Fancy a station wagon?

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Porsche Panamera, in Sport Turismo shooting-brake form, is made for road trips.


WORDS  BRIAN M. AFUANG

“Shooting brake” sounds romantic, very British. It summons images of gentlemen-hunters in tweed jackets and breeks, tattersall check shirts and braces, flat caps and Wellingtons—all of them cradling bespoke rifles as they huddle in the back of a, well, shooting brake.

Yes, “shooting brake” is just a fancy name for a station wagon. And it suits the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo because this car is one very fancy station wagon. All right, Porsche stops short of officially calling it as such, but then this can only be expected; to ask the car’s very German makers to adopt an evocatively British term is simply too much. To their credit, they’ve already stretched themselves at Sport Turismo, which sounds vastly better than “bahnhof wagen,” or something similar. It’s likely though that some Tom, Dieter, or Hans did pitch that term in a meeting.

In any case, the Panamera Sport Turismo is basically the second-generation Panamera sport sedan that received a butt job in the form of an expanded cargo bay aft of the backseat, this added space accessed through a rear hatch door. So not only is it a more useful version of the Panamera sedan—its cabin can even be ordered in a 4+1 layout, meaning a third person will be grudgingly allowed at the backseat—but on account of it being a shooting brake it looks way better as well. Station wagons, generally speaking, are always cooler than sedans and sports cars. Shooting brakes rest on a higher perch.

Certainly, they are perfect for road trips too, especially so if it looks like there will be more than two people in a car, and if any—or all—of them tend to bring more luggage on a trip than what’s commonly accepted as reasonable. That said, hauling pack rats is not what the Panamera Sport Turismo is for—that’s a role best reserved for stodgy minivans. Or poor excuses for station wagons, like those the Yankees used to make. The Panamera Sport Turismo is a Porsche. And Porsche, even if it does not always get its cars to look nice—the original Panamera had awful styling—is known to habitually get its cars to drive great. On account of this, it isn’t unreasonable to expect the Panamera Sport Turismo to be as athletic as its sporty siblings are.

The car comes in five basic cuts defined by posh levels, three types of power plants—two are fed by either gasoline or diesel while the third combines a gasoline V8 and an electric motor—and a choice of rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. Two variants are presently sold in the Philippines: the Panamera 4 Sport Turismo and the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo. The former relies on a turbocharged, 330-horsepower, 450-Newton-meter, 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine to spin all its wheels while the latter—also an all-wheel drive—is propelled by a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 expelling 550 horsepower and 770 Newton-meter. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox called PDK, which stands for Porsche Doppelkupplung, lending credence to the likelihood of “bahnhof wagen” having been thrown about as a possible Panamera station wagon tag.

Now those are big numbers up there. And so there is no reason to doubt Porsche when it says the power ratings are good enough to let the Panamera 4 Sport Turismo sprint from rest to 100 kph in 5.5 seconds and the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo in only 3.8 seconds. Top speed is placed at 259 kph and 304 kph, respectively. To put those in perspective, a current Porsche 911 Carrera—the planet’s sports car benchmark—manages the 100-kph sprint in 4.4 seconds.

As delightful as it surely is to prove those quoted figures as accurate, proceedings need not really be as rushed when aboard the 4, or the Turbo, Sport Turismo. Because by slowing down a bit, by not chasing the horizon with the fast pedal mashed to the carpet all the time, the supple ride guaranteed by the car’s adaptive air suspension is likely to get noticed better. Porsche says the thing is an improved take over the one fitted to the previous Panamera, with more choices between the soft and hard spring settings, plus the ability to alter its stiffness in a “fraction of a second” to keep the car as level as possible during acceleration, braking, and cornering. This should be a welcome treat on any road trip.

Also, taking things a bit easy means there’s a good chance the techie, business lounge vibe of the Sport Turismo’s cabin can be appreciated more. In there, expanses of supple leather blend with swaths of Alcantara, brushed-metal trim and gloss-black surfaces. If the 4+1 seating option box is not ticked, all four possible occupants are swaddled in place by heavily bolstered, hollowed out bucket seats, with a console that splits the cabin in two providing them with every multimedia and climate-control function they could want—accessed via touch screen panels, at that.

Facing the driver is the signature three-spoke Porsche steering wheel (well, a large Porsche crest is plastered smack in the middle) on which more control buttons reside. Behind this rests the Porsche Advanced Cockpit, a suite of high-resolution displays and touch screens for various controls. Gone are traditional instruments like the speedo, tach, and other gauges, their functions replaced by graphic digital readouts. Complementing these are displays for sundry information and the numerous driver-assist systems.

There’s more techie stuff. On the console between driver and front passenger sits the Porsche Communication Management, a 12.3-inch touch screen on which people can write a destination for the navigation system to plot a route for, as well as swipe through pages and pages of menus and controls. Combining phone, navigation, and entertainment functions, it can control the surround-sound speakers and the optional audio/video screens for backseat passengers. The system also links with online app services and digital devices.

Meanwhile, the longer, higher roof in the Sport Turismo’s rear, not to mention the electrically operated hatch door, means it is much easier to toss in markedly more luggage at the car’s back than is possible in the Panamera sedan—which hints of a fastback coupe-like silhouette rather than a shooting brake’s. The low floor and deep cutline of the Sport Turismo’s hatch makes lifting stuff into the back less of a pain, too. Plus, Porsche notes it is also just as effortless for people to slide in and out of the backseat, thanks to the car’s raised roof.

Oh, and while everybody sits low inside the car, or even if the greenhouse isn’t exactly tall, the view outside remains generous. Leg- and headroom in the front and the back are as ample.

Now, need to lug more stuff, particularly irregularly shaped items? Then fold down the backseat, or parts of it, to take in more cargo. Of course, the implication of such a move is that backseat passengers have to be ditched (one can stay if only half of the seat is folded down). Besides all the niceties offered by the Sport Turismo, what this pair will miss are the added convenience of getting to plug devices into the USB sockets fitted in the cargo bay. On a road trip, apparently the ability to charge phones or tablets is vital.

As for extra passengers, too bad they aren’t as indispensable.