by Roger Biermann
While Porsche may be better known for two-door sports cars with the engine in the wrong place, recent times have seen them move towards four-door alternatives to bolster the financial coffers, selling sedans of sorts, SUVs, and even a hybrid station wagon. Cast aside any aspersions of eco-friendly family motoring, though, as the Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is still a Porsche at heart, meaning electrification merely adds to the performance, and the long roofline merely caters to those who want wagon practicality without SUV ride height. Two powertrains - a twin-turbo V6 and a twin-turbo V8 - are paired with a 134 horsepower electric motor to develop 457 hp and 677 hp respectively, slinging the electrified Sport Turismo from 0-60 mph in as quickly as 3.2 seconds. Competition is nowhere to be found, with Ferrari's GTC4Lusso twins possibly the closest but still lacking hybridization and a set of rear doors. With the monopoly of the segment, Porsche refuses to rest on its laurels though - the Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is simply mega.
Not content with merely occupying a space without being exceptional, the Panamera Sport Turismo range has received updates for 2019 that find themselves applicable to the E-Hybrid versions, much of which is made up of new options and revised packages. A head-up display has been made available, Porsche's speed-sensitive steering, dubbed Power Steering Plus, is a standalone option, and the Brushed Aluminum Interior package has an anodized black finish. A few new stitching options are also available.
The hump-backed Panamera has been tried by the jury of public opinion and been found guilty on the count of questionable styling. But in Sport Turismo guise, all is right with the world. A shooting brake roofline appeals to a niche of enthusiasts that don't buy into traditional notions of what looks good or doesn't. 19-inch alloy wheels are standard on the 4 E-Hybrid model, while the Turbo S E-Hybrid sports wheels ranging in size from 20-21 inches. Yellow E-Hybrid badging and brake calipers set the E-Hybrid variants apart, while the two trims are differentiated by dual exhaust tips, black window surrounds, and black side vents on the 4 E-Hybrid, and quad-tips, chrome surrounds, and body-colored side vents on the Turbo S E-hybrid.
By no means a compact car, the Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo occupies a substantial amount of real estate. Measuring 198.8 inches long, 85.2 inches wide (76.3 inches with mirrors folded), and riding on a 116.1 inch wheelbase, the key dimensions are identical to a standard Panamera. The 4 E-Hybrid stands at 56.2 inches tall, the Turbo S another 0.2 inches taller still, while the latter is also marginally less aerodynamic with a drag coefficient of 0.35 to the base model's 0.34 rating. The E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is also a rather tubby guy, with curb weights ranging from 4,996 lbs to 5,279 lbs - approximately 600 lbs more than a regular Panamera.
Twin-turbocharging and electrification are the order of the day, as the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is powered by a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 developing 330 hp and 327 lb-ft of torque, while the Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo finds a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 beneath its hood pumping out 550 hp and 567 lb-ft. Both are supplemented by a 134 hp/295 lb-ft electric motor that bolsters total outputs to 457 hp and 516 lb-ft in 4 E-Hybrid guise - quick enough for a 4.4-second 0-60 mph sprint time with the Sport Chrono Package and a 170 mph top speed. Outputs are boosted to 677 hp and 626 lb-ft in Turbo S E-Hybrid form, enabling a 3.2-second 0-60 mph run (with the Sport Chrono Package) and a 192 mph top speed. An eight-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) dual-clutch automatic gearbox services both models, as does permanent all-wheel-drive, providing lightning-fast shifts to accompany the thunderous soundtracks, all-weather grip, and electric performance.
Make no mistake, the Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo twins are not 911s. Even without big vee engines and battery packs, these are mammoth beasts, but with the scales tipped at 5,000 lbs plus, they're behemoths of metal, leather and glass. Still, they somehow hide their weight - albeit not completely. Sure, a hit of electrification overcomes inertia, but when cornering, Porsche's standard air suspension and sticky performance tires support the weight, cushion impacts from the road surface and manage to cling on for dear life with some aplomb. You'd be hard-pressed to guess the Panamera's weight from a mere drive, as it hides its heft brilliantly, but it lacks the clinical precision of a genuine Porsche sports car. Still, it can be made sharper with available speed-variable steering, rear-wheel steering, active anti-roll bars and the Sport Chrono package. The braking system is fantastic straight out of the box, however, as the massive 10-piston front brakes clamping down on huge carbon-ceramic rotors are potent enough to slow the earth's rotation, let alone stop the 5,000-pound super-wagon in its tracks.
Despite having a slipperier body than the standard Panamera, Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo achieves identical EPA estimates to its sedan sibling. That means the 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo will achieve in the realm of 23 mpg combined on premium gas and 51 MPGe on electric power, while the Turbo S E-Hybrid will manage 20 mpg on gasoline and 48 MPGe on electric juice. The 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack doesn't grant an immense electric range, with only about 14 miles expected, but when combining electrification with 21.1 gallons of gasoline on a full tank, 490 miles worth of range is theoretically achievable. The battery can be recharged by a combination of recharge driving modes, or by simply plugging into a wall socket, but just how long it takes is something Porsche doesn't lay claim to.
Porsche interiors simply feel special. Of course, they should - when you're spending in excess of $107,800 on a sedan, you expect it to boast the finest soft leathers, but you also expect more than just eight-way power adjustment as is standard on the 4 E-Hybrid. These can be upgraded to 14-way seats with memory (standard on the Turbo S) or even 18-way Adaptive Sports Seats Plus. Heated front and rear seats and front-seat ventilation are the reserves of the Premium Package Plus, along with soft-close doors, but all can be opted for individually, too, along with massage functionality for all four passengers. The cabin is a wonderfully classy place to be, but it is snug - not so much for front occupants but for those in the back seats. There's loads of headroom in Sport Turismo guise, but legroom is lacking, particularly for those over six-feet tall.
Part of the allure to a wagon is the abundance of storage space, but the Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is still fairly cramped in this regard. Behind the rear seats, 15 cubic feet is 10 fewer than a Honda Civic Hatchback, but the rear seats can be folded in a 40/20/40 split to increase this to a far more practical 45.7 cubic feet. It's still a surprisingly practical load area, though, with a square footprint and a flat floor, but the lush carpet is the kind you wouldn't want to dirty too much. In-cabin storage doesn't perform as well, however. The door pockets are small and awkward to access, the center console storage is limited, and cup holders are limited to four, with the two up front being of different sizes. The rear passengers do get a rubberized storage area though.
Porsche only sells vehicles well-enough equipped to make them enticing, but then charges you extra for all the really nice bits and pieces. That's why, as standard, you only get eight-way power-adjustable partial-leather seats, dual-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, and automatic LED headlights. Of course, you can pile on hundreds of options, from heated and ventilated memory seats with or without massage functions to LED matrix headlights, and even thermal and noise insulated glass. Soft-close doors, quad-zone climate control, ambient lighting, comfort access, and a head-up display are all additional extras, but at least Porsche gives you a semi-virtual cockpit experience to start. A number of assistance features can be had as standalone items or as part of packages, such as lane change assist, night-vision, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist, a surround-view camera, and front and rear park assist sensors, to name but a few.
Porsche Communication Management (PCM) forms the basis of the Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo's infotainment suite, housing media, navigation, and wireless internet connectivity on a 12.3-inch touchscreen display with CD/DVD, SD card, auxiliary, or Bluetooth media functionality in addition to AM/FM digital radio. Inputs can be made via touch, gesture, or handwriting recognition, and the screen can be customized with a range of widgets, which can become confusing. What makes it a little less confusing is using your smartphone, something you can achieve comprehensively only if you have an iPhone, as Apple CarPlay is available but Android Auto isn't. The standard audio system on the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is a basic 150-watt setup with ten speakers, but upgrades are available to a 14-speaker Bose system with 710 watts of punch. This is standard on the Turbo S and both variants can be upgraded further to a 1,455-watt, 21-speaker Burmester system.
While 2019 has been kind to the Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, no fewer than five recalls affected the 2018 model, with issues ranging from failing control units, intermittent loss of power steering assist, and brake line corrosion to no visual warning of brake pad wear, and on Turbo S models, a rear axle anti-roll bar connecting link that may detach. Porsche covers the E-Hybrid Sport Turismo range with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty and a limited battery warranty of eight years/100,000 miles.
Unsurprisingly, neither the IIHS or NHTSA has evaluated the Panamera for crashworthiness. But you can rest assured Porsche wouldn't let it leave the factory if it posed any threat to potential buyers, which is why the Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo comes standard with eight airbags including dual front knee bags, with the option to add rear-seat side airbags. You also get high-performance brakes, advanced stability and traction control systems, and depending on how you specify yours, everything from adaptive cruise control with traffic sign recognition to surround-view cameras, blind-spot monitoring, parking assist front and rear and even a night-vision camera.
The truth is, you've already made your mind up as to whether or not you want a Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo in your garage or not. If you've decided in favor, then let us be the voice of agreement. It's a niche vehicle that's unlike any other luxury wagon on sale, but the extra practicality and style afforded by the Sport Turismo body simply adds an extra layer of exclusivity to the Panamera, which is already one of, if not the most accomplished luxury performance sedan on the market. The hit of electrification in E-Hybrid form simply means it's even more powerful, more potent, and yet more economical, with all-electric driving ability bolstering your bragging rights among your wealthy peers. The infotainment might not be the easiest to use or the most functional, the cargo volume might be less practical than a Buick Regal TourX, and you might need to spend tens of thousands of extra dollars on options alone, but you'll be a member of an elite club as the owner and driver of a Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, and can you really put a price on exclusivity? P.S. You can: exclusivity starts at $107,800.
Like all Porsches, a Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo will never leave the factory in base configuration, but if it were to do so, a 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo would set you back $107,800 excluding options, taxes, licensing, and destination charges of $1,350. Desire excess in wagon form? Then the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo starts at $191,700. But be careful, as if you get too generous with the options, a maxed-out E-Hybrid Sport Turismo can push close on $275,000.
The two trims in the Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo differ vastly, primarily in their means of propulsion, but with the ability to silently cruise along on electric power only, you'll feel a little less guilty buying the Turbo S E-Hybrid with a big twin-turbo V8. After that, the sky's the limit, but we'd spec ours with the $1,550 18-way adaptive sports seats, Premium and Assistance packages for night vision, ventilated seats, lane keep assist, matrix headlights, adaptive cruise control and the $3,860 sport exhaust to hear the V8 sing as loudly as possible. The rear-axle steering isn't necessary for most, but front and rear park assist are, and no car costing in excess of $100,000 should be without a head-up display. All-in, you're looking at $209,540, but you can save yourself a small fortune if you opt for a similarly specced 4 E-Hybrid model, and truthfully you'd hardly notice the difference in the real world.
The Panamera E-Hybrid Sport Turismo might be alone as the only high-performance hybrid wagon, but it isn't the only high-performance wagon in existence, as Ferrari sells a pair of true shooting brakes under the GTC4Lusso and GTC4Lusso T monikers. The latter pairs off here, primarily because at 602 hp from its 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8, it has 140 hp more than the hybrid Porsche. That'll see it closely match the Turbo S E-Hybrid from 0-60 mph, the Porsche's electric torque being its savior against a lighter, more powerful foe. However, being lighter, the Ferrari handles far better, scalpel-sharp and with a trick AWD system giving it a rear-driven bias. It's also more soulful, more tactile and more exclusive. But with only two doors, it's less practical, and the rear seats in the Porsche are vastly more accommodating, as is the cargo bay. Objectively speaking, the Porsche makes more sense, but since when have cars of this ilk ever been about making sense? Both are phenomenal, and if you can afford one, why not buy them both?
Those who love wagons will punt them above their SUV counterparts, but in this case, the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid Coupe starts off some $30,000 cheaper than the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, offers easier ingress and egress, more interior space, and 2.6 cubic feet more cargo space behind the rear seats. It's an objective whitewash. But the buyer of a Cayenne is very different from that of a Panamera, and the latter will be happier knowing that similar powertrains don't achieve the same results. The Panamera's lower body means better dynamics, and it'll achieve 0-60 mph sprint times almost half a second quicker than the stiletto-wearing Cayenne Coupe. When the road twists, the Panamera will be better still, and despite lacking the practicality of an SUV, it'll always be the more visceral, enjoyable drive. Not to mention the exclusivity factor of driving a hybrid Porsche wagon - every second Upper East Side soccer mom will be driving the Cayenne before long.