Five years we’ve waited. At the 2012 Paris Motor Show, Porsche tested public perception on a Sport Turismo Panamera. The response was unanimously positive – not something you could say about the base car – and then with all that interest, Porsche let the project cool off. There was one saving grace that kept our hopes alive. The man responsible for Porsche’s design, Michael Mauer, noted that the design of the Ferrari FF caught his eye. With the Panamera he had his canvas, if he could massage some extra practicality from the concept… well we’d be at the point where we are now, shuffling down a pit lane attached to a tightly coiled circuit near Vancouver.
I’m still a little awe-struck by the Sport Turismo’s reconfigured design. It’s so obviously right and cohesive that I can’t help but feel indifferent to the car that spawned it. This is very much a car of two halves; go from the rear doors to the back and it’s entirely new. A reprofiled rear with smooth lines converging with a tapering roofline. A small aerodynamic spoiler turns into a wing at speed. The length and width remain unchanged yet loading volume is up and rear passengers get a bit of extra space for their knees. Bigger rear doors improve ingress and egress.
Yet you’d need to have some fairly major gripes about the standard car’s luggage and occupant space to need to consider the Sport Turismo on these qualities alone because boot space has only grown by around S per cent but the lower boot aperture does make it seem deceptively more than that. The other unique advantage of the Sport Turismo compared to the normal sedan is the 4+1 seat which in normal parlance translates as a rear seat you can fit three people on. Porsche fusses aver this feature but that +1 is a squeeze with legs sprawled over the transmission tunnel. If your wish is to have a 5-searer Porsche I think you might be better off in a Cayenne. Porsche can try market the Sport Tursimo as the practical sibling but Top Gear views it entirely as the prettier one.
Technically the Sport Turismo’s DNA is closely knitted to the regular Panamera through and through. Despite the slightly heavier weight, from engines to dynamics the two shadow each other remarkably closely. Sometimes we find that estates (sorry but ST is an awful abbreviation) ride better but I still find the Panamera range (in any variation) tries too hard to imitate a 911 than something luxurious so it doesn’t float down the road but rather claws into it.
How does it stack up on the technology side? It helps that the road markings out here glisten with reflective paint for the autonomous systems to pick up on. This, coupled with our previous experience in the Panamera Turbo S on home soil, convinced us that it was indeed very, very good at steering and reading road signs. Nothing revolutionary but right up there with the best And screens are customisable so personalising the information beamed at you is a big part of the experience. With models arriving in South Africa this month, you need to decide whether Sport Turismo justifies the small price walk on a practical level or an emotional one since there are absolutely no compromises to the way it gets down the road, or around a race track for that matter. But we know if Porsche had to axe one Panamera shape from the range we wouldn’t want it to be this one.