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

911 Porsche World - - News And Views - Words: Nic Ma­her Pho­tog­ra­phy: Porsche AG

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...

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