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2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo E-Hybrid: A wagon with style, speed and grace

2018 Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid 26.JPG
2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo E-Hybrid (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

Eying the 2018 Porsche Panamera in our garage, my husband was dubious.

“It looks like a wagon,” my husband said.

“Has the Porsche Panamera always looked like a wagon, or is this something new?” he asked.

Then he quickly followed up with a flat: “I don’t like it.”

The “Sport Turismo” body style is new for 2018, and frankly, I think my husband is wrong. I love the wagon-esque styling and the advantages it brings to the Panamera lineup.


In addition to increased cargo volume and headroom in the second row, the Sport Turismo body style also offers 4+1 rear seating and a lower rear load floor.

Plus, it just looks cool.

Good thing my husband and I have a healthy relationship, and at the end of the day we agreed to disagree on this matter. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all.

Design

When I look at the Sport Turismo body style, oddly I don’t see a stretched version of the Panamera. Instead, I see more of a baby Cayenne.

I like the long swoopy lines and the rounded tail end that houses the hatch.

The profile is distinctly Porsche, more curvaceous than severe, yet the side vents with trailing horizontal lines add an air of graceful athleticism.


Because the test vehicle was an E-Hybrid, it was surrounded with Acid Green accents on the badging and brake calipers. I thought this was a nice complement to the Sapphire Blue Metallic exterior paint.

It’s been a while since I’ve been behind the wheel of a Porsche, so I expected a dizzying array of outdated buttons and technology on the center stack. What I got were clean lines and digital touch controls that light up when the vehicle is turned on.

The overall effect is attractive and modern.

The large in-dash screen is also cleanly designed. However, Porsche, like pretty much every other automaker, is struggling with in-screen design and intuitive menus.

While all the elements within the screen housed pretty pictures, the actual menu was a bit of a disaster. In addition to making things hard to find, this infotainment system makes you page through multiple menus to get to the screens you really want – which could create some serious driver distraction.


Ride & Handling

Whether you love or hate the fact Porsche has ventured into the family vehicle arena, there is no doubt that sports car DNA echoes throughout its entire lineup.

This is only the second time I’ve been behind the wheel of a Panamera, but it confirms my first impression: Wow. If I didn’t know I wasn’t driving a sports car, I’d think I was driving a sports car.

From the supportive sport seats to the zippy acceleration, the Panamera Sport Turismo is pure joy to drive. Comfortable and responsive, this is a vehicle that easily moves from playful to purposeful in the blink of an eye.

Because this was the E-Hybrid version, it came equipped with the 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine plus an electric motor. Combined power output is 462 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque.

This bests the solo twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6 available in the Panamera 4S, which delivers 440 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque.


The Panamera Sport Turismo 4 E-Hybrid delivers a 0-to-60-mph time of 4.4 seconds, a quarter-mile sprint in 12.9 seconds and a top track speed of 170 mph.

And this is where the 4S bests the E-Hybrid by a hair. It’s corresponding numbers are 4.0, 12.6 and 177, respectively.

Fuel economy

As an E-Hybrid, the test vehicle had the option to plug in to charge, which then allows for about 20 miles of all-electric driving. Assuming you charge regularly but still need to dip into the gasoline engine occasionally, the EPA estimates that you should get 46 MPGe.

I only charged up a couple times because I wanted to test both electric and gasoline driving modes, and I still managed to get 40 MPGe in combined driving for the week.

One quick note on charging: If you have access to a Level 2 charger (240v), it’ll take you about 3 hours to charge completely. If you only have access to a wall jack (120v) like me, it’ll take closer to 14 hours to charge.

It is also worth noting the top electric-only speed (assuming you aren’t thumping the accelerator) is 86 mph.


As tested

The Panamera offers Sedan, Executive and Sport Turismo body styles and has multiple powertrains available from the mono V-6 to the turbo V-8 mated to the electric motor. The only vehicle available in rear-wheel drive is the base Panamera, which starts at $86,050.

All other Panamera trims are only available with all-wheel drive.

The Panamera comes standard with partial leather seats in black or gray, 19-inch wheels, an 8-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) transmission and 8-way power adjustable front seats.

But if you want exterior paint that isn’t white or black, a heated steering wheel, heated-and-cooled front seats or pretty much anything else, it’s an option. So the expensive base price leaps higher as you individualize your vehicle.


The test vehicle was a Panamera 4 Sport Turismo E-Hybrid, which has a base price of $105,050.

It added $15K in options including the Sapphire Blue Metallic paint, rear axle steering, heated steering wheel, 20-inch Panamera design wheels, front seat ventilation, lane change assist, soft close doors, a 7.2kW onboard charger, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and 14-way power front seats with memory.

The as-tested price was $120,390.

Safety

In addition to all the standard safety tech you’d expect, Porsche has many available safety features, including adaptive cruise control, dynamic LED headlights, blind spot monitoring, night vision and lane keep assist.

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway safety offer crash test ratings for the Panamera.


New for 2018

The Sport Turismo body style is all new in the U.S. market for 2018.

A few of my favorite things

I’m huge fan of the styling. I love the functionality of a wagon, and I really appreciate the fact that adding more cargo volume doesn’t compromise the fun factor of driving this vehicle.

Panamera was redesigned for 2016, and it entered the modern era with more digital displays, configurable behind-the-wheel gauges and sleek center-stack styling. I do not miss the barrage of buttons that greeted me in the previous iteration.

What I can leave

I know I only spent a week with the Panamera, and an owner might have different insight, but I found the infotainment menus to be confusing and unintuitive. I had to page through several screens to access information I wanted, and I can see this being a huge driver distraction.


I’m also not a fan of the “everything’s an option” mantra. I understand why Porsche does this, even if I don’t agree with it. The automaker wants every vehicle to be specific to each owner, giving them everything they want and nothing they don’t.

However, when you shell out more than $100K for a vehicle, there are certain things you might expect to be standard – such as heated seats or adaptive cruise control –and they aren’t.

The bottom line

Right now, the Panamera Sport Turismo is playing in a segment of one, since there aren’t many luxury wagon-esque vehicles available – especially when you factor in the E-Hybrid powertrain. So, add “unique” to the adjectives describing this vehicle.

Even though my husband and I disagreed about the Pamamera Sport Turismo looks, the one thing we both agreed on is the high level of comfort and smooth maneuverability.

If your soul craves a sports car yet your significant other demands you get a functional family vehicle, the Panamera Sport Turismo is an excellent compromise.

It’s still incredibly fun to drive and provides excellent space for passengers and cargo.