Review: 2018 Porsche Panamera 4 Sport Turismo, Stuttgart’s new eye candy

It’s common knowledge that the 911 is one of very few sports cars you can drive to work with ease and come the weekends, it’ll take any open day track day in its stride and still be able to drive you home after.

If the 911 is the sports car for all seasons, the new Panamera 4 Sport Turismo is the Porsche for all occasions. You might think the same about the Cayenne but lets be realistic, being an SUV and all it just wouldn’t have the same dynamism of the 911 or the Panamera, when the sudden urge arises to swipe through the next long swooping bend.

But let’s wind it back a little. When I first laid eyes on what could be the next four-door Porsche through images of the Porsche 989, I was horrified.

It looked as if it was performing an unnatural stretch – like a man doing a split – with both his hands pulled sideways and downwards. It’s as uncomfortable to picture as it is to read.

Having already had to live with the existence of a high-rise Porsche, the Cayenne, the thought of diluting the Porsche brand further (which in MY MIND consists only of 911s) with yet another mass-appeal product just made me cringe.

I’ve seen what a four-door Ferrari 456 GT looks like on paper, what the Aston Martin Rapide looks like in person and more recently, a Lamborghini four-door concept all over the Internet – none of them looks as appealing as their two-door counterparts would.

But in 2009, it happened and just like everyone expected, it was like a stab in the eye with a crinkled fork, on fire. The second generation did the Panamera (Carrera + Panamericana) and ultimately Porsche name more justice with an even more pronounced fastback look but no matter how you do it, a 911 silhouette with four doors just doesn’t work – visually, at least.

And that’s why I think they’ve finally hit the bull’s eye with the Sport Turismo. Now you can’t see it as a stretched 911 anymore, it looks purpose-built; to stand on its own and project more individualism.

Objectively, it may still not be for everyone. You may still not like it, but you won’t hate it. Me, I simply love how it looks. That burning fork is now replaced with a warm towel, gently placed on by a pair of delicate hands.

Arguably, it would look more proportionate with shorter rear overhangs, but it’s got that chunky but approachable hatchback look that just doesn’t try too hard to claim attention.

It gets better with closer examination of the details. Those 21-inch “Exclusive Design” wheels, a RM 23k option, are just to die for. Another must have item on the options list is that RM 16k quad-tailpipe Sport exhaust system that’ll respond either with a gentle purr or a fierce growl, depending on how far you stretch your right feet to trigger the 2.9-litre biturbo V6 engine.

Even the 4-piece Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) LED headlight system is an ornament on its own – there’s an allure to it that just makes you want to take a closer look at its meticulous LED arrangement. Throw in a further RM 7,000 into the order sheet and you’ll score yourself the LED Matrix PDLS pair.

But whatever you pick, please tick this particular “Special Colour” option with the lush Red hue; the Sport Turismo just turns heads everywhere it goes. It’s like walking around with a big red “Ang Pow”; you can’t not draw attention to yourself.

The “Porsche-ness” you seek is more apparent on the inside of the Sport Turismo, and behind the wheel, than from how it looks on the outside.

Let me try it to sum this up in the simplest way I can; it all just feels so right. Every twist of a knob, the push of a button, the resistance and the sound that it makes, justifies its RM 1 million price tag. This particular unit will cost you more, it’s got every possible option on sale.

Whether it’s a trim or a surface or a click, it all feels “tailor-made” but not for a specific individual but instead, “customised” for the masses, for every being privileged to ride in or own one to feel at home and at the centre of it all.

The gear lever console can be easily accustomed to but I suspect the more senior spectrum of Panamera owners will spend more time getting to know the 12-inch central command/infotainment system aptly named the Porsche Communication System, than it took them to assimilate with smartphones.

It also won’t be easy, for the old and young for that matter, to get the exact adjustments of the electronically-controlled air con vents – you’ll need the steady hands of a surgeon to get it just at the right position. In other words, you’ll have to split your eyeballs in opposite directions.

At the back, the first thing you’d notice, if you’ve spent time in a Panamera is the increased head room from the Sport Turismo’s “wagon” design. It doesn’t feel like it was built to confine and induce claustrophobia in you, like the Panameras of old.

I absolutely love how the centre tunnel cascades to the back. The view ahead from the back allows you to appreciate the overall design inside the car; it’s like an operating theater, draped in soft leather.

Behind the wheel, I like how easy the Sport Turismo was to drive. Its light but relatively communicative steering, taut pedals, enormously assuring brakes exudes harmony – a familiar trait of every Porsche driving experience.

Powerful it is not; not by any means. For the same price of a BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 S 4MATIC, it will be left for dust from the get-go with a 0 to 100 km/h time of just 5.3 seconds, armed with only 330 hp and 450Nm to pull its 1.9-tonne weight.

As much as it tries and to an extent succeeds to mask its weight, its belly still shows. The V6 engine really needs a good squeeze, to avoid feeling as if you were running with diving weights strapped on.

But work the revs hard enough through the flawless 8-speed PDK transmission, and you’d have a chubby kid that moves with the fluidity of a gymnast. The PDK gearbox is, in my opinion, simply the best transmission out there at the moment.

And as a long-distance, high speed cruiser, the Panamera Sport Turismo is right up there with the rest. It encloses you impeccably from the elements outside, making your mile-crunching journeys nearly effortless.

Considering the brief moment spent with the car, like literally for just a few hours, I must say it projected more strengths than weaknesses and its pros definitely out-shined any of its cons, if any at all.

And if it’s down to the question of why you should get the Panamera Sport Turismo over the faster BMW or the rude Mercedes-Benz, I put this back to you; why would you bother with a Coach or Micheal Kors bag if you can get something with a Prada badge for the same money?



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