The late Chancellor Helmut Kohl was six foot three. Porsche's former CEO Wendelin Wiedeking was even taller. David Hasselhoff is also 6'3” ( hair). Many successful Germans are tall.
To suit these lofty Teutons of industry, Porsche built the first Panamera, a luxury sedan featuring an interior crammed with technology, and an exterior crammed with ugly. The GTS and Turbo models were exceedingly quick, which was good, because you wouldn't want to look at them for extended periods of time.
However, Porsche seems to have smoothed things out with the second generation of their flagship sedan, to the point that it now just looks a bit like a longcat version of a Porsche 911. Even better is this new Sport Turismo variant, the production version of a concept first shown at the Paris Motor Show in 2012. It's The-Panamera-That-Doesn't-Make-You-Want-To-Claw-Your-Eyes-Out – which I'm almost positive they're not going to use as the advertising tagline.
1. Five seater? No, this is a “4 1.”
The standard Panamera is intended for Herrs Kohl, Wiedeking, and Hasselhoff, whomever has to drive them to the Kraftwerk concert. The Sport Turismo also has room for a small child, as long as he or she is not too rotund: no Üter Zörkers please. All three seats fold individually, and if you'd prefer a little extra bolstering out back, the usual Panamera four seat layout is an option.
2. There's more so much space! For activities!
At 18.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 49 cubic feet with the rears folded flat, the Sport Turismo provides considerably more space than the standard Panamera. Thanks in part to moving the power-deploying spoiler to the roof, the Turismo can accommodate an extra suitcase or two. Note, however, that the sloping rear glass still means something like the Mercedes-Benz E-class wagon has this roomiest Panamera beat in the haulage department.
3. Functional downforce. On a wagon.
Porsche makes a big deal out of their new deployable roof spoiler, probably because it took a lot more engineering than just bolting on a Cessna, as seen on the back of the Civic Type-R. The spoiler deploys at 105 mph (hello, officer) in normal modes, producing a claimed 110 lbs of downforce over the rear axle. Opening the sunroof also causes the spoiler to kick up to maximum attack mode, helping to reduce buffeting.
4. If you've got a dog, this is your Porsche.
Moving the spoiler to the roof means Porsche was able to rework the rear hatch and section out a lower loading floor for the Sport Turismo. The result is a wider space that's easier for a retriever-sized dog to clamber in and out of; throw some 3M on the rear bumper, and off you go for walkies.
5. The Turbo model is still ludicrously fast.
Over a looping backroad in the wilds of Vancouver Island, the Turbo variant of the Sport Turismo displayed sufficient thrust to turn that theoretical retriever into a two-dimensional laminate. Porsche claims 0-60 mph times of 3.6 seconds, or 3.4 if you've got the Sport Chrono option. Either way, the pairing of the 550 hp twin-turbo V8 and the new eight-speed PDK produces vicious acceleration.
6. It's the new king of the fast German wagons.
Even that kind of crushing acceleration will only put you door-to-door with everyone's favorite jetpack/backpack, the Mercedes-AMG E63 wagon. However, the Merc is a relatively blunt weapon, and the Sport Turismo is almost spookily grippy. There's plenty of weight here, at 4400 lbs for the Turbo model, but the Sport Turismo will shame many a proper sportscar.
7. The hybrid version is probably the sweet spot in the range.
Powered by a twin-turbo V6 that's supplemented by an electric drive motor, the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo has a long and silly name, but is very good indeed. Total power output is 462 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, which the latter coming on like a light switch. The Turbo is one second faster to 60 mph, but around town, the E-Hybrid's instant punch is ideal.