2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo

You can call it a station wagon or a shooting brake, we will simply call it handsome. Porsche’s new variant of its second-generation Panamera, the Sport Turismo, looks like a chopped Cayenne SUV. At Porsche’s press launch held on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, dozens of grizzled automotive writers debated whether the Sport Turismo or standard Panamera gets the style prize.

We’d go home with the Sport Turismo.

Aside from the styling, its svelte posterior swallows an extra suitcase, and its lower load edge simplifies packing. Dropping the rear seats creates a long, flat cargo floor. The Panamera sedan is strictly a four-seater, but the Sport Turismo’s “4+1 seating” totes five. The person in the middle rear position might grumble, but they won’t be calling Lyft.

The harder decision is which of the four all-wheel-drive powertrains to choose. The base Panamera 4 Sport Turismo, starting at $97,250, gets a 330-hp 3.0-liter V-6 with a single twin-scroll turbocharger. Move up to the 4S model at $110,250 for a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 that adds 100 horses and shaves a second off the 4’s 5.2-second 0-to-60-mph run.

The Turbo trim level justifies its $155,050 base price with a throaty 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 good for 550 hp and a wicked 3.4-second 0-to-60 dash. Finally, the plug-in 4 E-Hybrid ($105,050 before tax credits) whispers to 86 mph purely on electric power. “Hybrid Auto” mode delivers the best mix of the 2.9-liter V-6 and an electric motor. Total system output of 462 hp will slay your neighbor’s Prius.

2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo rear 3/4
2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo Porsche

The Sport Turismo is thrilling to drive hard, with a smooth, quick-shifting eights-peed dual-clutch transmission and an adaptive air suspension—optional on the base 4, standard on other models—that brilliantly bridges comfort with handling. Think sports car dynamics without brittleness. Body roll is minimal. Hustling down winding roads with the Panamera’s perfectly weighted steering and heroic brakes is a good way to set a bad example for the kids.

The leather, aluminum, and wood that line the cabin are on par with $200,000 exotics, and the door releases and air vents have a soul-satisfying heft. This cabin lacks the showy LED interior lighting of a BMW 7 Series, though. Porsche commendably replaced the first-gen Panamera’s blizzard of buttons and knobs with a simplified console and an enormous touchscreen interface.

That first Panamera might have placated purists who felt Porsche shouldn’t have gotten into the SUV business with the original Cayenne, but its raised rear roofline compromised its profile. The new Panamera is far better looking, the Sport Turismo even more so. What a wonderful dilemma for Panamera buyers.

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