Porsche has history with estate cars. The iconic Audi RS2 was partly a Porsche collaboration, and was even built at the German sports car maker’s plant in Zuffenhausen. The RS2 arguably kick-started the trend for super-wagons back in the mid-nineties. That resonates to this day, but it’s taken a while for the company to produce its very own.
First hinted at five years ago as a concept, the Panamera Sport Turismo has finally rolled on to the road. The production car has changed very little from that early design concept; the longer roof suits the proportions of the second-generation Panamera, the bigger hatch adding some usefulness.
Visually it’s transformational, then, but if you’re looking for a more practical Panamera then you might be a little bit disappointed. Most Panamera Sport Turismos offer 520 litres of space with the seats up, and 1,390 litres with them down, but Mercedes-Benz’s CLS Shooting Brake betters that with 590/1,590 litres. Choose this fuel-sipping Panamera 4 E-Hybrid and that shrinks a bit, to 425 litres and 1,295 litres respectively, thanks to an electric/petrol drivetrain that demands a little more room for packaging.
Twenty litres is the gain over the normal Panamera, which isn’t much, but then the access is easier, and those rear seats fold in a 40/20/40 formation. Push a button in the rear to unlock them and fold the seatbacks forward; the resulting floor is almost flat. Porsche even offers a load-retention kit if you’re serious about carrying stuff.
More importantly, perhaps, there are now three rear seats over the usual two. However, even Porsche somewhat apologetically refers to its new layout as a 4+1. That’s hardly surprising, either, because you’d never describe the raised centre cushion as a proper seat, or even as a useful occasional one.
The roofline does give a bit more rear headroom, but otherwise it’s all familiar Panamera, with a fine driving environment, neat finishes and easy operation of the infotainment functions and driving modes.
The 4 E-Hybrid adds some complexity to the driving mix with its various hybrid specific modes. These are numerous enough to necessitate more than simple selection via the wheel-mounted Mode Switch that’s standard here. Elements such as E-Hold and E-Charge will also require a degree of interaction with the touchscreen that dominates the centre of the dashboard.
In default Auto-Hybrid mode, the powertrain will push the Sport Turismo along in electric power as often as possible, using the 136bhp electric motor to maximise economy. It’s smooth, quiet and quick, too, and able to run the car up to and beyond UK motorway speeds.
Do so and you’ll do well to get near the 15-31-mile electric range Porsche quotes, let alone the 113mpg overall economy figure. Still, if you have a short, urban commute and like the idea of the 4 E-Hybrid’s duality, then there’s a place for it.
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