PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY ADDED, PER­SON­AL­ITY BOOSTED

Porsche’s fast­back flag­ship is more prac­ti­cal and more per­son­able in Sport Turismo for­mat.

Torque (Singapore) - - DRIVE -

STurismo – not wagon, nor shooting brake. That is what Porsche would like its third model in the Panamera range to be known. The Panamera models hith­erto have been the fast­back sa­loon and the long-wheel­base Ex­ec­u­tive.

I asked An­dreas Jaksch, di­rec­tor of the Panamera Sport Turismo model/prod­uct line, whether the new Porsche is a shooting brake (a car bodystyle, pop­u­lar in Europe, which is a lux­ury es­tate based on a sa­loon). With a smile, he replied, “It is a Sport Turismo.”

Re­leased 10 months af­ter the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Panamera, the Sport Turismo vari­ant was de­signed in par­al­lel with the fast­back. That be­ing the case, Porsche missed a golden op­por­tu­nity to shoe­horn a proper three-seater rear cabin into the flag­ship and broaden its ap­peal even more. Based on the stan­dard-wheel­base Panamera, the front half of the Sport Turismo from the nose to the B-pil­lars is the head and torso of the Panamera. You would be hard­pressed to tell the dif­fer­ence if view­ing both cars head-on.

But ev­ery­thing from the rear of the B-pil­lars has been grafted to form the new bodystyle. The back end now looks more Fer­rari GTC4Lusso than Porsche 911. It is as if the rear half of the Panamera had not been pre­washed, and shrunk when it went into a car wash. How­ever, there is no dif­fer­ence in body length com­pared with the Panamera.

For the first time, a Panamera can (the­o­ret­i­cally) sit three peo­ple in the back due to the higher roofline in the Sport Turismo. Two in­di­vid­ual bucket seats, as per the sa­loon, are an op­tion.

The ac­cess to the cargo hold is much larger due to the lower load­ing edge. To achieve this, the rear reg­is­tra­tion plate re­cess is now on the hatch door and disappears when the door lifts elec­tri­cally. In the Panamera, the reg­is­tra­tion plate re­sides on the bumper. The cargo space is 520 litres when the rear seats are re­quired. But if you need to put in your Pinarello Dogma F8 road bi­cy­cle, fold­ing all three 40:20:40 split rear seats frees up an ad­di­tional 890 litres of space for a total of 1390 litres.

Th­ese cargo ca­pac­i­ties are 20 litres and 50 litres re­spec­tively more than the Panamera sa­loon.

To ease the task of load­ing when both your hands are full of gro­cery bags from Jones The Gro­cer, the tail­gate can be opened (and closed) with a wave of your foot around the rear bumper, in­stead of your hand reach­ing for the trig­ger on the tail­gate or the key fob. This is, how­ever, a func­tion known as Com­fort Ac­cess which is only stan­dard on the Turbo model.

A dis­tinc­tive fea­ture on the roof edge is the high-gloss black rear spoiler. This is adap­tive – at speeds up to 170km/h, it is at an an­gle of mi­nus seven de­grees to re­duce drag and op­ti­mise fuel con­sump­tion. Above that stroll-in-the-park speed (for a Porsche), the spoiler au­to­mat­i­cally ad­justs to one de­gree so as to in­crease sta­bil­ity.

If the Sport Turismo is equipped with the op­tional panoramic roof sys­tem, the an­gle of the roof spoiler ad­justs to min­imise wind noise when the slid­ing sun­roof is open.

PORSCHE ANTICIPATES 20 PER­CENT OF NEW PANAMERA SALES TO BE THE SPORT TURISMO.

All the re-en­gi­neer­ing of the Panamera fast­back to pro­duce the Sport Turismo hatch­back has re­sulted in a scant 30kg ad­di­tional weight com­pared with the si­b­ling bodystyle.

It’s in­ter­est­ing that there is no dif­fer­ence in the cen­tury sprint tim­ings com­pared with the Panam­eras pow­ered by the same en­gines.

The front doors open to re­veal the same front cabin as the sa­loon. With vast swathes of high-qual­ity leather, shiny alu­minium ac­cents and pre­mi­um­grade syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als, the cabin en­tices you into a world of lux­u­ri­ous sporti­ness.

There is no tomb­stone-like dis­play panel at the cen­tre of the dash­board to spoil the lines. In­stead, the 12.3-inch lap­top­size touch­screen is in­te­grated with the cen­tral fas­cia.

The leather-and-alu­minium steer­ing wheel feels ex­quis­ite in your hands, with an ap­pendage at the five o’clock po­si­tion for easy switch­ing of driv­ing modes (Nor­mal, Sport, Sport Plus and In­di­vid­ual).

The multi-func­tion steer­ing and touch­screen sys­tem are part of the stan­dard Porsche Ad­vanced Cock­pit in the Sport Turismo, which in­cludes the lat­est-gen­er­a­tion Porsche Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Man­age­ment (PCM).

The Porsche Trac­tion Man­age­ment (PTM) is also stan­dard. This means you get all-wheel-drive, which may not ap­peal to purists since there is no op­tion for rear-wheel-drive.

Air sus­pen­sion is also stan­dard equip­ment in all the five

ver­sions of the Sport Turismo, save for the base Panamera 4 Sport Turismo which of­fers the fea­ture as a cost op­tion.

For now, the five en­gine op­tions are shared with the fast­back saloons – rang­ing from the base 3-litre V6 with 330bhp and 450Nm in the Panamera 4 Sport Turismo, to the 4-litre V8 with 550bhp and 770Nm in the top-of-the-line Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo.

Fol­low­ing the re­lease of the Panamera Turbo S E-Hy­brid, we should ex­pect a 680bhp/850Nm Sport Turismo Turbo S E-Hy­brid down the road.

I sam­ple the 4S Diesel Sport Turismo, 4 E-Hy­brid Sport Turismo and Turbo Sport Turismo in Vancouver Is­land.

The 4S Diesel pro­duces 422bhp and 850Nm, the high­est torque out­put of all the en­gine vari­ants (match­ing the Panamera Turbo S E-Hy­brid sa­loon, though the lat­ter wins hands down in power with 680bhp).

There is no prom­i­nent diesel clat­ter in the 4S Diesel from the out­side – just a hint if you strain your ears to hear it af­ter you have been told it is a diesel. On pa­per, the 0-100km/h sprint takes a re­spectable 4.3 sec­onds with the Sport Chrono Pack­age (and 4.5 sec­onds with­out), but on the road, it doesn’t feel it has a huge re­serve of over­tak­ing grunt, de­spite its lofty torque fig­ure. The manic Turbo Sport Turismo is a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal. Even pot­ter­ing about at 100km/h, you can feel from the ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal an ex­plo­sive re­serve of power ly­ing in wait – ready to breach any speed limit in a nanosec­ond. This is where the dif­fer­ence in horse­power ver­sus the 4S Diesel lies.

The eco-friendly E-Hy­brid makes a com­bined 462bhp from its V6 petrol burner and elec­tric mo­tor, along with sporty torque of 700Nm. This is enough to com­plete the 0-100km/h race in 4.6 sec­onds with the stan­dard Sport Chrono Pack­age.

The hy­brid sys­tem of­fers four modes of hy­brid en­ergy: E-Power for elec­tric driv­ing only, Hy­brid Auto to leave the dual power sources to their own de­vices, E-Hold to main­tain the bat­tery charge level and E-Charge to charge the bat­tery from the V6 en­gine while driv­ing.

In Hy­brid Auto mode, the toand-fro ba­ton pass­ing be­tween the V6 and the elec­tric mo­tor is as fluid and seam­less as the best 4x400m Olympic re­lay teams.

If the ve­hi­cle is spec­i­fied with the op­tional sport ex­haust sys­tem (like my E-Hy­brid test car), ac­ti­vat­ing the Sport Plus mode would make the tailpipes trum­pet a racy rasp and crackle when­ever you lift your right foot off the ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal at speed.

All Sport Turismo vari­ants rely on the 8-speed PDK – Porsche’s quick-shift­ing and

creamy-smooth dou­ble-clutch trans­mis­sion. Man­ual over­ride via the pad­dle shifters on the steer­ing wheel is al­ways there for the tak­ing.

The han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics of all three Sport Turis­mos tested are iden­ti­cal and no dif­fer­ent to the Panamera saloons’, which is a good thing.

As with all Porsche models, the steer­ing re­sponse is ex­tremely com­mu­nica­tive. Like a tat­tle­tale, there is con­stant feed­back to the driver as to what the front tyres are up to. The steer­ing is also per­fectly weighted – not too light and not too heavy, it is just right!

The ride is firm, which is how I like my car’s sus­pen­sion. Damp­ing is spot on – the three­cham­ber (per strut) air sus­pen­sion does not get con­fused when faced with sud­den pot­holes and less-sud­den un­du­la­tions. The damp­ing an­swers all road sur­face is­sues thrown at it.

Point the steer­ing wheel into an ap­proach­ing bend and be re­warded with a com­posed and bal­anced en­try all the way to the exit. Body roll is not in the vo­cab­u­lary of the lat­est Panam­eras, and they all think they are light sports cars as op­posed to heavy, sporty fast­backs/hatch­backs.

The chas­sis feels it can han­dle even more power than the 550bhp of the Turbo, and this is ev­i­dent by the re­lease of the 680bhp Panamera Turbo S E-Hy­brid.

Porsche anticipates 20 per­cent of new Panamera sales to be the Sport Turismo. Since it is a more func­tional bodystyle, it’ll be a shame if it doesn’t find more buy­ers. But then again, the jury is still out on the styling of the Sport Turismo.

Like a long-time wife, the Panamera hatch­back is pretty from cer­tain an­gles but plain from oth­ers. The Panamera fast­back, on the other hand, is like the hot new su­per­model wife – per­fect from ev­ery an­gle.

SEPTEM­BER 2017

Panamera hatch­back has the same body length as the fast­back, but a dif­fer­ent de­sign aft of the B-pil­lars.

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