by Jay Traugott
So you like fast Porsches and you have a family, but the regular Panamera doesn't quite fit the bill in terms of practicality? Well, the people in Stuttgart won't let that stop you from buying one of their cars: enter the Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo. 'Utility' is a relative term here, but the turbo Sport Turismo is a more commodious option than your regular Panamera. Don't expect 911-like dynamism and handling though, this is still a big and heavy car that just happens to wear a sports car badge and bear a potent powerplant: a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 that develops 550 horsepower and 567 lb-ft of torque, allowing the first Porsche "wagon" to accelerate from 0-60 mph in as little as 3.4 seconds. At a starting price of $155,500, this posh wagon needs to do a lot to justify its price.
A refresh of the options list and package contents is among the changes for the 2019 model year. Speed-sensitive steering is now a standalone option instead of a package component, while a head-up display has been added to the available extras too. A black anodized, brushed aluminum interior finish is newly available too, along with new colors for some stitching variations.
|Turbo Sport Turismo||
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
Characterized by its wagon body, 20-inch contoured five-spoke wheels are standard on the Turbo Sport Turismo, with a number of 21-inch variants available as an option. At the front, the distinctive quad-LED running lights make the Sport Turismo unmistakeable at night, while the fender vent and its trailing lines down the side of the car are intended to imply speed. At the rear, the now-familiar wraparound taillight adds to the already considerable visual width while the quad-exit exhausts help differentiate this from lesser models. Most notably for a vehicle in this segment/body-style, an adaptive roof spoiler caps the rear hatch.
It's no wonder that the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo needs a twin-turbo V8 to get it going, as the base curb weight is 4,486 lbs. Even for a luxury SUV, that would be considered slightly lardy. The attempt to make a wagon look sporty and fit in with the rest of the Porsche lineup has resulted in a relatively low and wide vehicle, with the Sport Turismo measuring 56.4 inches tall and 76.3 inches wide. The length can't be disguised too much, though, with this car measuring 198.8 inches from end to end, riding on a wheelbase of 116.1 inches.
The Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo is still powered exclusively by a gasoline engine in this form, so unlike the new Taycan, the Turbo nomenclature is more than just a trim level. A 4.0-liter V8 twin-turbo powerplant sends 550 hp and 567 lb-ft of motivation to all four wheels via an eight-speed PDK, Porsche's brilliant double-clutch auto. No manual option is available, but in a GT-like estate car that's designed for comfort, nobody is going to miss the absence of the third pedal. What they will miss, though, is their offramp on the freeway, as this thing shunts hard. A breadth of torque available from as low as 2,000rpm and up across the rev range blurs the passing scenery with ease. Turbo lag? Almost non-existent. 0-60mph is dispatched in just 3.6 seconds, and if you spec the Sport Chrono package, that drops to 3.4. When you do eventually run into the limiter, the landscape will be whizzing past at 188 mph - an incredulous figure for such a hulk.
A prerequisite of bearing the emblem of Stuttgart's finest sports car brand is dynamic handling, but, unfortunately, Porsche these days is more of a corporate entity focused on sales and brand image than ensuring that every vehicle handles like it's on rails. As a result, the steering is numb and disconnected, albeit quick to respond to inputs. An optional rear-axle steering system is intended to alleviate this, but it reacts a little too slow to be effective in awakening the car's expected turn-in prowess. That said, body roll is well-maintained thanks to adjustable air suspension and can be further mitigated through the optional Dynamic Chassis Control Sport package. Braking is excellent too, and with various modes available for the chassis, the ride can be both supple and firm, depending on your requirements. Overall, the Sport Turismo is not bad, especially not compared to many rivals, but we expect more from a Porsche, particularly when it has the 'Turbo' moniker emblazoned on the rear.
Official EPA figures reveal that the Turbo Sport Turismo has scored 18/23/20 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles, which, according to some reviewers, is achievable. With a 23.7-gallon premium-only gas tank, one can reasonably expect to fill up every 474 miles or so with mixed driving, provided you can keep the lead out of your boots.
Porsche makes a big hoo-ha about the fact that the Sport Turismo fits five rather than the regular Panamera's four, albeit as a 4+1, but rear occupants will be more comfortable if you spec two individual rear seats instead of the bench. Whichever option you choose, legroom and headroom are improved over the normal Panamera, and even tall rear passengers will be able to relax on long drives. Well-shaped and comfortably padded 14-way power front seats allow for the most minute adjustments to perfect your driving position, and if you spec individual rear seats, these too can be electrically adjusted. Getting in and out is simple too, but the Sport Turismo's obtrusive D-pillars hinder visibility out the rear quarters. The optional blind-spot monitoring system is all but critical to making safe lane changes.
The Sport Turismo is purported to be a more practical alternative to the run-of-the-mill Panamera, but the cargo hold is only marginally bigger at 18.3 cubic feet compared to the regular Panamera's 17.6 cubic feet. Folding the 60/40 rear seats maximizes the available space to 49 cubes, but the improvement in ease of use lies in the larger hatch opening and slightly lower load floor, making storage more convenient. Realistically, you can fit enough luggage for all four occupants to enjoy a weekend away, but if there are only two people traveling, you can take your skis and snowboards along too.
Two cupholders in the front and another two nestled between the outer rear seats hold beverages for all four occupants, and numerous well-sized cubbies and bins are dotted about the cabin, but the center console's bin is oddly shaped. However, where the cargo hold is underwhelming, small-item storage impresses.
The Sport Turismo is available with plenty of pricey optional extras, but a bevy of standard features includes a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, a power liftgate, keyless entry, push-to-start ignition, dual-zone climate control, adaptive air suspension, and heated front and rear seats. Ventilated massaging seats can be added to both the front and rear, along with conveniences like a surround-view camera, quad-zone climate control, a night-vision camera, adaptive headlights, a heated steering wheel, power rear sunshades, a sports exhaust, a head-up display, and speed-sensitive steering. Lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and forward-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking are all available too - available being the operative word.
One of the few big gripes vocally protested against by those who have driven or even just sat in the Panamera Sport Turismo is the infotainment system. The 12.3-inch screen looks phenomenal, but countless sub-menus and confusing layouts make it an absolute chore to use that doesn't get any easier with familiarity. Fortunately, Apple CarPlay is standard along with navigation, a pair of USB ports, Bluetooth, and WiFi. Voice control is another feature added to the Sport Turismo that should become easier to use as the technology improves. A Burmester sound system upgrade is available if the standard setup doesn't suit your tastes, but Android Auto and wireless charging - the norm in many contemporary offerings - are both absent from the entire Panamera range, including Sport Turismos.
No recalls or J.D. Power reliability ratings have yet been published for the Turbo Sport Turismo. Porsche covers the vehicle with a limited warranty for the first four years or 50,000 miles of ownership, whichever comes first. The powertrain is covered for the same period, and Porsche throws in complimentary maintenance for one year or 10,000 miles.
The Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo has not been crash-tested by either the NHTSA or the IIHS. Thus, no scores are available at this time. Available safety features include a surround-view camera, adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, lane change assist, lane-keep assist, a night vision camera, and forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking. Dual front, front side, side curtain, and dual front knee airbags are all included, bringing the total to eight.
If you define your luxury sports utility car by its ability to provide practical storage capacity, a more traditional wagon layout like that of the upcoming 2020 Audi RS6 will be more to your liking. However, as is always the case with Porsche, the choices are all but endless when it comes to customization and personalization - provided your pockets are not of the shallow variety. Coupled with a bomb of an engine and an effortlessly brilliant gearbox, the Turbo Sport Turismo is more about taking off into the distance in comfort and style than it is about being practical. However, if you want style and comfort and don't care too much about handling, a Cayenne is better and offers more usability. Supposing SUVs are not your thing at all, an E-Class wagon could be more up your alley. Overall, the Turbo Sport Turismo is a phenomenal car with many alluring features and plenty of room for choice, but it excels at little other than acceleration, and even there, that long-awaited RS6 will likely put it to shame for less cash. Also, this Porsche infotainment system is so horrendous to use, we'd rather connect our AirPods and stream Apple Music directly from our phones. There are no real benefits to buying this frog-faced car besides its badge. Skip it.
The Turbo Sport Turismo is a standalone performance variant of the Panamera wagon, with no sub-trims attached. The starting MSRP in the USA is a not-inconsiderable $155,000 before the $1,250 delivery fee. Adding on options like bigger wheels, special paint, unique interior color combos, driver aids, suspension and performance enhancements, and the available head-up display can send the cost of ownership well towards the dark side of $200,000.
If money is no object and you must have one, the Turbo Sport Turismo's standard wheels should not come with it. We'd go for a sportier set of 911 Turbo Design 21s at around $3,600. We'd also go for Jet Black Metallic paint to help with a more svelte appearance. The standard black leather is perfectly fine, but we'd upgrade the front and rear seats to ventilated units and add dynamic headlights with Premium Package Plus. This suite includes lane-change assist and soft-close doors. Lane-keep assist, night-vision, and adaptive cruise control in the Assistance package are also worth considering. Park assist with a surround-view camera and a heated steering wheel would round it off nicely, for a final price of around $175,000.
As you may have read, the Audi RS6 is finally en route to our shores, and after such a notable absence, it's already causing a stir. Motivated by the same twin-turbo V8 found in this Porsche, the Audi's lower price and arguably far superior looks are reasons alone to consider waiting for the legendary wagon. In addition, its handling and dynamic capabilities are expected to far outshine those of the more comfort-focused Porsche. Yes, the Porsche badge symbolizes success and sporty intentions, but the Audi is no pauper-mobile and its performance has already been boasted to be even better than the previous generation that Europe and some other parts of the world had access to. The new RS6 will have an incredible 591 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Despite sharing some underpinnings, the supposedly inferior brand hasn't used Porsche's infotainment system and has instead been developing and refining their own system for some time now - and based on what we've seen in their other products, Porsche should have copied its little brother's homework. The Audi promises a maximum of 10 cubes more than the Porsche for a total of 59 cubic feet with seats down. With them up, it's still more practical with 20 cubic feet versus 18.3 in the Turbo Sport Turismo. We'll have to wait to test them side-by-side to give a definitive answer on just how good it is in comparison, but for now, it's worth holding off on the Porsche.
The regular Panamera Turbo is a $4,000 cheaper car, but is it worth less? On paper, there's little split between it and the Sport Turismo variant. The same engine, the same drivetrain, the same transmission, and the fuel economy and fuel tank size are shared. The Sport Turismo offers a maximum of 49 cubic feet of storage, but that's only just bigger than the regular Panamera's 47.3 cubes. Yes, the Turbo Sport Turismo can be had with five seats, but beyond that and the styling changes that only aficionados will notice, nothing is different. The same standard features are equipped and the same options are open to both models. The extra cost being spent on the supposed increase in practicality is unjustifiable - 1.7 cubic feet and an extra (small) chair is not worth spending an extra $4k on. If you must have a Panamera Turbo, stick with the original - the Sport Turismo is little more than a marketing exercise.
Check out some informative Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo video reviews below.