Porsche’s new Panamera Sport Turismo puts the S in the word 'sport'; even behaving like a hot-hatch, than a tourer, when you want it to
Photos by Azfar Hashim
Most nights, I can’t help but think to myself (usually that moment where you lie on your bed and look up the ceiling, waiting to fall asleep): If I can only have one car, what would I buy?
This never had a consistent answer. It had a list of cars that, for one moment, would be the Lexus LC 500. Then some days later, it would be the Mercedes-Benz GLC 450 Coupe. Suddenly, it could be down to a simple Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet. The other night, I thought the Range Rover Velar would be the best thing for me simply because it’s a freakishly fast SUV, and with an SUV, you can go anywhere and throw anything into it. During dinner about two days ago, I thought the new BMW X3 xDrive30i fitted with the M Performance kit is something I would gladly settle for.
Well, you get the idea as to where I’m going with this.
Today, I was given the key to the new Porsche Panamera 4 Sport Turismo. I rarely have this reaction, but the moment I unlocked the car, entered it, brought the engine to life and settled down in my optimum driving position (after a myriad of adjustments and locking it), the first thing that popped to mind was, “I think this is going to be the perfect car for me.”
However I’ll be honest; this car was intimidating to drive initially. No, no, not because of what lies under the bonnet; but because this car is rather sizeable. Despite measuring 5,049 mm long (150 mm shorter than the regular Panamera), 1,937 mm wide (similar to the Panamera) and with a 2,950 mm wheelbase (150 mm shorter than the Panamera), you just feel as though this car is going to be quite a chore. On the contrary, the Maserati Quattroporte that is 213 mm longer and 11 mm wider (with a wheelbase that’s 221 mm longer) felt less worrying to drive.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not saying it’s an issue here – perhaps it’s due to the fact that when you look at both side mirrors, the first thing you’ll notice are the bulging shoulder lines. Followed by the thick b-pillars and the sloping rear windscreen that does give you limited visibility compared to a, say, Audi A8. Thankfully though, this test car comes with a glass-roof/sun-roof combo and large rear passenger side windows that welcomes sunlight and, as a whole, aids visibility as you drive. Also, I am glad the test car here came fitted with a network of cameras that give you a front and rear, together with top view (called the ‘360-View’)
Then as you drive even more, you begin to feel ‘as one’ with the car; the cockpit is very sorted and you can just know how much effort was spent to make it close to perfect. It’s easy to feel cocooned and just oh-so-comfortable piloting this thing; the seats are so supportive and well-bolstered, even poorly surfaced roads don’t threaten to break your spine. And because every control is easily within reach, along with a large 12.3-inch head-unit that houses all the controls of the car, the audio and multimedia system and climate control, you can actually do a little bit of multi-tasking without having to take your eyes off the road.
Unfortunately though, one of my greatest pet peeve is also found in this car: The mighty use of glossy plastic for the controls that attract dust, fingerprints and reflects sunlight. This is becoming an industry norm, and I’m a little surprised this teenie bit of attention is something car manufacturers, especially luxury brands, seem to ignore.
The rear bench, although sculpted for two adults – and they come with a generous amount of head and legroom, really – could accommodate a young child in the center. Oh, and those classy air-con control and vent is quite the conversation starter. On top of that, there are two USB ports for you to charge your mobile phones.
Boot space wise, the Panamera Sport Turismo here offers 520-litres/1,390-litres, which is more than the 500-litres/1,340-litres offered by the Panamera. And because the electric tailgate opens high, it makes putting items in and out a highly convenient affair.
Power comes courtesy of a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 powerplant, and paired to an 8-speed PDK ‘box, whips out 326 bhp and 450 Nm of torque. Standstill to 100 km/h is delivered in 5.3 seconds, which is respectable after you put into consideration its more than 1.8-tonne kerbweight.
You would usually want to drive a Porsche in a sporty (maybe even swaying towards the point of aggressive) manner, but not with this Sport Turismo. Left in default ‘Normal’ mode, you get a suspension that is brilliantly balanced enough to let your passenger fall asleep, engine and transmission that operates in a refined manner and steering that delivers good feel. The cabin, which is very well insulated again wind and road noise, completes the package; unfortunately tyre roar from the standard Pirelli P Zero still intrudes.
Swap its chassis to Sport Plus mode, select Sport and suddenly the Sport Turismo turns into something else. Besides the sharper steering and throttle response, there’s also that lovely exhaust note to accompany your drive; useful especially when you’re the sort who listens to the engine’s note to upshift or downshift via the paddle-shifters while your eyes are glued to the road. In this particular setting, the car felt like an overgrown hot-hatch, feeling surprisingly nimble, alert and responsive to your inputs; this particular trait obviously contributed also by Porsche’s rear-biased all-wheel drive system that balances the car perfectly, and massive 275/35 R-21 front and 315/30 R-21 rear rubbers. Even in tight snaking roads found at the northwestern part of our island, being aggressive with the car barely broke a sweat. Good job on this, Porsche.
So as much as this Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo impresses with a package that is extensively thought out and brilliantly put together, it somehow didn’t make me feel as thought I really wanted this car. Don’t take this wrongly – if you’re looking for a car the size of an S-Class but have proper focus on driving dynamics and an exterior that’s bound to catch attention, you won’t go wrong with this one.
It’s just that, on a personal note, at my age I want something that’s slightly smaller – think of why the Macan came about to compliment the Cayenne.
The retractable spoiler that can be called on at the press of a button