Test Drive: Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo

Courtesy Porsche

The four-door Porsche is using style and speed to make wagons cool again.

I’m driving the 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo on curvy, remote logging roads on Vancouver Island on the Pacific Ocean side of Canada. It’s Porsche’s first four-door Panamera wagon, but such is the stigma surrounding wagons: No one wants to call it that. It’s time to get over it. If your grandfather’s wagon accelerated and handled like the Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo, they would never have gone out of style.

With a wagon, the first thought that comes to my mind is a spacious cargo area. The wagon has a long silhouette, but I still wonder if interior space had been sacrificed for good looks. In fact, the design of the car cleverly camouflages just how much cargo room is available—18.3 cubic feet, even with the rear bench seats in place—while still affording generous headroom and legroom for backseat passengers. Fold down the rear seats and storage capacity expands to 49 cubic feet.


Courtesy Porsche

But however large its storage capacity, I still want this car to drive like a Porsche and it doesn’t disappoint. A key ingredient in making this all-wheel-drive wagon into one with sports car performance also is at the rear. When in the “Sport” or “Sport Plus” driving modes, the rear roof spoiler automatically slides into a performance position at speeds over 56 mph to increase stability and lateral dynamics. And if the sliding panoramic roof is open, the rear spoiler angles itself to reduce wind noise.

There are five powertrain variants available, but the one I’m driving has a biturbo V8 engine with 550 horsepower managed by an eight-speed transmission and is the most powerful in the line-up. Zero to 60 mph is 3.6 seconds and the top speed of 188 mph more than doubles down on speed limits but makes passing a long logging truck on a two-lane road ridiculously quick. When all that power isn’t needed, however, the engine automatically operates in a four-cylinder mode, consuming 30 percent less fuel. The hand-off is so imperceptible I never notice it.

Such speed requires exceptional handling, and the Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo is all about that thanks to an electronic brain that continually monitors road conditions and makes performance adjustments as required, selectively applying brakes to each wheel to make steering more agile. Other key features include rear-axle steering, which makes the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction to the front wheels, allowing the wagon to maneuver like a much smaller car in tight spaces. An air suspension system adjusts the height of the car, lowering it at speed for better aerodynamics while raising it to enter an underground car park, for example.

Communication with the car is done via a 12.3-inch touchscreen display that operates much like a smartphone with swiping screens. The display also recognizes handwriting, so I can simply write my destination on the screen and the navigation system will engage. I’m not tempted to use it, however. I’m very comfortably seated and all I want to do is drive. The destination doesn’t matter.

$191,470 as driven; porsche.com.