The Panamera Sport Turismo GTS is a freaking V8 turbo Porsche station wagon. Even if you’re just mildly into cars, that description alone should have you fired right up. I will say, this car is not exactly what I expected, but it is pretty fresh.
(Full Disclosure: One of Porsche’s reps said I could borrow any vehicle from a list, this seemed like the coolest option. It was dropped off at my house with a full tank of gas.)
I’d never even been in any Panamera until I got to check out this one. But I think that’s OK, because if you’ve never really been into the Panamera yourself, in general, this is a good one to get hooked on. Especially in Mamba Green.
The car’s so slippery it looks alive. It’s fast–what a surprise–and supremely comfortable. Once you’re installed in the cockpit, the firm seats have a claw-like grip on you with their bolsters, and you’re hunkered down deep below a high beltline like Baby Yoda in his floating bassinet.
The Panamera Sport Turismo, which I will occasionally refer to as “PST” to save precious pixel ink, gives you extreme power that’s extremely accessible. And a uniquely sharp flavor of luxury. The exterior design, if you’re a fan of both Porsches and practical cars, is flawless.
The PST is the answer to a question nobody asked: How low and long can we make a Porsche and have it still look cool?
A Panamera 4 Sport Turismo, the cheap option, (hah), rings up at $98,000 and claims 330 horsepower from a turbo V6. At the top of the heap, I thought, was the $157,000 Turbo has a twin-turbo V8 belting out a claimed 550 HP. But after initially writing that, a colleague reminded me that the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is also a thing. With 677 HP and a $191,700 price tag.
Anyway, the PST GTS, like the green car you’re looking at here, starts at $135,500 and also has a twin-turbo V8 with a more modest output claim of 453 HP and 457 lb-ft of torque.
If you can resist the temptation to go-full boost every five minutes, the car can supposedly hit 22 mpg on the highway. Variable-ratio electromechanical steering connects the helm to the front wheels, top speed is posted at 179 mph, and with the Sport Chrono Package, the GTS is supposed to be able to hit 60 mph in under four seconds.
Honestly, it feels like less.
The long, slithery Sport Turismo measures out to 198.9 inches in overall length with a posted curb weight of 4,606 pounds. That makes it just a tiny bit longer than Mercedes-AMG’s V8 superwagon (the E63 S; 197.1 inches long) and a mite lighter–the Merc spec sheet puts the E-Class curb weight at 4,669 pounds. But it’s also more powerful with 603 HP.
The PST’s only other real rival in the U.S. would be Audi’s RS 6 Avant, which is similar in output to the Mercedes with just shy of 600 HP. Also, Audi’s wagon is supposedly a scant 4,575 pounds and 196.7 inches long.
But the Porsche, significantly, is the lowest of that trio. Its height is posted at 56 inches. The Mercedes and Audi are 58 and 58.5, respectively. So it makes sense that the Sport Turismo’s aesthetic is the sleekest.
I felt like an elite pilot in a spaceship behind the wheel of this thing. And not just in a “yeah, wow, brand-new 100,000-dollar cars feel fancy” kind of way. The PST’s cockpit design very deliberately encloses the driver. Maybe “bobsled” is a better analogy than “spaceship.” But the weight and definitiveness of pulling the door shut and working the steering wheel provides a strong aura of importance to everything this car does.
The only place I was let down in that line of thinking was when I went to hit buttons on the center console. Porsche, recently, had the console of all its cars just bristling with tiny little clickers and switches. This car ditches that for one flat plane. I think the idea was to make hard keys feel more like a smartphone screen. The execution leaves a lot to be desired. Pushing anything requires an awkward effort, and the whole panel moves when you click anything. That dinged the feeling of futurism for me.
But such frustrations melt away quickly because the seats are so exceptionally comfortable. And the power, well, the power comes on strong and does not quit.
In the time I’ve been writing this, I’ve realized why I wanted to call this car a bobsled and a spaceship. It feels like something that’s both: It feels like the Space Mountain ride at Disney Land. The PST just launches and soars and slices and dices its way toward the horizon without the slightest hint of slip or instability.
Unless you’re willing to scoot around at 200 percent of the speed limit, you’ll be very hard-pressed to upset this thing. Confidence abounds; the Panamera Sport Turismo puts driving on a very easy difficulty setting.
But at the risk of outing myself as a slowpoke, the fun-factor of canyon carving in this car suffers from its supreme competence. The vehicle is so planted and well-behaved that, once you’ve built momentum, it can be hard to tell if you’re going 30 or 60 or 95 mph.
The Sport Turismo looks fast and unique but, somehow, still modest. It’s also extremely futuristic without straying too far from Porsche’s signature swollen fenders. It is, without a doubt, one of the best looking new cars in 2020.
I also love how smooth and strong it feels cutting its way through traffic around town. But the reassuringly firm grip of the seats, which lock you in like the safety bars on that theme park ride I mentioned earlier, might be my favorite feature.
The whole cockpit almost feels more like something you’re wearing than sitting in, which is a wild thing to think about a station wagon.
I hate the buttoning on the center console. I hate it so much. Porsche took a nice, timeless button system and ditched it for what feels like something you’d find in an eBay home electronics kit. The haptic feedback lives in an uncanny valley between “it’s a touchscreen” and “all the buttons are one giant button” and I mostly avoided messing with it because it grossed me out.
I didn’t do a very good job though, because it was freckled in my fingerprints a few days after I collected the car. The plastic had also gotten pretty scratched up in the few thousand miles this Mamba Green GTS had been in press fleet service.
I also had accessibility issues with the seat controls. Every time I opened the door, the driver’s seat would revert to a position I didn’t like, despite (I thought) reprogramming it and resetting it several times. Obviously, I was doing something wrong. But I shouldn’t have had so much trouble.
As far as the actual drive experience goes, besides the abstract callousness of the car’s personality, the only glaring weak spot that fezzed me up was the start/stop functionality.
My Panamera test car would stammer to a stop before the car actually came to a complete halt, consistently, making it abruptly quit and turning my ultra-smooth limo stops jarring. Annoying at best, potentially dangerous at worst.
Jaguar might have coined the “grace, space, and pace” tagline but I don’t think anything on the road right now is embodying that triad of concepts better than the Panamera Sport Turismo.
It’s ravishingly beautiful in a very traditional sense, there’s loads of room for whatever inside, and the car’s speed is only limited by its driver’s bravery.
I expected this car to be fun to fling around corners, like most other Porsches I’ve been lucky enough to drive, but that’s not really the case. This GTS wants to fearlessly cut its way through traffic, or slink around at causal speeds with a lot of performance headroom should you suddenly feel the urge to blast off into space. In other words: A lot more luxury than sport, but uniquely sharp in its cushiness.
- The world needs more green cars
- I really hope Porsche recommits to physical gauges. The company does cockpits so well, it’d be a shame if they all evolved into panes of semi-opaque plastic
- I loved driving this car, but I don’t really miss it
- Shoutout to JBH for these unique night photos