First Drive: 2017 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

First Drive: 2017 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

Is it an estate? Is it a station wagon? Is it a Sportback? The truth is that the new Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo is all of these things, but most importantly it is a better-looking Panamera.

Honestly, it is probably more Sportback than estate though. The reason for this is simply because while the car is completely different to the regular sedan from the B-pillar back, the ambition of creating an estate version only translates into an additional 50l of boot space. And that is the increase when the back seats are folded down. With the seats up, there is only an additional 20l. It hardly seems worth the effort does it?

Except the effort is well worth it because the Sport Turismo comes across as an even better package than the sedan (which in itself is more of a fastback than a sedan). In terms of looks it is all about the rear. It has less of an arsethan the regular models and instead has a design that is elegant and sporty. The original Panamera elicited criticism of its looks, but the Sport Turismo generates no such criticism. It works and it works well.

So it should really because we have been waiting around half a decade for the car. It was first shown at the Paris Motor Show in 2012 and will reach our shores in the last quarter of 2017. That’s a long period of development for 50l. But it’s not just about that additional space. There is more to the Sport Turismo that also involves the number 50, because that new active rear spoiler generates up to 50kg of downforce.

It is the first adaptive rear spoiler in the segment, assuming the segment is estate cars that is. It is part of the Porsche Active Aerodynamics package and automatically adjusts to three different positions. Up to 170km/h it sits at minus 7° to reduce drag and optimise fuel consumption. Actually no other info is necessary because no one travels at these sort of speeds away from Germany’s autobahn, but because you are curious we’ll tell you.

Over 170km/h the spoiler sits in what Porsche calls the “performance” position at just 1° of elevation to increase stability. It will also do so if you switch to Sport or Sport Plus driving modes at 90km/h and above. The final setting is for when the panoramic roof is open to reduce wind noise in the cabin by raising the spoiler 26°.

Of course there is also a button to put the spoiler up for all those idiots who have no concept of the engineering and science that goes into it and misguidedly think they look cool.

Another element that is unique to the Sport Turismo is the inclusion of an additional seat in the rear making it a 4+1.

There are two individual seats in the rear, but for that one moment when you need to transport four friends, there is an additional middle seatbelt and a bit of padding for their backside. They will only want to be there for a moment though before it becomes uncomfortable. There is the option of a four-seat configuration too.

Another major difference to the regular models is a lower loading lip, which should make it far easier to load your luggage into that marginally bigger boot.

So what exactly is the point of the Sport Turismo? Well the point is simple — it’s a better all-round car. Because it is not quite a station wagon, those of you who go “yuck” at the very thought of a station wagon and run over to the Cayenne might actually like it. The package looks more complete with a better rear end, although of course the rear of the latest generation Panamera is far better than the first generation.

At the moment only the Turbo model is heading to SA later in 2017 and we got to drive it while in Canada recently. It is a superb package, with sports car handling, even on roads where you use the panoramic roof to look up and see if you are being radar tracked by Canadian speed cops (they aren’t all on horseback you know).

The all-wheel drive and rear-wheel steering, combined with the various Porsche electronics all create a car that now only has an additional 50l of luggage space, but can carry that additional luggage as though you are in a true sports car.

Our route included a long, narrow road through Canadian forests where there was the threat of meeting a logging truck at every turn. And Canadian logging trucks are not like our ones that crawl along slowly, they fly along. The Panamera came into its own on the road, providing exemplary grip in the corners and brakes that almost made us feel as though we were in the precision instrument that is the 911 whenever the nose of a logging truck came into view.

Looking into our crystal ball it is likely that the Sport Turismo is not going to suddenly become the biggest seller in the Panamera range. That’s a pity, because while we might snigger slightly at the effort to get an additional 50l of luggage space into the car, that increase is the headline part of so much more. It cannot be defined as a grand tourer (GT) but by combining its practicality with superb sports car ability, it is about as grand a tourer as you can get. – Mark Smyth