2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo Group Review: Where Station Wagon Meets Supercar

Porsche's 550-horsepower, all-wheel-drive wagon is both luxury car and sports car...with a pricetag to match. 

Two of The Drive’s editors—Will Sabel Courtney and Josh Condonrecently spent time with the 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo. They discussed the finer merits and detractors of this super-speedy station wagon via Slack, an instant message program with a fun ability to summon random gifs based on what users type. The following is a partial transcript of that conversation.

Oh, and one addendum: In response to reader requests from past Group Reviews, we've added a feature we're calling "After-the-Fact Check," where we've gone back and added tech specs and the like where appropriate to the conversation. They're not hard to spot.

willscourtney
So, how about that Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo?
It of the awkwardly long name.

josh
When I got out of it, my first thought was to tell everyone else they could stop making cars, now. Porsche got this.

willscourtney
Really? You were that blown away.

josh
I loved it. I just loved it. It's two fistfuls of stupidly expensive overkill, and I mean that as a compliment. First, it's pretty unique on the market.

willscourtney
"pretty unique"

josh
I mean, depends on how you look at it. It's a $175,000 station wagon.
OR
It's a monster sports car with crazy amounts of utility. Like the Ferrari FF, but way more usable.

willscourtney
That was my ultimate takeaway. It's basically an entry-level supercar, a small crossover, and a luxury sedan, all in one. Three cars for the price of three.

Porsche

josh
Yeah, exactly. Well put. Though I feel like you're insulting it by calling it a small crossover. Because it's better than that: It's a wagon. Which means it's prettier than a small crossover, and more functional to boot.

willscourtney
I think of it as analogous to a small crossover because a) that's kinda become the standard for two-box passenger vehicles nowadays, and b) it has AWD, whereas most small hatchbacks and wagons don't. But yeah, you're technically correct.

josh
There's no such thing as a small wagon anymore. Not in this country.

willscourtney
/giphy pour one out

GIPHY


josh
/giphy no country for old men

GIPHY




josh
Okay, let's just talk about the price. Because we're going to.

willscourtney
Yeah. $175,170 out the door. Base price of $155K. So, by Porsche standards...ours was lightly optioned?

[After-the-Fact Check: The base price of the 2018 Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo is $155,050 with destination. The regular Panamera Turbo starts at $4,000 less.]

josh
At this point I feel like you have to add $20K to the price of any Porsche automatically, or you're going to drive off the dealer lot and realize the car doesn't have floor mats or door handles or something.

willscourtney
"Why isn't it moving?" "Oh, you didn't check the box for the driveshaft. That's an extra $15,000."

josh
/giphy accurate

GIPHY


willscourtney
Still, there weren't many options I'd leave off our tester. Assuming I was already dropping mad of coin on a Porsche station wagon.

josh
Right. That's kind of unique to Porsche, too; I rarely sit in a Porsche and think, "That's stupid, don't need that. That's stupid, don't need that." Whereas with other German luxury brands, I do. A lot.

willscourtney
I could have done without...
(checks window sticker)
...the sunblinds for the rear windows. Let those backseat fools be blinded.

josh
I mean, I never like carbon fiber interiors for everyday cars. But I actually loved the backseat blinds. Do you remember what a fucking pain in the ass it was when you were a kid and the sun was baking you like a popover? That sucked. Modern technology can solve that very solvable problem—I say worth it. Now let me check the price...$490. Huh. Not bad.

josh
Only, like, 100 percent more than I'd want to pay.

willscourtney
Or you could buy a baseball cap for $10.

Porsche

willscourtney
Speaking of the interior. I'd like to get one beef out of the way, so I can go on to extolling this car as it deserves to be spoken of.

josh
No carbon fiber, right. Dumb choice—agreed.

willscourtney
Actually, I didn't hate that. Wouldn't be my choice, but it worked here.

josh
No.

willscourtney
No, it's this new infotainment setup with all the hard buttons in a giant sheet of shiny black plastic.

[After-the-Fact Check: The new generation of Porsche Communication Management, or PCM, was unveiled on the second-generation Panamera in 2016. It uses touch-sensitive panels with haptic feedback.]

josh
BUT IT LOOKS SO PRETTY.

willscourtney
It, for lack of a better term, sucks.

josh
BUT IT LOOKS SO PRETTY.

willscourtney
You have to look down EVERY DAMN TIME when you want to press a button.

josh
Yeah, I love the way they look—it's the hot new design now, so I've seen a few cars with similar set-ups—but they're not there yet.

willscourtney
And the glossiness means it reflects all the sunlight, making it take twice as long to figure out what button you need.

josh
The Porsche example and every other example I tried is about 60 percent functional. Lots of design flaws, like the glare you mentioned. Lots of UX issues. Lots of pushing "buttons" that don't respond.

willscourtney
Yup. And I get the appeal of it. It's fashionable, tech-forward, and lets you cram more features into a smaller space.

josh
And it's so sleek. It looks like the future.

willscourtney
But it's arguably irresponsible to make drivers look away from the road for as long as they have to in order to use 'em.

josh
Arguably how? It's plain dumb.

willscourtney
Fair point.
/giphy strike that from the record

GIPHY


josh
But we've been bitching about that for a long time now, and frankly the same issues can happen with too many regular buttons or dials. I get all worked up about the distraction question, but I think what mostly happens is that people figure out the four functions they use and can work them all after two weeks.

willscourtney
It is one of those things that's a very specific auto journalist gripe. If you're not in and out of 100 cars a year, you probably wouldn't think about it.

josh
Also, I'd much rather talk about a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8.

willscourtney
Yes. Fuck yes. Because that should be the name of that engine. The 4.0-liter twin-turbo "Fuck Yes" V-8.

[After-the-Fact Check: The Panamera Turbo's 4.0-liter V-8 makes 550 horsepower from 5,750–6,000 rpm, and 567 pound-feet of torque from 1,960–4,500 rpm. It redlines at 6,800 rpm. All Panamera Turbos are also equipped with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and a full-time all-wheel-drive system.]



josh
The overall sensation of acceleration felt physically violent. It was like being inside of a punch.

willscourtney
Did you use launch control?

josh
Nope. That was just on the highway.

willscourtney
Too bad. LC literally bounced my head off the backstop every damn time. Like you said, physically violent.

josh
I can see that. Porsche does a particularly excellent launch control. And with that amount of weight...

willscourtney
It revs to about 5,000 rpm. Sounds delightful. Then...BOOM.
0 to 60 in about three flat. In a friggin' station wagon.

[After-the-Fact Check: While Porsche claims a 0-60 mph time of 3.6 seconds for the Turbo and Turbo Sport Turismo alike, in Car and Driver testing, the Turbo sedan turned in a 3.0-second 0-60 run.]

josh
A large one, at that.
What did you think about the design? Exterior?

willscourtney
It was better than the sum of its parts. Some of the individual angles and pieces looked awkward - the wheels were too big from some views, the hips seemed kinda dorky when you looked back along the flanks. But somehow, put it all together, and it looked spectacular. Especially the rear 3/4.

josh
Same. Rear 3/4 and the profile are straight sexy, but walking around the car some of the angles would hit me like a fart.

willscourtney
/giphy sudden fart

GIPHY


josh
HOWEVER
It's a Porsche station wagon. I actually don't care, because it's unique. I mean, you could think of unicorn as just a deformed horse...

willscourtney
Very true. People should buy this just to encourage Porsche to keep making it. And thus encourage other carmakers to make stupid-fast wagons and sell them here. I want my Aston Martin Rapide S wagon, damnit.

josh
What's the competition, even? I'm drawing a blank. E63 AMG, I guess?

willscourtney
Yeah. That was the car that stuck in my craw the whole time I drove the Panny.

josh
Jag makes a wagon, but anything with near as much power?

willscourtney
Nope. It's basically just the E63 on these shores. There's the B5 Alpina wagon overseas, I believe.

josh
/giphy Who gives a shit

GIPHY


willscourtney
Oh—and the Audi RS 7 Performance, as Lawrence pointed out. But that thing's old as hell at this point.

josh
Ah. That one I haven't driven. But he raves about it, says it might be even bigger inside, and is, what...$50K less, or something?

willscourtney
About that, yeah. As is the E63 S wagon. You could buy either of those AND a CPO Boxster with less than 10K miles for the cost of this Turbo Porker.

[After-the-Fact Check: The Mercedes-AMG E63 S wagon starts at $107,945; the Audi RS 7 Performance starts at $131,675.]

josh
Well, then they're categorically different. That's a whole different price range.

willscourtney
/giphy interesting argument

GIPHY


josh
It is. I don't think you can throw the whole, "Well, if you're spending that kind of money..." It's almost half again the price of the Merc or Audi.

willscourtney
True, but I also feel like once you enter that rarefied price realm of $100K-plus cars, people are more likely to cross-shop over a wider range of possibilities. It's as much about the brand as it is the price. And many folks probably see all three as pretty equal.

josh 
Maybe. I'm not convinced.

willscourtney
I'd be curious to actually talk to Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo buyers and see what else they considered. Though it'd probably be some weird shit.

josh
If you don't see the difference between $115K and, say, $170K, then this is your fifth car.

willscourtney
"I almost bought a Durango SRT, but instead I got a Panamera Turbo"

josh
Actually, I bet it is weird shit.

willscourtney
Just people who don't give a fuck about money. Which we all wish we could be.

josh
Rich people tend very much to give a fuck about money. Stupid people don't. And some stupid people are also rich. For now.

Porsche

willscourtney
Back to the car for a moment: I did want to talk about its handling characteristics.

josh
Please, tell me about them. I had it for an interstate blast.

willscourtney
Specifically, the Hogwarts graduate employment program that Porsche gets their chassis guys and gals from. Because there has to be magic involved in this thing. It tracks so flat, stays so even-keeled, sticks through turns like...
...well, like a Porsche. It drives like a 911 with a bit more weight.

josh
If you put someone in the passenger seat, blindfolded, and put the car through some paces, do you think the passenger would tell it was a station wagon?

willscourtney
I don't think they'd realize it's a car. "Where did you learn to fly an F-111?"

[After-the-Fact Check: The General Dynamics F111 Aardvark was a two-seat fighter jet with an unusual side-by-side seating arrangement and a top speed of Mach 2.5.]

josh
/giphy I just shit my pants

GIPHY


willscourtney
That's not shitting.
Nobody would expect a station wagon—or a sedan—to perform like that. Which is the magic of this day and age. We have five, six, seven, or more four-doors out there on sale that drive like (slightly heavy) sports cars but fit four people in comfort. That's pretty damn incredible.

josh
Okay, so here's the interesting question: If you can get the E63 AMG for $50K less, and you're not a Porsche fanboy, why get the Porsche?

willscourtney
I'd argue "the Porsche magic," but that kinda sounds like the former category's argument. The Porsche does handle better, though. It has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi about it, as well. It looks more exotic than the E63, which, while more badass in appearance, is a much more traditional wagon shape. We car nerds dig the sleeper aspect. Many folks don't.

josh
Sure, but in terms of how you can drive it every day it's probably, what, 95 percent of the Porsche in terms of raw feel?

willscourtney
Maybe. But the Porsche also has a delicacy to its dynamics that you can appreciate at everyday speeds. It feels nimbler in the real world. Just a touch, but it's there.
If it were me, I'd go for the E63 wagon and the CPO Boxster. But every time a Panamera Sport Turismo drove past, I'd stare a little too long at it and wonder.

josh
Okay, but what's that worth, is the question? I mean, there's no doubt the Porsche badge is more exclusive. I mean, it might be priced the way it is simply BECAUSE the Audi is priced the way IT is. And a Porsche station wagon is absolutely more unique than a Mercedes station wagon. There's only one of them.
So you're going to pay for that exclusivity. It's a serious style statement, even if the car itself sometimes looks awkward. But I'm not sure that exclusivity is worth that much extra money.

Porsche

willscourtney
So, let's wrap things up. Final thoughts?

josh
Okay, another way to look at it is missing link between the E63 AMG and the Ferrari FF—it's more than an insane wagon, slightly less than a wagon supercar.
Sorry, this is not a final thought. It's just the price is bugging me.

willscourtney
Hah. Fair.
Okay, NOW, final thoughts.

josh
Okay: this is an extraordinarily well-executed and stupidly, almost unbelievably capable unicorn machine, a Porsche station wagon, that is definitely WORTH the price in terms of the machine you're getting—all things considered, between exclusivity, luxury, performance, style, nerd cred, etc.—but still feels punitively expensive. But as I'm very much a person who would rather have one uber-capable machine than several specialists, it might be my favorite, most perfect car on the road. I will say I haven't been so overwhelmingly blown away—like, kid-in-Willy-Wonka's-factory happy—in a goddamn long time.

willscourtney
That's very true, folks. Josh is rarely happy.
If I can divorce myself from my hangup about the cost—which for some reason is bugging me more here than with other Porsches—it's basically impossible not to love this car. It's a Porsche that's got a cargo bay big enough I can actually lay flat in it, but can also rip around corners and haul ass like a 911 Turbo. And that's not even factoring in the unicorn factor. I'd get used to the glossy buttons. It'd be an angry month, but I'd get used to it.

josh
Yeah, and since we didn't mention the back seat: the back seat is huge and usable and comfortable and I could live there.

[After-the-Fact Check: The Panamera Sport Turismo is the first Panamera with fully fold-flat rear seats. With them lowered, the 18.3-cubic-foot cargo bay expands to 49.0 cubic feet.]

Porsche

josh
Also—Actually, I bet you'd hate the glossy buttons more after a month.

willscourtney
DON'T CRUSH MY DREAMS
Once I set my radio stations and my climate settings, I never need to touch them again. I just won't let anyone else ever change anything.

josh
You clearly don't hate on principle as much as I do.
/giphy that's all, folks

GIPHY


willscourtney
/giphy porsche panamera turbo sport turismo

GIPHY