As these lines are being written, there are no less than 24 variations of the Porsche 911 available in Canada. And that’s before considering options, colours and customisation. What’s the point of having such a palette of trims and body styles of the 911? There’s bound to be one for just about anybody who can afford such a sports car, and some loyal customers of the brand might buy more than one.
The German automaker seems to be trying a similar strategy with the second-generation, 2018 Porsche Panamera. There currently are 16 variations of the sedan to choose from, ranging from the $97,300, six-cylinder, rear-drive base car to the $221,700, Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive eco-missile. Among them is the new Sport Turismo available in 4, 4S, E-Hybrid, Turbo and Turbo S E-Hybrid trims.
We could call it a hatchback, but the Panamera sedan already has a hatch, or a trunklid that opens up to the passenger compartment by incorporating the rear window. Is the Sport Turismo a wagon, then? That’s stretching it, because it’s not all that much roomier inside, and can’t match the versatility of a Porsche Cayenne SUV. Let’s just call it a styling exercise, one that suits the Panamera very well.
The sedan’s design is already much more harmonious than the previous generation’s, but the Sport Turismo adds a touch of extra sportiness that we find attractive. Sensual. Sexy. In all fairness, we automotive journalists have a thing for station wagons, so this car tickles our fancy.
We’ll bet that if a significant amount of Panamera buyers choose the Sport Turismo, the company will likely build a similar version of the upcoming, fully electric 2020 Porsche Taycan. The Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this year is obvious proof that it’s thinking about it.
There are five available powertrains in the Panamera, including two plug-in hybrid variants. Nestled between them in terms of output is the Turbo, which boasts a twin-turbocharged, 4.0-litre V8 that belts out 550 horsepower and 567 pound-feet of torque. Porsche says the Turbo Sport Turismo can blast from 0 to 100 km/h in a scant 3.8 seconds and can reach 304 km/h. Not bad.
Fuel economy is rated at 13.4 L/100 km around town and 10.1 on the open road, for a combined average of 11.9 L/100 km. We managed 12.5. If we don’t mind sacrificing 0.8 second on the 0-100 dash, the 462-hp E-Hybrid variant will be more efficient, less expensive and project the image of us as an environmentally responsible person. We could also spend more and go for the range-topping, 680-hp Turbo S E-Hybrid, which can hit 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds.
The first half of the 2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo is unchanged compared to the sedan. However, the roofline on the former stays flat just a little longer as it flows rearward, pushing the backlight closer to the Panamera’s butt cheeks and setting it at a slightly more vertical angle. It’s subtle to the untrained eye, and most of all, it’s a cost-effective way for Porsche to offer a second body style.
Cargo space is barely more generous than in the sedan, rising from 495 litres to 520. Even when lowering the split-folding seatbacks, we’re treated to 1390 litres of space compared to 1304 with the “regular” Panamera. The three-passenger bench seat is standard in the Sport Turismo, optional in the sedan which includes individual rear seats.
Porsche’s signature, cascading five-gauge instrument cluster is still on board in the 2018 Panamera, but only the middle gauge—the tachometer—is analog. The other four are created though the magic of digital screens, which are configurable to display other driving information or the navigation map. A nice touch.
The centre console now features touch-sensitive buttons with haptic feedback, which gives the interface a sophisticated look, but the glossy black surface will quickly get dusty and smudged with fingerprints. The rotary dial to control the infotainment system is small and awkwardly located ahead of the shift lever, as is the volume dial that’s even harder to reach. Many of the climate control system’s functions must be performed on-screen, like setting the airflow on the centre vents, for example. In general, the 2018 Porsche Panamera’s infotainement system is loaded with features, but it could be easier to use while driving.
On a more positive note, the seats in our Turbo Sport Turismo tester were fantastic, with multiple adjustments and excellent support during spirited driving. The massaging seats with various settings were also much appreciated, but they’re a $1,360 option above the $3,180 Premium Package Plus, despite the car’s staggering $175,600 base price.
And that’s the problem when buying a Porsche. Prices are unsurprisingly high, but they quickly shoot upwards when we start piling on options, some of which are features we’d expect to be standard. Want a 360-degree camera system? That’ll be $1,360. Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go assist and precollision warning? At least $3,290 extra. How about a USB port in the rear-seat area so the kids can charge their phones? That’s $470.
The list goes on and on, to the point where the as-tested price of the car we drove broke the $200K barrier once freight and delivery charges were added. If money’s not a problem, we can keep checking option boxes and summon a $300K car out of Porsche’s factory, its line workers giggling as they realize that the company won’t go bankrupt anytime soon.
The 2018 Porsche Panamera is a finely crafted automobile, no matter how much it costs. The Sport Turismo is just another way of obtaining a unique configuration of the car, and an expression of our taste for performance, luxury and design.