Practicality be dammed, the Panamera Sport Turismo is a different take on an estate. We take a first drive in the 4 E-hyrbid variant
Twenty litres. That’s the sum total of the additional boot space that the Panamera Sport Turismo brings. Since when has boot capacity been a thing with Porsches? When the company decided to build an estate car, or at least its interpretation of one. Forget ultimate carrying capacity here, the Sport Turismo is more shooting brake than estate car proper, that new rear as much about style as it is anything else.
Ever since the Panamera Sport Turismo was previewed at the Paris motor show it’s been a case of when rather than if it’s coming. It’s been a lengthy five years, but the execution from that Parisian concept to production car has been largely faithful. The showcar did, after all, debut the style that would define the second generation Panamera. The current Panamera is now far more comfortable in its skin, attractive even, and, depending on your viewpoint of course, the Sport Turismo’s longer roof only accentuates the Panamera’s new-found desirability and style.
There are some provisos, the car here wears the additional Sportdesign package painted in body colour. It does little for the lines, making for a less sharply defined rear and deeper flanks. The Sport Turismo arguably works best when those elements are in the standard, contrasting form. Leave that particular option un-ticked, then.
While on the check-box ticking for options, you’ll want at least the 20-inch alloy option, or, the 21-inch here, to properly fill the wheel arches, the Panamera, any Panamera, looking underwheeled on the standard 19-inch wheels.
There are a few concessions to the Sport Turismo’s role as a more practical luxury car. Porsche describes it as a 4+1, adding a third pew in the rear. That +1 space is tiny, it basically a seatbelt provided over the hump in the rear separating the two rear seats proper. It’d be a cruel parent who bought a Panamera Sport Turismo with the hope of genuinely carrying three in the back regularly, the +1 very much an occasional jump seat option.
With two in the back the Sport Turismo’s additional 5mm in height isn’t too apparent, though the longer rooflines does add space. The differing D-pillar profile also makes getting in and out of those rear seats easier. That ease is what defines the Sport Turismo’s rear over its sports saloon relation, the access to the, ahem, larger boot eased by the more steeply raked rear tailgate that opens lower under the rear numberplate. Those rear seats fold in a 40/20/40 split fold arrangement, unlocking with a push button in the boot. Porsche also offers the option of a load-retaining system complete with tie-downs and luggage nets.
Like the Paris concept our first acquaintance with the Sport Turismo is the hybrid. Not, sadly, the Turbo SE Hybrid flagship, it, like the base Panamera not currently offered in Sport Turismo guise, but the Panamera 4 E-hybrid. Previous experience with this drivetrain hasn’t exactly filled us with enthusiasm. In Sport Turismo guise it loses out on bootspace, too, the maximums lower thanks to the additional space required to house all the hybrid technology. Dropping from 520 litres and 1390 litres to 425 litres and 1295 litres. Throwing the additional cables for charging its battery into the boot doesn’t help, either.
What is clear is that since the Panamera’s original launch Porsche has been finessing the 4 E-hybrid’s drivetrain. The sometimes unnerving, unnatural feel to the controls has been largely vanquished. The accelerator no longer feels like it’s fighting your foot, which
Execution from Paris concept to production has been largely faithful
is to the enormous benefit of driveability. That’s true of the brake pedal, too. The initial unsettling slow response as the braking system managed retardation and recuperation isn’t so obvious. No, it’s still not as natural-feeling in both areas as its conventionally-powered Panamera relations, but it’s much less obviously hybrid via those controls, which is notable compared to our first encounter with the 4 E-hybrid drivetrain.
The various hybrid choices remain the same, plentiful enough to require more than merely the four choices on the standard Mode Switch dial on the steering wheel. Navigate the sub menus on in the touchscreen Porsche Communication Management module in the centre console and there’s the opportunity to hold charge (E-hold) or generate charge (E-charge) in addition to those Mode Switch enabled Auto Hybrid, E-power, Sport and Sport Plus choices.
With Sport Chrono as standard, there’s launch control, allowing the Panamera 4 EHybrid Sport Turismo a 0–62mph time of 4.6 seconds, and a top speed of 170mph. Quick then. Like that 0–62mph time the fuel economy and CO2 figures are identical, too, at 113mpg and 56g/km – try getting anywhere near that consumption figure, though.
Defaulting to E-power whenever possible, electric only propulsion via the 136hp motor is serene. Brisk, too, and possible up to and beyond UK speed limits. Do that and the 15–31 miles electric only range will plummet, though, it working at its best around town.
Escape the city’s confines and the 4 EHybrid Sport Turismo demonstrates all that makes the Panamera a great executive choice. Crushing cruising pace, huge stability – that assisted by the pop-out rear roof-mounted spoiler – and Porsche’s latest suite of driver aids. It’s all very accomplished, the Sport Turismo feeling no different here to its saloon relation.
On tighter, more demanding roads the 4 E-hybrid’s additional bulk is more evident. It rides adeptly on PASM with three-chamber air suspension, and optionally here with rear-wheel steering, but pitch it into a bend and the chassis’ ability to deal with the greater mass becomes less convincing. There’s a tendency to push on earlier in a bend, the 4 E-hybrid lacking the agility of its conventionally powered relations. That’s something specific to the drivetrain and not the body, the Sport Turismo itself not making any difference to the drive.
What is clear is the hybrid’s improved integration, the different motors, with their combined system output of 462hp feel like they’re working in unison, that not always feeling the case on our first meeting with it. Not the powertrain we’d pick, admittedly, but there’s no denying its increasing polish does bode well as the technology matures. So our Panamera would be conventionally powered for now and we’d have the Sport Turismo over the standard car, too. Not for the limited measured gains in practicality it brings, these so marginal to make them all but inconsequential, but simply because it looks sensational. PW
Panamera Sport Turismo benefits from the Panamera’s gen 2 styling tweaks. Credit, where credit is due, there’s still nothing quite like it on the road, whether in standard or Sport Turismo form
Rear end is where it’s all happening with the Sport Turismo, but estate styling and practicality adds just an extra 20-litres of space. But that’s not what it’s about. The GT is an exercise in style over substance and very stylish it is too
Mission control! Largely digital dash puts rev-counter centre stage as per Porsche tradition. Massive screen for infotainment system is a ‘must have’, while centre console has been de-cluttered of switchgear compared to previous Panamera, although most appear to have ended up on steering wheel. Right: Combined power of supercharged 2.9litre V6, plus electric assistance is 456bhp