Johannesburg - Porsche's Panamera, having just morphed from an ugly ducking into a swan in its second generation, is now welcoming an equally tantalising two-box sibling into the family.
It's called Panamera Sport Turismo, but call it what you will - sportback, estate or shooting brake - it’s proof, once again, that the most important element in car design is the roof-line, and this time Porsche has nailed it.
The front end of the Turismo is straight second-generation Panamera sedan, but from the B pillar back it’s all about that sweeping roof and the dramatic spoiler that finishes it, neatly supported by an extended waistline and glazed area that provide a perfect base for an elegant D pillar (the design has no C pillar, which is part of the secret).
But there’s more to it than that; Porsche has used the opportunity to create an extendable roof spoiler with three angles of deployment, that can generate up to 50kg of downforce. Up to 170km/h, the spoiler stays in its docking bay at an angle of minus seven degrees to reduce drag; above that speed, it extends automatically and rotates to plus one degree, improving stability and lateral dynamics.
If you’ve selected Sport or Sport Plus driving mode, however, all this happens at 90 km/h - and if you’ve got the the panoramic glass roof open, the spoiler automatically adjusts to plus 26 degrees at 90km/h no matter what drive mode you’re in, to cut down wind noise.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the new shape, however, is how little its dimensions differ from those of the ugly-ass conventional three-box sedan: luggage capacity with the rear seat backs in place has increased by only 20 litres, from 500 to 520 litres.
But there’s a wide new power-operated tailgate, its lower sill only 628mm off the deck, and the 40:20:40 split back of the three-seat rear bench (a first for the Panamera; you can still ask for two individual chairs as in the sedan) can fold flat completely flat, individually or together, to create a flat-floored 1390 litre cargo bay, up 50 litres from the sedan.
You can also get an optional tie-down system that includes two built-in rails in the floor, four lashing points and a luggage compartment partition net - very advisable if you intended driving this Porsche as its maker intended.
That’s because it comes in a choice of three variants - the 243kW Panamera 4 Sport Turismo, the 324kW 4S Sport Turismo and the 404kW Turbo Sport Turismo - each with all the high-tech running gear of the second-generation sedan it’s based on. That includes digital instrumentation, dynamic chassis control, rear-wheel steering and and active all-wheel drive with an electronically controlled multi-plate centre clutch. Adaptive air suspension is an option on the base model and standard on the other two.
The Panamera Sport Turismo can be ordered now for delivery in South Africa early in 2018.
Prices, including three-year Drive Plan
Panamera 4 Sport Turismo - R1 431 000
Panamera 4S Spot Turismo - R1 667 000
Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo - R2 522 000