Range Rover Sport 2018 review: SVR
If you like your luxury SUVs loud, fast and fantastically fun, then Land Rover Sport's SVR is your cup of supercharged tea.
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I do love a wagon. They say to anyone who wants to listen that the person who shops for a wagon isn't a conformist. "I could have gotten an SUV, yes," owners can smile smugly. "But I didn't want one. I wanted a wagon."
And that same justification could easily be made for anyone who decides to choose a Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo. The all-new station wagon is the first such example from the Stuttgart sports-car specialist, and it definitely adds a new dimension to the Porsche portfolio.
Yes, you could buy a Cayenne - and the new third-generation model is more high-tech than ever. Plus it's more affordable. But if you bought a Cayenne, you'd be just like everyone else in that part of the market.
But it's more than just Not An SUV. The Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo has a lot of other strings to its rather expensive bow - and particularly the baller Turbo model we tested.
Allow me to explain...
|Porsche Panamera 2018: TURBO SPORT TURISMO|
|Engine Type||4.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
You know what's interesting about its design? It doesn't appeal from all angles. In my opinion, a lot of station wagons from luxury brands are aesthetically pleasing no matter where you're standing. But the Panamera Sport Turismo can be a little jarring if you're looking at it from directly side-on, or just off to the side.
In fact, I had some friends say it was 'ugly', 'too big', and that it looked 'just like a Macan'. You can make up your own mind about it, but there are some clear Porsche design traits that are undeniably pretty; the eyes-open headlights with their dazzling four-dot LED daytime running lights, and a sleeker front end than we've come to know from the Panamera in generations past.
The rear end is quite fetching from a low angle, but if you're standing up straight it looks a bit flabby, with the love-handles above its rear wheel arches not really offering the most loveable look. The back sits up quite high, giving it a hobbling sort of appearance. And this isn't a car that hobbles, it's one that hustles.
All that said, I still like the look of it. It's not as cohesive as some of the brand's other designs, but it certainly has some nice elements.
The interior has an almost Audi-like execution, with a technical, minimalist design that is both clean and crisp, but also a bit austere and emotionless in the way our test car was fitted out.
But thankfully there are multiple different trim options you can choose from (12 just for the seats and dash/head lining, and that's before you choose inlays and finishes). I'd probably go for something like the Paldao interior pack ($2990), which offers up a tremendous wood-trim look. Yeah, I'm advocating wood trim, and I'm 33 years old. Combined it with the two-tone black and 'Saddle Brown'-finish fabrics, and you've got a classy, luxurious interior with a bit of character.
Don't believe me? Go have a look at the Porsche configurator.
The Panamera Sport Turismo is no longer than the regular five-door Panamera liftback model, spanning 5049mm long (on the same 2950mm wheelbase) and 1937mm long, but, at 1432mm tall, it is a little taller thanks to its wagon backside.
But because of its slightly hunchback appearance, the Sport Turismo model adds a fair bit more boot capacity, with the luggage hold capable of 520 litres, which is 25 litres more than the regular Panamera. That's not massive for a station wagon with these dimensions, but it is respectable, and there's undoubtedly enough capacity for a weekend's worth of luggage for a family. A pram or pushbike could fit easily enough, too.
There is no spare tyre, though, only a puncture repair kit hidden under the floor.
As for backseat space, a couple of six-foot adults will be able to sit behind similarly sized humans up front without too much stress, and you could fit three abreast if you needed to (though the centre console section eats into middle seat space significantly). Porsche even goes so far as to call the Panamera Sport Turismo a 4+1 seater.
There are nice touches, such as solid map pockets, decent door pockets, a pair of cupholders in a flip-down armrest, and rear dual-zone climate control (making it a quad-zone system in total), but Porsche is taking the proverbial by asking $790 for a rear USB port.
Up front, there are two unevenly sized cupholders between the front seats (which eat into your arm space a tad), and a small covered section ahead of that for your keys. The cupholders sit alongside a covered centre armrest, which is a good size for wallets, phones and devices. The door pockets up front are decent, but not huge.
The driver-info display is split, with five focal points - two screens on the left, a central analogue tachometer, and two more digital circles on the right. But you can configure it so 40 per cent (or so) of the entire dash consists of a map screen.
The central media screen is a huge 12.3-inch unit with a nice crisp display, and while there are menus upon menus to choose from, things are easy enough to come to grips with. There's Apple CarPlay (which, oddly, doesn't format to fit the whole screen, instead taking up about 60 percent of the display) and sat nav, and Porsche's new Connect Plus package means you can link your smartphone to the car and access things like the calendar, contacts and even get navigation instructions in pictures.
On the whole, it's more practical than plenty of SUVs, but it's not as practical as some station wagons of this size.
There are five models to choose from in the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo 2018 range, and a quick glance at the price list shows there is a fairly hefty premium for the wagon version over its liftback/sedan equivalent. It's about $6000, in fact.
Opening the Panamera Sport Turismo range is the 4 model, which kicks off at $232,500 plus on roads. It's followed by the plug-in petrol-electric Panamera 4 E-Hybrid at $255,800 plus on roads. The mid-point in the line-up (and the top dog of the six-cylinder range) is the Panamera 4S, which lists at $317,800 plus on roads.
The Turbo model tested here lists at $390,700 plus on-road costs... and even at that astronomical price it's not the most expensive version in the range. The newly added flagship Turbo S E-Hybrid model takes that honour at a huge $466,400 before on roads. The 2017 model range had a diesel version, but it has already been dropped from the line-up.
Standard equipment across the model range includes adaptive air suspension, an adaptive rear spoiler, LED daytime running lights, LED headlights (adaptive on top spec), auto wipers, auto lights, auto dimming mirrors (inside and out) and LED tail-lights. Wheels start at 19-inch in size, and work their way up based on models - our car had 21-inch optional rims on it, where usually it would be on 20s.
Inside all Panamera models you'll find quad-zone climate control, 14-way power adjustable front seats with memory settings (for seats, side mirrors and steering column), front seat heating, and a 40:20:40 split-fold rear seat. The Turbo model we had included rear-seat heating, which it gets as standard.
There's Comfort Access (keyless entry), but rather than a push-button starter, Porsche still uses a fob twist. All models come with an electric tailgate, and what Porsche calls its "continuously adjustable door brake". Essentially, there are no steps to the way the door opens, a bit like a Mercedes S-Class.
The media screen is hooked up to a 14-speaker Bose stereo with subwoofer, and the system has a wi-fi hotspot. There are two USB ports and a 12-volt socket up front.
Read the safety section below for a full rundown on the standard kit in the Panamera Sport Turismo line-up.
There are 11 colours to choose from at no extra cost (nine metallic, two solid), plus three 'Special Colour' options including the one you see here, Crayon, which is priced at a not-unsubstantial $8290. If there's a particular colour you simply must have, Porsche will mirror it if you provide a sample, which will cost you $16,990.
Buyers of competitor cars could consider the Audi RS6 Avant (from $248,726)... and that's about it. To follow the market, you might consider a Range Rover Sport SVR (from $238,200), or perhaps the new-generation Porsche Cayenne Turbo, which uses the same drivetrain and is similarly equipped, and will cost you 'just' $239,400, which is a relative bargain.
We're focusing in on the Turbo model, which features a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine with a huge 404kW of power (5750-6000rpm) and a thumping 770Nm of torque (1960-4500rpm). Huge outputs, but could do with a huger amount of noise - it's a bit quiet for a twin-turbo V8. Thankfully the performance makes up for it.
It is all-wheel drive, with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (known as Porsche Doppelkuplung, or PDK). Of course it has a sport mode and paddleshifters, and I actually didn't realise it was a PDK, because it's absolutely terrific. More on that below...
The official claimed fuel-use figure for the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo is 9.4 litres per 100 kilometres, which is not as optimistic as you might think for a mad wagon like this.
Over our time with the car, which included some spirited driving, highway cruising and everyday tootling in traffic, we saw a decent return of 13.1L/100km. Still thirsty, but hey, if you can afford this much for the car, are you going to be worried about fuel costs?
No surprises here; the Turbo version of the Sport Turismo is manically fast.
If you leave it to its own devices in Sport Plus mode and you will likely find you can get the most out of it. The transmission does a stupendous job of harnessing the outputs of the drivetrain (there's no doubt that having quick-shifting paddleshifters is welcome, but I found it did its best work on its own).
Even in its most hardcore mode, the traction control system can be a little too overbearing as the variable all-wheel drive system shuffles drive between the front and rear axles. In tight, twisty corners, it can feel its size as a result.
But as good as all-wheel drive traction is, and as fun as it is to play in corners, it's straights that show just how potent this car is. With so much torque available, it gathers pace with phenomenal ease, and if you aren't paying attention you'll be over the speed limit within about four seconds. The claimed 0-100km/h time for this spec is just 3.8 seconds, after all.
The general ambience is really impressive, with hardly any wind or road noise intrusion.
The engine sounds terrific - it's a V8 - but even though our car had the optional sports exhaust system ($7650 later, mind you...), the noise just wasn't loud enough. I took that as a bit of a mark of intent for this new Panamera; even if the invite to the party says 'smart casual', it'll be wearing a three-piece suit with a pocket square.
It isn't only the exhaust that's quiet. The general ambience is really impressive, with hardly any wind or road noise intrusion, even riding on the optional ($8070) 21-inch wheels our test car had.
The standard air suspension has both a pros column, and one for cons. The pros include a luxury limousine-beating level of ride comfort on the open road and even on broken, patchy road surfaces away from town. The cons include a slightly wobbly level of body control if you're pushing its buttons in the bends.
My biggest concern about the drive experience, though, was the brakes. In hard driving they felt surprisingly soft underfoot, and they didn't offer the best or most trustable stopping performance. Those shortcomings were all the more alarming given the fronts are 410mm with six-piston calipers, while the rear has 380mm discs with four-piston calipers. Sure, it's a big car and it weighs about two tonnes (1977kg tare mass) but with brakes that big I expected better stopping.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
The Panamera range hasn't been rated for crash-test safety by ANCAP or EuroNCAP, so we can't really tip our hat to its inherent crashworthiness. But it does come decently kitted with safety equipment.
All Panamera models have a surround-view camera, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, as well as adaptive cruise control, AEB (auto emergency braking) and the usual suspects like ABS, brake assist, ESC (electronic stability control), traction control, and tyre pressure monitoring. The Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo has lane-keeping assist, lane-change assist and light steering assist included, too.
There are 10 airbags fitted (dual front, dual front knee, dual front side, dual rear side, full-length curtain). Plus the Panamera has an active bonnet system to minimise pedestrian injuries in the event of an accident.
Dual ISOFIX child-seat anchors are fitted, plus there are three top-tether attachments, too.
Porsche offers a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. That's about on-par with the majority of luxury car makers, but Tesla recently announced a mammoth eight-year/160,000km plan. So the mainstay premium car makers are a bit behind.
Porsche only backs its cars with a three-year paint warranty (some mainstream brands offer more than double that - and many of the paint options are very costly at Porsche...), but there's a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.
Buyers have access to a roadside assist program which is included at the point of purchase and renews every time you service the car. Maintenance is due every 12 months/15,000km, but there's no capped-price or pre-purchase program for servicing.
The Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo is an intriguing alternative to the go-to choice in the luxury car segment. Because it's not an SUV, it offers some really likeable traits. But at this price point, you'd have to really want a wagon to ignore the valuable alternative that the Cayenne presents.
As fast as this Turbo model is, and as alluring as telling your friends and neighbours "I bought the Turbo" is, I'd be more tempted to assess the value equation at the entry point to the range. In short, the Panamera 4 is ultimately more appealing. And if money wasn't an issue, maybe I'd get myself a 718 Cayman or 718 Boxster as well.
|(base)||3.0L, PULP||$184,800 – 212,410||2018 PORSCHE PANAMERA 2018 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|4||3.0L, PULP||$193,820 – 222,750||2018 PORSCHE PANAMERA 2018 4 Pricing and Specs|
|4 E-HYBRID||2.9L, Hyb/PULP||$214,280 – 246,290||2018 PORSCHE PANAMERA 2018 4 E-HYBRID Pricing and Specs|
|4S||2.9L, PULP||$267,300 – 307,230||2018 PORSCHE PANAMERA 2018 4S Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||6|
|Engine & trans||9|