Ashooting brake, station wagon, estate or hatchback — call it what you will, but the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo takes all the hallmarks that have made the second- generation Panamera such an endearing and more agreeable design than its predecessor and added a touch of panache.
In essence, the model is identical to its Panamera executive from the front right up to the B-pillars, at which point the Sport Turismo takes on a design flair of its own.
Based on the 2012 concept of its namesake that was shown at that year’s Geneva motor show, it seems as though the company took its sweet time to bring the model into production, but now that the transition has been made, the model is a welcome addition to the Panamera range in a number of ways.
While it shares similar wheelbase, length and overhangs, the model has 50l extra space compared with the executive variant and there’s an additional middle seat — thanks to a higher roofline — which is really a reserve for small children. Nonetheless, the Sport Turismo is more practical than its sibling. The cabin remains plush, simple and well laid out with tactility to appease even the most discerning of buyers.
To ascertain the model’s virtues, we were handed the keys to a Turbo variant, replete with a 4.0l twin-turbo V8 in its snout, a slick shifting eight-speed PDK gearbox and the surefooted traction of its four-wheel drive system. It is the flagship model of the range until the Turbo SE hybrid arrives later in 2018. It has 404kW and 770Nm, enough to hurl this more than two-tonne German from rest to 100km/h in 3.6-seconds and on to a top speed of 305km/h.
While I never tested the latter, I have little doubt it can achieve this in a controlled environment, but the acceleration figure is the one that will frazzle your brain.
While outright performance is its forte, I was keen to see how it fares as a long-distance cruiser, so we nosed it towards Mpumalanga, 450km from Johannesburg, to our destination just outside of Malalane.
It proved comfortable in its disposition and refined to the point of the engine emitting only a distant murmur when you put your foot down. Thanks to the air suspension, it glides over the asphalt with a polish that saw the return trip done without any breaks — such is the sumptuous comfort on offer.
On arrival in Mpumalanga, the average fuel consumption was an impressive 10.6l/100km. I have driven vehicles much lighter and considerably less powerful than this one, yielding higher consumption figures.
The next day I decided to take a drive to Graskop, 70km away via Sabie and White River. While some sections are littered with potholes. these remain some of the best driving roads in the country — long, quiet and sweeping for the most part, perfect for testing a vehicle’s dynamic virtues.
I came across an armada of bikers along the picturesque Panorama route and the Sport Turismo was more than capable of keeping up with the two-wheel brigade.
For a spacious and comfortable car, it manages to convey a sporty demeanour usually found in the marque’s low-slung cars. So if you are in the market for a premium family car with a bit more prestige than that of other German executive sedans, then look no further.
The price tag of R2 572 000 might seem a lot to pay, but then you consider what you would pay for a Maserati Quattroporte GTS or a Ferrari GTC4 Lusso V8 and the Turbo Sport Turismo proves its mettle.
The conventional Panamera will continue to be the more popular body style in SA where wagons are frowned on, but the Sport Turismo unequivocally wins my vote. The fact it is the most practical Panamera model is icing on the cake. – Lerato Matebese