Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo (2017) review
If the regular Porsche Panamera is fractionally too small to fit in your life then stress no more. Half a decade on from the original Paris concept, Porsche has finally let us drive the production version of the Sport Turismo, to be sold alongside the regular hatch/fastback as a separate model
How does it measure up compared to the standard car?
There’s not as much in it as you might think. Length, width and wheelbase are all unchanged and it’s only 5mm taller than the standard car. But the rear haunches are more substantial and the roof itself is longer, which is the main factor in this car’s biggest change – the back seats.
Where the old car’s rear cabin was cosily equipped for two, the longer roof frees up headroom in the back seats and with new doors at the rear, getting in there in the first place is easier too. It’s still a little more effort than a similarly-sized saloon, but there are few saloons packing this kind of hardware either.
There’s a bit more light coming into the cabin and even the option to add a fifth person, although the 4+1 arrangement, as Porsche dubs it, should really be reserved for the masochistic. The seat itself is more of a leathered armrest and your legs still have to straddle that bulky transmission tunnel.
Is it any more practical than the regular Panamera?
Indeed it is, although Porsche hasn’t gone ‘full wagon’ on us. Boot volume is up by 25 litres with the seats in place and 86 litres with them folded (520 and 1390 litres respectively) although the hybrid version gives up 95 litres in the quest for e-mode driving. More noticeable is the wider tailgate and lower loading lip, accessed by a standard electric tailgate.
So hardly numbers that will rule in a Sport Turismo where a regular Pan was ruled out, but my TV frequently tells me every little helps.
Is it better looking, though?
You tell me. Most of the assembled journos thought the Sport Turismo more handsome than the standard car, but I thought the opposite; having finally nailed the looks of the Panamera in second generation guise they went and buggered about with it and created a car with a bigger behind.
Neither hatch nor estate, the Sport Turismo probably sits most happily in the Venn diagram marked ‘shooting brake’ but the Mercedes-Benz CLS does it better. But you’re the one spending at least £73,000 on one.
Has the driving experience been spoilt?
Not a bit of it. The bigger bodywork only adds around 40kg depending on the engine choice, and while Panameras can be particularly spec sensitive in terms of the driving experience you still get a machine that manages to blend comfort and ease of use with remarkably high levels of composure given its girth.
It can cruise and cover ground with total equanimity, soothing its occupants with impressive ride quality and low noise levels yet is still true to its genes should you take the less direct route home.
The turbocharged petrol V8 is a fantastic device but the all-round brilliance of the Diesel makes it impossible to ignore. With 627lb ft of torque available from 1000rpm it simply shrugs off any acceleration demands you make of it, with a surprisingly petrol-like V8 noise thrown into the mix. A top speed of 175mph, 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and a combined fuel figure of 42.2mpg are about as strong as sets of figures get, and that’s before you consider the £20,000 you save over the Turbo.
What else do I need to know?
The rest of the cabin is carried across from the regular Pan-Am, so you get the Porsche Virtual Cockpit. It takes a little while to get used to all the menus and screen layouts, but it works well and is blissful relief from the button-loaded blunderbuss approach of the old car. Thank heavens for the touchscreen.
With a boost to usability, and looks depending on your point of view, you could argue the Sport Turismo is actually a better car than the regular Panamera. If you really can’t buy anything other than a Stuttgart product the Sport Turismo gives you a better chance of keeping your family in one car all at the same time, and while it’s not 911-levels of fun it is impressively capable and sharp. It’s definitely the best not-estate money can buy.
By Matt Joy | CAR’s associate editor, fast writer, slow driver, occasional fibber