The Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo will be available to customers in South Africa early next year, but there are two in the country right now and an opportunity to drive the top-ofthe-range turbo version over the weekend was not to be sniffed at.
The Sport Turismo is slightly hard to place, an estate version of the standard Panamera is about the closest I can get. Its a station-wagon on steroids. We were just two-up and the 4+1 seating suited us fine, but had it not there are plenty of options. The rear seats can be folded down together or separately in a 40:20:40 configuration with electrically powered unlocking from the luggage compartment. Folding down all the backrests creates a virtually level loading floor.
Our destination was Buhala Lodge, a delightful place with even more delightful staff, which is situated on the banks of the Crocodile River. Porsche had kindly thrown this in, presumably so that their R2 522 000 beauty would not be vandalised while parked outside a place within my budget.
The route is one I have driven many times and not really a favourite, a journey where it is the destination that makes it all worthwhile. The Sport Turismo changes that significantly, eliminating boring stretches by way of its comfortable air suspension and excellent sound system.
As an option, the Panamera Sport Turismo can be fitted with a Bose sound system or Burmester sound system. Key information about the Bose sound system is that it offers 14 loudspeakers including passive subwoofer, 14 amplifier channels and a total output of 710 watts. Alternatively there is the 3D high-end surround sound system from Burmester with a total output of 1 455 watts, 20 directly controlled loudspeakers and a 400 watt active subwoofer.
Being so close to the Kruger Park meant that a trip through it was a given. Boot searches are the order of the day to ensure day visitors don’t bring in any alcohol. The fact that it is freely available inside the park at any of the many shops is apparently lost.
But then Park management has often been highhanded and irrational. My irritation at this was largely mitigated by the fact that the Porsche’s boot can be opened and closed from the comfort of the driver’s seat.
Once inside I reckon the Sport Turismo was drawing more attention than the Big Five. At one stage a commercial game viewing vehicle approaching in the other direction flashed it headlights vigorously for me to stop. Usually this is done by vehicles wishing to share information on an extraordinary game sighting. I wondered what it might be, Leopard, Lion, Wild Dog? I wound down my window.
The not-so-impossible dream across Can I touch it? That’s a bit forward I thought, particularly in front of his guests – and my wife. Then I remembered the car. “Of course”, I replied. To my great amusement he then actually stretched out his hand and gave the Porsche’s side mirror a loving rub before driving off. His guests must have been German tourists as none among them appeared in the least annoyed at the unnecessary stop and I witnessed several thumbs up and animated pointing at the Porsche badge.
I think its safe to say that any styling criticisms levelled at the Panamera have been dismissed in the Sport Turismo. The Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo’s V8 engine sounds like it should and revs automatically on startup. This is slightly embarrassing when leaving a crowded game sighting, but great when leaving a parking lot.
The Turbo Sport Turismo pushes 404kW and 770Nm through the 8-speed PDK gearbox, so overtaking is a breeze and cruising effortless. If you did misjudge, a jab of the power button on the steering-wheel mounted mode selector temporarily throws the kitchen sink at the problem and you’ll be looking to the powerful braking offered by the huge 410mm front and 380 mm rear discs sooner than you think.
The +1 seat is touted as a great feature, but I suspect only by those who will never have to use it. All round visibility is a challenge and make the reverse cameras essential. The doors too require more effort to close than I would expect given the brand.
Those small criticisms however in no meaningful way detract from two days with a beautiful beast. For those for whom Sport Turismo became only an impossible dream when they noted the price early on, the good news is that more affordable models will be available.
The range will begin with two V6 models, the Panamera 4 Sport Turismo which will benefit from 243kW and 450Nm and retail at R1 431 000. This will be followed by the Panamera 4S Sport Turismo which has 324kW and 550Nm at R1 667 000.