PRACTICALITY ADDED, PERSONALITY BOOSTED
Porsche’s fastback flagship is more practical and more personable in Sport Turismo format.
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.
Panamera hatchback has the same body length as the fastback, but a different design aft of the B-pillars.