Test Drives

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo 2017 Review

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Porsche’s Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo is a wild and wonderful wagon

Victoria, British Columbia

Fast-wagons are very much a lifestyle choice, especially the ones that feature a gorgeous Shooting Brake silhouette. People often use the term ‘Shooting Brake’ interchangeably with estate and stationwagon, but we reckon ‘Shooting Brake’ is more a subset of wagons, because it incorporates a Coupe’s effortless style with some of the ‘utility’ of a wagon, as opposed to say, a strict stationwagon derivative of a regular sedan such as those offered by Volvo or Audi, not that those are Quasimodos to begin with of course.

Crossovers may be winning over the human race, but Shooting Brakes, and wagons for that matter, still enjoy a cult following. The choice of such cars is like a curl of derision at fair-weathered types who worship image and status, simply because they need the affirmation that comes with the ownership of something with the appropriate lifestyle cachet.

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The anti-fashion irony lies in the fact that owners of Shooting Brake type cars don’t really need the load-lugging space, which is also just as well because unlike proper wagons, Shooting Brakes are more an exercise in style that offers only marginally more space at best over their sedan counterparts, although in the case of the Ferrari FF/GTC4Lusso, it’s the most practical Ferrari you can buy right now.

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The second-generation Panamera fastback ‘sedan’ offers a far less divisive reaction than its predecessor, and this iteration boasts even more of the 911 in its styling – especially around its hind-quarters – which its fans adore. However, at the showing of the Panamera Shooting Brake concept in 2012 (which looks a lot like the production model we have today), the Sport Turismo attracted all the right oohs, aahs and “take-my-money!” comments, because the idea of a fast wagon-esque body must have appealed to the Porsche crowd over the regular Panamera.

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Even then, Porsche understands that such a genre will only ever appeal to a niche audience, with the brand expecting the Sport Turismo to make up approximately 20 per cent of global sales volume. Furthermore, if you’re really on the hunt for space and utility, there’re always the Macan and Cayenne to look at. During our time with the Turbo Sport Turismo, no one we passed from our hotel in Malahat to the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit in Cowichan paid us much attention, save for a first generation Panamera driver, and the band of picketers that had assembled outside the Circuit. However, as we already established, the folks buying these cars aren’t doing so for the benefit of other people, but personal satisfaction, and the Q-car credentials of the Turbo are certainly beyond reproach.

Everything from the B-pillar backwards is its own, while the front of the Sport Turismo shares its face with the Panamera. Rearwards, the Sport Turismo has bootylicious, curvaceous hips and a pert derrière that characterises unapologetic full-bodied women, as opposed to the waif model shapes that were so popular in 90s fashion spreads – this “baby’s got back” and she’s not afraid to flaunt it, especially when it’s so nicely toned and taut. A rear light-strip that runs across the width of its tail helps accentuate its bodacious proportions, and serves to draw your eyes to its peachy behind.

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The variants of the Sport Turismo follow the Panamera 4 line-up, although the Sport Turismo range-topper (for now) is the Turbo, versus the top-tier Turbo S e-Hybrid of its fastback ‘sedan’ counterpart. Folks lamenting the limited 2+2 seating of the Panamera should be interested to learn that the Sport Turismo isn’t just a pretty face (or hardbody), because it offers 4+1 seating.

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When you take a peek at the rear layout, it quickly becomes apparent why it’s +1 – fully packed, it can get snug, which is fine for close friends and family, but less so if it’s casual business acquaintances. The rear middle-seat isn’t as awkward as you’d imagine, and will easily accommodate folks of up to 1.75m reasonably comfortably, because don’t forget it’s not just leg- and seat-room you need to consider, but also shoulder space. Compared to the Panamera, the Sport Turismo’s raised roofline not just makes it a cinch to get in and out of the back, it also provides more head clearance once seated.

However, the Sport Turismo can also be optioned with the Panamera’s 2+2 seating configuration, and while there’s no announcement yet regarding a 4+1 for the Panamera, Porsche tells us there’s no technical reason why that wouldn’t be possible, which sounds like it could be ‘when’ and not ‘if’ it does it…

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Compared to the Panamera, the Sport Turismo frees up just 20-litres more under the hatch carrying five occupants, but boasts a wide 92cm aperture and low 63cm rear sill edge for easier loading ability (the regular Panamera’s loading edge is 77cm from the ground) – it’s literally possible to chuck stuff directly into the tail without struggling to lift and heave.

Like the Panamera, the Sport Turismo features the Porsche Advanced Cockpit with a digital rendition of nostalgic analogue dials under the instrument cluster, as well as a 12.3-inch central touchscreen for the Porsche Communication Management.

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Like the Panamera, the PCM also includes a digital slider to adjust the centre aircon-vents (as well as the other climate control functions) – we think physical controls would have made things much easier, and thankfully, temperature/fan controls are still physical switchgear.

Elsewhere, there are precious few physical knobs or buttons, as Porsche has elected to take a path that is minimalist and presumably, ‘sophisticated’. Instead, there’s a posh, high-gloss glass-look control panel laid over a touch-sensitive rocker pad with markings to denote the various functions – a nice change from the overly complicated switchgear system in some cars.

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Engine duties are served by the same biturbo 4.0-litre V8 that powers the Panamera Turbo, which delivers a rousing performance for those who need one car to be everything. Modern turbos have so little lag these days as to deliver near-immediate oomph, and in the case of the Turbo model, 770Nm is on tap from below 2000rpm, which translates to a seamless pull as you work your way up the rev range. Unlike yesteryear’s turbos that give nothing at first and then sucker punch you past 4k rpm with a huge rush, the Turbo ST puts on speed with deceptive ease, so unless you’re on a derestricted stretch of the autobahn, you need to keep an eye on the speedo to be sure you aren’t running afoul of the road limits.

Remember how we said at the start that the Shooting Brake design is primarily about the style and off-beaten-path appeal? Well, in Turbo guise, it’s capable of an indecent turn of pace, and not just in terms of straight-line acceleration either, although its 3.6secs blitz from standstill to 100km/h is nothing to sniff at. The PDK not only offers blinding-quick shifts when you’re pushing hard, but is able to cruise comfortably and economically when you’re taking it easy on the highways.

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Like the Panamera (and 991.2), the control knob to toggle between the Sport Chrono drive modes and engage the Sport Response system is now conveniently positioned on the steering wheel, so it’s easier to access without removing one’s hands from the helm. The Sport Turismo also features a discreet adaptive roof spoiler than the Panamera’s ‘Transformer’ style rear wing, which can either enhance fuel economy at speeds of up to 170km/h by reducing air-drag, or increase rear-axle downforce of up to 50kg to improve stability.

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Like the current Panamera, the Turbo Sport Turismo boasts an agile chassis, especially with the optional rear-axle steer system that our car had. Although the technology has been around for awhile, it is only in recent times that the European car manufacturers have started incorporating it into their sportscars. Basically, it creates a ‘virtual’ short wheelbase effect, which helps make longer cars like the Panamera/Sport Turismo feel more agile, especially in the curvy mountain roads, so it’s possible to tackle these with plenty of enthusiasm, even if your passengers won’t be thanking you.

Ultimately, the Sport Turismo gives a semi-utility, fully-fashionable body-style to owners who aren’t quite ready to make that leap onto the SUV bandwagon for the full Cayenne utility experience.

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Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo
Engine 3,996cc, 32V, V8 biturbo
Power 550hp at 5750-6000rpm
Torque 770Nm at 1960-4500rpm
Gearbox 8-speed dual-clutch
Top Speed 304km/h
0-100km/h 3.6 seconds (Sport Plus)
Fuel efficiency 9.5-9.4L/100km
CO2 217-215g/km
Price S$728,288 w/o COE & options
Availability Now

about the author

David Khoo