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Choosing a large German upper-luxury sedan used to be so simple. The ‘Big Three’ had it all sewn up with the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, and Merc S-Class.
So, Porsche is in there to challenge the Deutsche limo orthodoxy, and in an extra twist a couple of years ago the boffins in Zuffenhausen added a five-seat Sport Turismo wagon version of the current, second-generation car.
It offers a level of versatility and sporting personality the traditional players can’t match, and we spent a week with the recently released GTS version to see how it stacks up as a rapid executive express with a hint family practicality thrown in.
|Porsche Panamera 2020: GTS Sport Turismo|
|Engine Type||4.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The first generation Panamera, launched in 2010, suffered a Quasimodo-style hump at the rear of its roofline because then Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking demanded (late in the development process) the car’s back seat should comfortably accommodate his lanky frame.
Happily, saner heads prevailed in the development of the far sleeker second-gen car, and this Sport Turismo variant, previewed by a concept version way back in 2012, bears more than a passing resemblance to its iconic 911 sibling.
That’s a good thing, with the nose defined by large vents and a lip spoiler across its lower half with the now familiar tapered headlights housing Porsche’s signature ‘Four-Point’ LED DRLs with LED main beams standard on the GTS.
The Panamera Sport Turismo is quite upright along its the sides, with the inward slope of the side glass (car designers call it tumblehome) relatively slight.
Large air extraction vents behind the front wheel arches, with pronounced strakes running back from them, add a racy touch, with the car’s lines subtly transitioning into broad 911-like haunches at the rear. Fat dual exhausts sit either side of a broad diffuser.
The sweeping LED tail-light treatment is straight out Porsche’s current exterior design playbook, with the Sport Turismo’s steeply raked rear door topped by a curved aero piece, which in turn houses an extendable rear spoiler (which automatically deploys at 90km/h).
Standard rims are 20-inch alloys, but our test example wore a set of optional ($2770) 10-spoke ‘Exclusive Design’ 21s, which filled the wheelarches to capacity, and to my eyes anyway, looked the business.
The interior is familiar Porsche territory, again with a strong hint of 911. Parallel horizontal lines define the dash’s upper and lower edges, with a customisable 12.3-inch touch display screen neatly integrated in the centre.
The instrument display allows for a classic 911-style five dial arrangement, or multiple other layouts to be configured across two 7.0-inch 'freeform' screens sitting either side of a fixed analogue tachometer in the centre.
The delightfully grippy steering wheel has the same drive mode dial sprouting from the four o’clock position as the 911. The GTS-specific sports seats, with single piece backrest look and feel superb, and the standard of fit and finish throughout is hard to fault.
Porsche positions the Panamera Sport Turismo as a ‘4+1’, meaning it provides comfortable seating for four, with an occasional spot slotted into the centre of the rear seat (the standard Panamera is a four-seater).
There’s plenty of space for the front seat passengers, although the broad centre console enhances a cosy ‘cockpit’ feel.
There are two cupholders (L and XL) in the leading edge of the central armrest, with the flip-top lid beside them opening to reveal a medium-size storage box containing a 12-volt outlet, USB port and ‘aux-in’ jack.
This is supplemented by a small covered coin tray at the base of the centre console, a generous glove box and door bins with enough room at the front to hold a standard-size drink bottle.
The rear seats are as elegantly sculpted as the fronts, except for the squeezy centre position, and there’s plenty of leg and headroom on offer (cop that Wendelin Wiedeking).
Two big cupholders reside in the fold-down centre armrest, there are map pockets on the back of the front seats, but this time around the door pockets are modest and even small bottles are a no-go.
Back seaters are furnished with individual rear seat controls and adjustable vents in the door apertures and centre console as part of the four-zone climate control system. Very civilised.
Despite the wagon rear end luggage space with rear seats up is decent rather than cavernous at 520 litres (VDA). But drop the 40/20/40 split-folding backrest and you’ll have 1390 litres at your disposal.
Tie-down hooks at each corner, an additional 12-volt outlet and bright lighting are provided. But don’t bother looking for a spare tyre, a repair/inflator kit is your only option.
For those keen on towing, the Panamera GTS Sport Turismo is okay to haul a 2200kg braked trailer and 750kg unbraked.
If you’re aiming up at the world’s luxury heavyweights, you’d better bring you’re A-game in terms of standard equipment, and the GTS Sport Turismo doesn’t disappoint.
We talked about this car challenging the Deutsche limo orthodoxy, and tagged at $371,400, before on-road costs, Porsche’s bahn-storming wagon puts $160k on Audi’s A8 55 TSI quattro LWB ($210,000), and $100k on BMW’s 7 Series flagship, the 50i xDrive M-Sport ($272,900).
So, aside from the performance-focused powertrain and on-board safety tech (covered in later sections), the GTS Sport Turismo features, full leather and Alcantara trim (the latter covering the door armrests, sun visors, headliner, as well as the A-, B- and C-pillars), heated multifunction sports steering wheel (with gear-change paddles), ‘Connect Plus’ (phone SIM card reader, wireless internet, Porsche apps and services), the digital Porsche ‘Advanced Cockpit’ (twin 7.0-inch screens), adaptive cruise control, adaptive, electric 18-way sports seats with memory, an electronic tailgate (with foot swipe ‘Comfort Access’ function), a 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen running the configurable ‘Porsche Communication Management’ (PCM) system (including online navigation, audio, and more). The surround sound audio system features 14-speakers with digital radio as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Also included are auto LED auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry and start, a panoramic sunroof, four-zone climate control, the ‘Sport Chrono’ package (launch control, four driving modes, ‘Porsche Active Suspension Management’), adaptive air suspension, and ‘4D Chassis Control’ (fine-tuning longitudinal, lateral and vertical dynamics). That’s plenty of fruit, and so it should be for the money.
Twin-turbo V8s are flavour of the decade for German hi-po engine boffins, with the Panamera GTS Sport Turismo’s 4.0-litre unit (also used in Audi’s RS6) matching Merc-AMG’s 4.0-litre V8 and BMW M’s 4.4-litre designs.
The GTS’s all-alloy, 90-degree V8 features direct-injection and ‘VarioCam Plus’ with adaptive cylinder control, incorporating variable camshaft timing on the inlet and exhaust side. Outputs are 338kW from 6000-6500rpm and 620Nm across a wide band between 1800-4500rpm.
Central location of the twin-scroll counter-rotating turbos in the inner ‘hot V’ (between the cylinder banks) optimises packaging and improves throttle response by shortening shortens the length of the exhaust plumbing to the turbos and the distance compressed air travels back to the intake side of the engine.
Iron coating of the cylinder linings and a chrome nitrite finish on the piston rings is claimed to improve durability and reduce oil consumption by up to 50 per cent compared to Porsche’s previous 4.8-litre naturally aspirated V8.
Drive goes through an eight-speed ‘PDK’ dual-clutch auto transmission to all four wheels, with an active, electronically regulated drive system managing a multi-plate clutch pack to vary torque distribution between the front and rear axles.
Claimed fuel economy for the combined cycle is 10.6L/100km, the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 emitting 242g/km of CO2 in the process.
Over roughly 300km of city, suburban and freeway driving we recorded an average of 12.4L/100km (at the bowser) which isn’t exactly frugal, but still impressive for a 2.0-tonne high-performance GT.
Auto stop-start and cylinder deactivation are standard, minimum fuel requirement is 98 RON premium unleaded, and you’ll need 90 litres of it to fill the tank.
Some key facts to establish context here. The Panamera GTS Sport Turismo weighs 2025kg, measures just over 5.0m long, and is powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 producing 338kW/620Nm.
Despite such considerable size and weight, that’s enough motive force to thrust it from 0-100km/h in 4.1sec, 0-200km/h in 15.4sec, and on to a maximum velocity of 289km/h. Which is crazy fast, as any good Porsche should be.
Less a torque curve, and more a torque right-angle, pulling power climbs in near vertical fashion to its maximum at just 1800rpm, remaining as flat as a billiard table all the way to 4500rpm. Which means mid-range punch is monumental. Squeeze the accelerator at just about any speed and your back will be firmly shoved into the Alcantara and leather-clad sports driver’s seat with a satisfyingly guttural engine and exhaust accompaniment.
The eight-speed dual-clutch auto does nothing do diminish Porsche’s reputation for producing positive and ultra-quick-shifting transmissions, with manual mode inducing all kinds of wannabe F1 driver fantasies.
More than echoing the 911’s looks, this Panamera comes up with a convincing dynamic impersonation, as well. The GTS’s sports chassis is lowered by 10mm, and the standard Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system and ‘Adaptive Air Suspension’ offer a broad choice of driving personality.
Despite the big 21-inch rims, shod with Z-rated Pirelli P Zero rubber (275/35 fr - 315/30 rr) the comfort setting is just that, sitting at the cushy but still controlled and well damped end of the suspension spectrum.
Dial things into the performance-focused settings and the double wishbone front, multi-link rear set-up is transformed into a taut and even more responsive arrangement, which combines perfectly with the quick, yet feelsome and progressive electromechanical steering.
The all-wheel drive system helps the car put its power down brilliantly well, front to rear distribution happening continuously and seamlessly.
As you’d imagine the brakes are immense, with vented discs all around (390mm fr - 365mm rr) clamped by chunky six-piston calipers at the front and four-piston units at the back. The pedal is firm without overdoing the resistance, and stopping power is strong.
Ergonomic are spot-on, the standard digital ‘Porsche Advanced Cockpit’ is brilliant, as is the configurable media screen, and the audio system is superb..
3 years / unlimited km warranty
The Panamera hasn’t been assessed by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, but its outstanding dynamics go a long way towards avoiding a crash, and the GTS boasts an impressive portfolio of active safety tech.
You’ll also pick up a reversing camera, ‘Parking Distance Control’ (front and rear) and a tyre pressure monitoring system. Worth noting our car was fitted with ‘Lane Change Assist’ ($1890) and the ‘Night Vision Assist’ thermal imaging system ($5890).
But if all that fails to prevent a crash the airbag count runs to eight (dual front, dual front side, curtain and knee bags for the driver and front passenger).
An active bonnet helps minimise pedestrian injuries and there are three top tether points for child seats/baby capsules across the rear seat with ISOFIX anchors in the two outer positions.
The Australian Porsche range is covered by a three year/unlimited km warranty, which, like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz lags behind the mainstream market where the majority of players are now at five years/unlimited km, with some at seven years.
But a 12-year (unlimited km) anti-corrosion warranty is included, as is twenty-four-hour roadside assistance, renewed every time you service your car at an authorised Porsche centre.
The main service interval is 12 months/15,000km, and no capped price servicing is available with final costs determined at the dealer level (in line with variable labour costs by state/territory).
Big bucks are rewarded with a car that feels surer of its purpose in life. As the Gran Turismo Sport name implies, the Porsche Panamera GTS Sport Turismo can deliver refined, rapid cruising, or a maximum-attack backroad blast, combined with seating for five, wagon flexibility and top shelf quality. Niche filled.
|(base)||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$175,000 – 221,100||2020 Porsche Panamera 2020 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|10 Years Edition||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$189,600 – 239,690||2020 Porsche Panamera 2020 10 Years Edition Pricing and Specs|
|4||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$183,000 – 231,550||2020 Porsche Panamera 2020 4 Pricing and Specs|
|4 E-Hybrid||2.9L, Hyb/PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$201,600 – 254,870||2020 Porsche Panamera 2020 4 E-Hybrid Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||9|