Panam­era Sport Turismo

Sleek es­tate looks good and adds ex­tra prac­ti­cal­ity, but is it as con­vinc­ing on the road?

Auto Express - - Contents - Paul Bai­ley

We put hy­brid es­tate ver­sion of Porsche through its paces

PORSCHE has his­tory with es­tate cars. The iconic Audi RS2 was partly a Porsche col­lab­o­ra­tion, and was even built at the Ger­man sports car maker’s plant in Zuf­fen­hausen. The RS2 ar­guably kick-started the trend for su­per-wag­ons back in the mid-nineties. That res­onates to this day, but it’s taken a while for the com­pany to pro­duce its very own.

First hinted at five years ago as a con­cept, the Panam­era Sport Turismo has fi­nally rolled on to the road. The pro­duc­tion car has changed very lit­tle from that early de­sign con­cept; the longer roof suits the pro­por­tions of the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Panam­era, the big­ger hatch adding some use­ful­ness.

Vis­ually it’s trans­for­ma­tional, then, but if you’re look­ing for a more prac­ti­cal Panam­era then you might be a lit­tle bit dis­ap­pointed. Most Panam­era Sport Turis­mos of­fer 520 litres of space with the seats up, and 1,390 litres with them down, but Mercedes-benz’s CLS Shoot­ing Brake bet­ters that with 590/1,590 litres. Choose this fuel-sip­ping Panam­era 4 E-hy­brid and that shrinks a bit, to 425 litres and 1,295 litres re­spec­tively, thanks to an elec­tric/petrol drivetrain that de­mands a lit­tle more room for pack­ag­ing.

Twenty litres is the gain over the nor­mal Panam­era, which isn’t much, but then the ac­cess is eas­ier, and those rear seats fold in a 40/20/40 for­ma­tion. Push a but­ton in the rear to un­lock them and fold the seat­backs for­ward; the re­sult­ing floor is al­most flat. Porsche even of­fers a load-re­ten­tion kit if you’re se­ri­ous about car­ry­ing stuff.

More im­por­tantly, per­haps, there are now three rear seats over the usual two. How­ever, even Porsche some­what apolo­get­i­cally refers to its new lay­out as a 4+1. That’s hardly sur­pris­ing, ei­ther, be­cause you’d never de­scribe the raised cen­tre cush­ion as a proper seat, or even as a use­ful oc­ca­sional one.

The roofline does give a bit more rear head­room, but oth­er­wise it’s all fa­mil­iar Panam­era, with a fine driv­ing en­vi­ron­ment, neat fin­ishes and easy op­er­a­tion of the in­fo­tain­ment func­tions and driv­ing modes.

The 4 E-hy­brid adds some com­plex­ity to the driv­ing mix with its var­i­ous hy­brid spe­cific modes. Th­ese are nu­mer­ous enough to ne­ces­si­tate more than sim­ple se­lec­tion via the wheel-mounted Mode Switch that’s stan­dard here. El­e­ments such as E-hold and E-charge will also re­quire a de­gree of in­ter­ac­tion with the touch­screen that dom­i­nates the cen­tre of the dash­board.

In de­fault Auto-hy­brid mode, the pow­er­train will push the Sport Turismo along in elec­tric power as of­ten as pos­si­ble, us­ing the 136bhp elec­tric mo­tor to max­imise econ­omy. It’s smooth, quiet and quick, too, and able to run the car up to and be­yond UK mo­tor­way speeds.

Do so and you’ll do well to get near the 15-31-mile elec­tric range Porsche quotes, let alone the 113mpg over­all econ­omy fig­ure. Still, if you have a short, ur­ban com­mute and like the idea of the 4 E-hy­brid’s du­al­ity, then there’s a place for it.

When the 2.9-litre biturbo V6 does fire up to join in, it’s more seam­less than it was on our first ac­quain­tance with the pow­er­train in the reg­u­lar Panam­era. To­gether, the two de­velop 462bhp, which is enough to haul the 4 E-hy­brid to 62mph in just 4.6 sec­onds. The hy­brid’s sys­tems

now seem to be bet­ter in­te­grated, while the brake and ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal feel far more con­ven­tional in their op­er­a­tion than early hy­brid Panam­eras.

There’s still a great deal of weight to man­age with this par­tic­u­lar pow­er­train. The Sport Turismo rear it­self adds only 20kg over its re­la­tion, but the pow­er­train of the 4 E-hy­brid’s weight un­ques­tion­ably takes the edge off its agility. It doesn’t feel as nim­ble in bends and there’s more un­der­steer, while the steer­ing lacks the im­me­di­acy of other Panam­eras’. The ride is com­fort­able, though, and the stan­dard air-sus­pen­sion is smooth and cos­set­ing, even on op­tional 21-inch wheels.

It isn’t, then, a Panam­era brim­ming with driver ap­peal – more a tax dodge, or, in­creas­ingly, a diesel al­ter­na­tive.

A Sport Turismo adds £3,728 to the price of a reg­u­lar Panam­era, £1,581 of which is down to the ne­ces­sity on ear­ly­order cars to have the panoramic glass sun­roof. Open that and the Porsche Ac­tive Aero­dy­nam­ics (PAA) will ad­just the rear rooftop wing to help qui­eten the wind noise.

“In Auto-hy­brid mode the 136bhp elec­tric mo­tor max­imises econ­omy. It’s smooth, quiet and quick”

Pow­er­train takes up space, so 4 E-hy­brid has less boot space than other Sport Turis­mos

NEED TO KNOW Hid­den rear wing helps to gen­er­ate up to 50kg of down­force when it’s de­ployed

PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY The Sport Turismo has space for three in the rear, but the mid­dle seat is al­most un­us­able, mainly due to the huge tun­nel that sits where your feet would

EQUIP­MENT Two dig­i­tal read­outs ei­ther side of a cen­tral rev counter are con­fig­urable and can dis­play bat­tery range or nav­i­ga­tion. Cli­mate con­trol and leather are stan­dard

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