Pictures: Porsche.
Pictures: Porsche.
Call it what you will. Station wagon, estate, shooting brake, or, in Porsche-speak Sport Turismo. This roomier, and if you ask us, much more attractive new Panamera body style was launched internationally in Canada this week, and when it’s introduced to our market in September, will supplement the existing sedan range.

Porsche will tell you its new wagon, sorry, Sport Turismo has been developed to offer customers some added practical benefits, and indeed it does. The boot’s bigger, the back door apertures are (ever so slightly) taller for easier boarding and disembarking, and it’s the first Panamera since 2009 with seats for five.

Just don’t go expecting this big-rumped version to cure all your luggage and passenger carrying woes, because if you dig deep into its spec sheets you’ll find the inflated dimensions don’t add up to much extra space at all. With the back seats in place there’s another 20 litres of cargo hauling ability and 50 litres more (1390 litres) when they’re folded flat.

The Sport Turismo gets an optional 4+1 seating layout, meaning there’s a third three-point seatbelt in the middle of the rear bench, but this is best considered an emergency jump seat for carting an extra kiddie home from soccer practice. 

Sit here and your legs will have to straddle the centre tunnel, and worse, the rear climate control vents blow directly at your nether regions. I’d advise sticking to the standard-fit 2+2 layout with individual buckets (below), unless spare kiddie haulage is a must.

The cargo bay may be not that much bigger, but it is a more usable shape. The hatch opens wider so awkward objects like bicycles or dog crates will slip inside with less fuss.

It’s also easier to lift heavier items into the bay because the load sill, at 63cm high, is much lower than the sedan’s.

Atop the tailgate is a three-stage mechanical spoiler (the first of its kind on a wagon, says Porsche) that generates up to 50kg of downforce at speeds over 170km/h .

It also raises to a specific hight when the sunroof is open to prevent wind buffeting in the cabin.

The boot can be specced with a load management system (also optional) which includes four lashing points, and two embedded rails in the floor for an adjustable partition divider.

There’s yet another option for a 230 volt household-style plug point, but three elastic cargo nets and a retractable luggage cover are included for free.

From the B-pillars forward the Sport Turismo is identical to the Panamera sedan. You get the same slick dashboard layout with a 31.2cm touchscreen display, and a broad, gloss black centre console with touch sensitive, haptic-clicking buttons. The instrument binnacle is carried over, and includes partial digital layouts on either side of the oversized central rev-counter for interchangeable infotainment and navigation displays. The gimmicky centre vents that move around electronically with a finger on the touchscreen are also included.

Tech is laid on thick, and besides the usual adaptive cruise control, lane keeping aids, bird’s eye view parking monitors and various connected services, buyers can go wild with add-on items like 20-speaker Burmester sound systems, night vision, electric tailgates, panoramic sunroofs and Matrix LED headlights. A rear seat entertainment package includes two separate 25.4cm seat-mounted tablet devices, each with their own integrated camera for video calls and 32 gigs worth of storage space for music.

Interestingly, the front display is compatible with Apple CarPlay, while the backs use Android operating systems exclusively.

The Sport Turismo was launched with five engine options, but we’ll only get three of those, with the diesel and hybrid versions off the list for South Africa. That leaves us with three purely petrol options starting with a base Panamera 4, a mid-level 4S and a range-topping Turbo.

The 4 uses a 243kW/450Nm 3-litre turbo V6, and gets a claimed 0-100km/h time of 5.3 seconds with a top speed of 259km/h . The 4S actually employs a smaller capacity V6 (2894cc versus 2995) but twin-turbocharging bumps power up to 324kW/550Nm resulting in 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds with a top speed of 286. The flagship turbo is fitted with a 404kW/770Nm biturbo V8, and figures here are 3.6 seconds and 304km/h.

All versions use eight-speed auto gearboxes driving all four wheels, and all get air adjustable air suspension and four-wheel steering as standard equipment. Wheel size is 19-inches for V6 models, and 20s come on the Turbo, but either can get massive 21-inchers optionally.

On average the Sport Turismo costs around R100 000 more than equivalent sedan models, and that’s probably a strategic move to keep interest in the regular four-door variant alive. See, Porsche will tell you the new wagon offers greater practicality, but we know it was made because it’s just plain gorgeous.

PRICES:

Panamera 4 Sport TurismoR1 431 000
Panamera 4S Sport TurismoR1 667 000
Panamera Turbo Sport TurismoR2 522 000

* Claimed performance figures mentioned above are when fitted with optional Sport Chrono packages. Without Sport Chrono times are slightly slower.

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