Porsche – Truth or dare?

It was bound to happen sometime and, finally, it has: Porsche have built a station wagon. I am relieved to say it is absolutely brilliant.

Porsche is very close to selling 250,000 cars a year. To put that into perspective, Ferrari would take more than 30 years to sell the same number of cars. Now, of course Ferrari only builds super sports cars and no SUVs or four-door saloons but, still, ask anyone and Ferrari’s biggest rival is Porsche.

That means someone at Porsche devised a commercial strategy that is pretty much spot on. The logic behind it is: we want to build the best sports cars in the world, but to do that we need to sell the best SUVs and four-door family cars so we can pour money into the coupés we love.

It’s quite straightforward. All Porsche have to do is stick to their word: build the best car on any segment it wants to play in. So far so good: the Cayenne, the Macan and the Panamera are all top of their class. Needless to say, the 911, Boxster and Cayman have no real rivals as well, so it has been smooth sailing for Porsche for the past decade or so.

Having taken calculated risks with the Cayenne, the Macan and the Panamera, the three models in the line-up that are not pure sports cars, Porsche are now taking the whole niche-filling one step further: they built a station wagon. Or, to be more precise, a shooting brake.

Now this being Porsche, it was never going to be called Panamera SW or Panamera Touring or something like that. No, this is a Porsche, so it needs a better name: Panamera Sport Turismo. Wow, that sounds really good. And really expensive too. And it is. Both.

At the invitation of Porsche Iberia, I went to Alentejo to drive the new Panamera Sport Turismo. We stayed at one of the nicest small hotels in the country, a place called Torre de Palma, near Monforte. With five metres in length and weighing more than 2000kg, the Sport Turismo was made for the wide-open roads of Alentejo. I could swear I saw 280km/h on the odometer while me and my co-pilot were just talking, completely relaxed. It is that sort of car.

Under the hood, the top of the range Sport Turismo – called the Turbo S E-Hybrid – has a 4 litre V8 turbo engine and an electric motor which, together develop a total output of 680 horse power. Yes, you read that right: six hundred and eighty horse power. That means O-100km/h in 3.4 seconds, with the kids in the back, or rolling silently in electric mode. What a machine!

As you expect from a Panamera, the cabin is superb and the interior ambience faultless. Obviously, the options list is a never-ending headache – even the back seat can be a two or three seater – but that means you can spec the car to your own peculiar tastes.

There are other, cheaper versions down the Sport Turismo line, including a diesel that will probably, and sadly, rack up most of the sales in Europe, but the Turbo S E-Hybrid is so yummy I don’t really care about the others. Sorry, if you are going to spend €150,000 on a family wagon, better just to man-up, spend an extra €50,000 and live the high life.

So, for the big question: can a shooting brake really be a true Porsche or will there be consequences, i.e., is this a step too far for a sports car brand? Well, let me tell you this: the Sport Turismo is not really more practical than the Panamera saloon. There’s no more space inside, no more space in the boot, no more cup holders, nothing that makes a family make a rational decision and go for the Sport Turismo and not the saloon.

This, at a certain point of those two days in Alentejo, made me realise something: the Sport Turismo is purely an emotional buy. There’s no rational justification for it. None. Unlike the Cayenne, the Macan and the Panamera saloon, which can be had for practical reasons, rational reasons, this is a car you buy as an object you love. You don’t need it, you love it – which makes it closer in concept to the 911, Boxster and Cayman than with the Cayenne, Macan and Panamera saloon.

A Porsche bought solely for the pleasure of having the finest things in life – with the added bonus you can take the kids to school in it, their bikes and the dog. On a long trip, they will fall asleep because of all the comfort and let you enjoy your new car, while having a nice conversation or relax (at a perfectly safe 280km/h) and listen to the fabulous Burmester audio.

What a great notion for a petrolhead like me. A hedonistic Porsche I can share with the family. It’s the best four-door Porsche makes for people who love cars.

By Guilherme Marques