THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Effortless power and superb ride and traction in one of the fastest four-seaters on earth.
- What’s Worst: Super expensive options.
- What’s Interesting: Porsche knows premium buyers still want station wagons and they’ve built one without compromise.
There are luxury cars and then there is the 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo.
But at the very top of the Porsche pecking order is the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo.
When Porsche decided to build sport utility trucks starting with the Cayenne in 2002, Porsche purists were aghast —predicting the company was on the road to oblivion.
If that wasn’t enough, the old guard went into a tizzy when Porsche unveiled the Panamera sedan in 2011 at the Shanghai Motor Show.
I first saw it at the subsequent Los Angeles Auto Show and it struck me as being a kind of stretched and slenderized Cayenne.
While the Panamera is clearly a four-door sedan, the Sport Turismo is something else again.
While one might consider the Sport Turismo with its power liftgate to be a hatchback, it’s really a station wagon, which makes some sense, as wagons are still a mainstay of life in Europe and China, major markets for the brand.
There are four versions of the Sport Turismo with the Turbo at the top and considered by Porsche to be its flagship.
The current Sport Turismo is not the first time Porsche has toyed with the idea of a sports wagon. As far back at 1987, Porsche cobbled up the 928 H50 Concept, a four-seat wagon produced for chairman, Dr. Ferry Porsche, as a surprise on his 75th birthday.
Fast forward to today, and we have the Panamera Sport Turismo that looks and drives like nothing else on the road.
As usual, Porsche adds a “wow” factor, and in this case, it’s an adaptive, extendable upper roof spoiler with three positions that can generate up to 110 lb of downforce on the rear axle.
Called the Porsche Active Aerodynamics (PAA) system, at speeds of up to 170 km/h the spoiler is not deployed.
Above 170 km/h it moves to the plus one-degree position and exerts downforce. When in Sport and Sport Plus ride modes above 90 km/h, the spoiler is automatically deployed.
Interestingly, with the panoramic sunroof open at speeds of about 90 km/h, the spoiler moves to the plus 26-degrees position to cut down on wind noise and buffeting.
And of course, one of main reasons for buying the Sport Turismo is cargo volume, which is 520 litres behind the second row seats, increasing to 1,390 litres second row folded.
In the cargo area there is a variable loading system featuring side rails, partition netting and four tie downs.
Porsche says the Sport Turismo has what it calls 4-1 seating with two outboard, power adjust seats at the back with a vestigial centre seat for occasional use.
The Turbo version as tested gets one of the most powerful engines Porsche offers in the form of a 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 (550 hp, 745 lb/ft). All versions are equipped with Porsche’s permanent all-wheel-drive and eight-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) dual clutch transmission.
My tester was fitted with the optional ($1,840) rear axle steering as part of the Power Steering Plus package that works with 4D Chassis Control and monitors driving conditions in longitudinal, lateral and vertical acceleration dimensions.
The data is then fed into all the chassis and ride systems, thus creating a fourth dimension for the best feedback to the driver to increase his/her level of comfort or performance.
In typical Porsche fashion, the cabin is all high luxury leather in fancy trim, but it’s primarily set up for the driver. There’s a big analog tachometre in the centre of the main instrument cluster, now flanked by twin seven-inch LCD displays aided by a bigger 12.3-inch touchscreen at the top of the centre stack.
Gone are the two rows of toggle switches running down each side of the centre console, replaced by a blacked-out touchscreen with all the controls as before.
Nice, but I liked the toggles because they added so much to the sense of the driver being in control.
During the Easter weekend, I logged just under 700 km in the Sport Turismo; mostly on highways where the apparition of this car looming up with its signature quad LED running lights in each headlight enclosure parted the cars ahead like the Red Sea before Moses.
Passing was effortless and the no charge Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Jam Assist let me enjoy moving along without angst.
At the end of the journey I emerged fully relaxed – a testament to the Sport Turismo’s ability to gobble up ground so effortlessly.
You want to get there in style and comfort along with a load of luggage?
The 2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo has a station wagon for you.
2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo
BODY STYLE: Luxury full-size station wagon
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, permanent all-wheel-drive, eight-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) dual clutch transmission
ENGINE: 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 (550 hp, 745 lb/ft)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Super premium) 13.4/10.1/11.9L/100 km city/highway/combined
CARGO: 520 litres behind the second row seats, 1,390 litres second row folded
TOW RATING: Not recommended
PRICE: $175,600; as tested, $200,890 including $1,250 destination fee
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