Fanny packs were cool for a while and then all of a sudden, anyone who wore one would get mercilessly ridiculed, despite how practical they were.
Engine: 4.0L twin-turbo V8
Output: 550 hp, 567 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 8-speed PDK automatic
US Fuel Economy (MPG): 18 city, 23 hwy, 20 combined
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 13.4 city, 10.1 hwy, 11.9 combined
US Price: Starts at $155,050/approx. $177,000 as tested
CAN Price: Starts at $176,850/$200,890 as tested
(All pricing includes destination)
Fanny packs are back in vogue and the reason is that they’ve gone high-brow. The moment luxury fashion houses like Gucci, Balenciaga, and Louis Vuitton started making fanny packs, they became the most desirable accessory and celebrities and supermodels were seen everywhere wearing them. The only difference now is they’re not called fanny packs anymore and have been rebranded as “belted bags” or “bum bags.”
Wagons are a lot like fanny packs in this way: Immensely practical, once in style, then hugely uncool. Now, wagons are having a resurgence and it’s also because they’ve gone upmarket. Once you make something exclusive, expensive, luxurious, and stylish, the well-monied will come knocking.
ALSO READ: Top 10 Best Station Wagons: 2019
Porsche is to wagons what Gucci is to fanny packs, even though “wagon” has become a dirty word. TourX, Estate, Sportbrake, Sportwagen, Touring, Avant, and now Sport Turismo: These are all words that have been used to rebrand the wagon. But let’s not forget, fanny packs will always be fanny packs and wagons will always be wagons. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Conformity is Lame
The Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo makes a strong case against the SUV. Far more suave than any SUV could ever be, the low-slung and impossibly attractive wagon is a call to attract all those wealthy people who like doing things a bit differently and refuse to conform. With standard AWD, the Sport Turismo is the ultimate all-seasons Porsche. The Sport Turismo on winter tires felt equally safe and confident during a catastrophic ice storm as it did on summer tires and mercifully dry, warm pavement.
All Porsche, All the Time
Besides feeling confident in all types of weather, the Sport Turismo is a Porsche after all, which means that excellent driving dynamics and luxury come together in a seamless package. Although never as sharp or connected as a Cayman, the Panamera Turbo wagon’s performance will never disappoint you. There is a ton of technology at play to ensure this big, heavy car still handles, corners, and performs like a Porsche should, and it all works together admirably to make the wagon drive like a smaller car. The optional four-wheel steering is one of these features that make the wagon drive smaller than it actually is. It makes the big wagon easier to pilot in tighter spaces like a parking garage and also increases stability and maneuverability at high speeds.
It also helps that visibility is excellent around this big car. Blind spots are small and an effective blind spot monitor has a red indicator on the side mirror housing that’s clear and easy to see. Even the small triangular windows behind the A-pillar make it easier to see pedestrians or into corners and a crisp top-down 360-degree camera makes parking a one-shot affair.
Although there’s a hint of pedal deadness and hesitation when you stomp on the pedal aggressively and wait for a beat for the turbos to do their business, acceleration is still ridiculous. The Turbo is powered by a smooth and obscenely powerful 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that outputs 550 horsepower and 567 pound-feet of torque that gets power to all four wheels via Porsche’s snappy and intuitive eight-speed PDK transmission. The steering is perhaps the wagon’s only weakness (calling it a weakness is a gross exaggeration, it’s still excellent), as it would benefit from feeling more connected to the road, though it is precise and responsive. I also think the car is far too quiet and I want more dramatic noises, but an optional sport exhaust package should fix that right up.
Porsche also has one of the best infotainment systems in the luxury sphere right now. The system is clean and intuitive and the huge widescreen itself responds quickly to inputs. It hides menus to clean up the clutter but senses when your hand is close and brings them up again. The touch-capacitive buttons work well and send out a digital “click” sound when you press it, a nice bit of feedback to let you know you actually pushed a button, but the panel itself is a magnet for fingerprints.
How Would You Panamera?
The Sport Turismo holds 18.3 cubic feet (518 L) of cargo in the trunk and 49 (1,388 L) with the rear seats folded, which isn’t actually that much more than the regular Panamera’s 17.6 cu-ft (498 L) and 47.3 cu-ft (1,237 L) ratings. The wagon does, however, have a lower lift height and a bigger hatch opening that makes it easier to load larger items into the trunk. With the seats folded, we were able to fit a bicycle in the back without removing a wheel. The seats can be folded forward via switches in the trunk but need to be put back manually, which takes a lot of physical effort — they were heavy enough that I had to put my whole body into shoving them back into place. Not having a full electronic setup for the rear seats seems like an oversight, though it would add a lot more weight for something people might not use often enough to justify it.
The wagon is also billed as a five-seater, but the middle seat is essentially useless because a passenger would have a huge center tunnel to straddle.
Interestingly, the other dimensions for the two are exactly the same except for the height: The wagon is 0.3 inches (7.6 mm) taller, but I was surprised to see that the length and width were the exactly the same between the two models. I was more surprised to see that the run from zero to 60 mph is also exactly the same at 3.6 seconds (0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds), which is stupidly quick sports car territory in any case. I was somehow convinced that the wagon felt distinctively heavier than the sportback version and somehow a just a smidgen less agile. On the scales, the Panamera Turbo indeed weighs in at 88 pounds (40 kg) lighter than the wagon version.
The difference in top speed is barely worth mentioning: 188 mph (303 km/h) for the wagon and 190 mph (306 km/h) for the sportback. Same thing for fuel economy: the sportback Turbo is just 1 mpg combined (for 21 mpg) more efficient than the wagon.
In the U.S., the wagon version of the Panamera Turbo costs just $4,000 more than the regular one (it’s a $4,700 difference in Canada). When you’re spending about $200,000 on a Porsche with all the options you want, that’s a negligible difference, so whether you pick the wagon or the sportback version is entirely a stylistic choice — they’re far too similar otherwise to break the tie. I adore both, but the wagon gets bonus points for being different. The Sport Turismo also got way more attention on the road than a regular Panamera Turbo I drove not too long ago, although the wagon’s gorgeous shade of blue might have had something to do with that as well.
In the same vein, for the price of a Gucci fanny pack, I can get a more traditional bag that isn’t as controversial, but the fanny pack is a “lewk” and a bolder sartorial choice where a regular Gucci is just a Gucci — still, you can’t lose in either situation.
The Verdict: 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo Review
This is my call to all car or SUV people to wagon loud and proud. Wear that automotive fanny pack with pride and dare to blaze down a new road where being sexy and being practical are not mutually exclusive. The Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo is the business and it hits all the right notes for both Porsche lovers and wagon aficionados.
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