what one would think possible in a car weighing over 1800kg. There’s poise and accuracy to the chassis that allows the car to respond in a linear fashion to driver inputs. Only an over zealous entry to a corner will unsettle the Panamera, showing up it’s fairly hefty weight. Settle all that down however and the Porsche turns into a comfortable cruiser capable of eating up the miles on an open road in comfort and with very few cabin obtrusions.
On the inside you’ll find an efficient and sophisticated instrument cluster and centre console. Controls are placed intuitively in an almost aircraft cockpit style layout that would be rather pleasing to the eye of someone with a mild case of OCD. A big touch screen display dominates the upper section of the dashboard, almost flowing into the instrument cluster. It manages all the more finicky setup and customisation options, while buttons and toggles sat in the piano black expanse below handle the more day to day controls. It’s all very seamless.
What really sells the Sport Turismo edition for me is the fact that it’s rather different. In a world where everyone and their dog is shopping for an SUV, the odd ball shooting brake stands out while remaining rather subtle. I know that’s a contradiction of terms, but it’s a feat one can only really appreciate in person.
Competitors are difficult to list here given the roles the Panamera Sport Turismo is capable of playing. The more traditional executive saloons like the BMW 7 and Mercedes S play more in the realm of fancy gadgets and exceptional comfort but lack the exotic name and sports pedigree. Maserati’s Quattroporte is probably as close as it gets, but strip away that Italian allure and the Porsche is where smart money will likely end up.
It’s safe to say that this Panamera Sports Turismo will serve you well if you’ve got an ounce of driving enthusiast in your soul, but still need an extra ounce of sensibility to go along with it.