Coffee table book, available now
Porsche-Panamera-4-Sport-Turismo-soul-score-banner

It’s too late to save the Porsche Panamera 4S Sport Turismo

Never miss a new car review!

The soul of a car comes from many places. Of course the biggest is how it drives, how it interacts with you. But other things matter too. Looks, rarity, practicality…and reputation. Yes, both how it makes other perceive you, and how you perceive yourself. And this Porsche Panamera 4S Sport Turismo comes with a lot of reputation points.

A wagon! A Porsche Wagon. Surely this is the holy grail. But that reputation can also lead you down a path of disappointment.

What happens when you should love a car, but you don’t?

Porsche Panamera 4S Sport Turismo

2020 Porsche Panamera 4S Sport Turismo Quick Take

Get one:

It’s a wagon. Good grunt from the mid-level motor. Wears its weight and size well. Comfy inside.

Don’t get one:

Not ugly, but not pretty. Interior on the cheaper side. Not all Porsche-level feedback. The Taycan existing. The RS 6 also existing.

Soul Score: 7

The Panamera Sport Turismo is a great car, but simply a good Porsche.

The 2020 Porsche Panamera 4S Sport Turismo Overview

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

After my failed date with the Audi RS 6, I took a look at the wagon landscape and found it lacking. You know there’s nothing out there, and we’re definitely part of the problem. We beg, and plead, and cry – “Please bring them here”. Then we don’t buy them. This Porsche Panamera 4S Sport Turismo is the perfect example, because it just died. Seems, you know…no one bought them.

However, it’s not just our fault, because Porsche bombards you with choice when you walk into a dealership.

“Try a Macan. Or a Cayenne. How about a Taycan or a Panamera sedan, those have hatches. Wagon? Okay, here’s a Taycan Cross Turismo.”

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

You’ve got to walk past a lot of metal to reach the very back of the lot where this car would likely be parked. Will you be disappointed when you get there?

The thing is, everyone expects any Porsche to be a 911. But the 911 is on a platform designed by the Stuttgart guys for themselves, and then VW can come along and take it if they want it. The platform this Panamera is built on is also designed by Porsche, it’s built for everybody in the VAG.

It’s not the same thing. Let me show you how.

Performance Score: 6. All you can eat

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
This badge has some baggage.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Porsche is their trim level structure. S, GTS, Turbo, GT – it’s not enough to simply obtain one, because there’s always another golden ring to reach for. That means it’s not always Porsche-levels of performance, even if you always pay Porsche-levels of price.

Engine

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
*Growls intensely*

I hate to pull out the old adage of “no replacement for displacement”, but in this 2.9 liter V-6, something is missing. We’re driving the middle of the road 4S with 440 horsepower – I shudder to think of the base model’s 330 motivating this two-plus ton machine.

Engage launch mode, and the car does indeed launch like an F/A-18 off the flight deck. But keep your foot in it, and…I dunno. It’s fine. I believe the Sport Turismo needs the Turbo’s 550-horsey V-8 to really provide the visceral thrill you’d expect of a car like this. The Turismo’s $111k base price means an RS 6 and M5 are available with big boy engines opposing this 2.9.

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
The engine is smooth, but runs out of steam toward the top of the tach.

Sound though – very good. Very Porsche, especially with the aftermarket exhaust bolted to this example. You’ll rev is just because you’re in a tunnel.

Don’t get the wrong idea – it’s no slouch. But this isn’t a cheap car, and that badge is promising so much more.

Transmission

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
This PDK is Okay with me.

Well look who’s reporting for duty. It’s the ZF eight-speed…no, wait a minute. This isn’t the same – it’s a ZF PDK.

Providing a major point of differentiation from lesser brands, the PDK offers up typical dual-clutch responses without losing any of the refinement of a typical slush box. I wish BMW had never given up on theirs, because Porsche has managed to beef it up even for Turbo duty.

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
It’s like they don’t want us to use the shifters…

Attached to this transmission is standard all-wheel drive, and it’s a nice element on a car that’s intended to be used in all weather conditions. Helps get the Sport Turismo off the line too.

Finally, steering wheel paddles. They are so small again. Guys, come on, we want to pull on them, not hunt for them.

Chassis and steering

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
A standard adjustable air suspension makes the ride comfortable.

Choose to look at this from two perspectives. I find the steering in the Sport Turismo to be very good for the segment this car lives in. But it’s also the worst Porsche I’ve driven in terms of feedback and steering feel. A bit vague from dead-center, and attached to a chassis that’s a bit slow to react, I can still say that it’s better than anything else in a Mercedes or whatever.

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
It’s great if you’re coming from an M3, but merely good for a Porsche.

And the chassis – folks, this is a 4,400-pound wagon. In front of it, we call it “stocky”. A linebacker might have a few moves of a running back, but do you want J.J. Watt in for Christian McCaffrey?

Holding it all up is a standard adjustable air suspension that does an excellent job at hiding and defying the laws of physics, but weight is weight. That said, the 4S is a comfortable car that allows for excellent balance as you execute precision turns. No body lean or roll unless you really get on it.

But that’s what a 911 is for.

Brakes

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
Big brakes must stop a big car.

With calipers painted a look-at-me shade of green and grabbing 15.4-inch front rotors, the Panamera’s brakes are up to the task of hauling this hauler down easily. They aren’t RS 6 levels of impressive (in appearance or power), but I doubt you’ll be tracking this car and thus find it impossible to induce fade.

What we’re left with is a Porsche that’s good enough to put a smile on your face, but not great enough make you covet one over a car in the same price range. Perhaps a Turbo, with that hairy V-8, would change my mind, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Utility Score: 6. Unsexy sacrifice

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
The back seat is tight, but separate buckets are cool.

Part of the reason for choosing a sedan, or wagon, is that you won’t need to worry about bringing everyone alone. But in the Porsche Panamera 4S Sport Turismo, it’s tight in the back seat. The combination of low roofline and lilliputian leg room can make it feel a bit claustrophobia-inducing back there. Yes, yes, I’m 6’1 and never sit in any back seat. But you might.

Up front is quite different, with a set of bucket seats that are typically Porsche-perfect. How do they design these things to be both comfy, firm, and supportive in all the right spots? They look nice too – simple and elegant.

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
Plenty of room in the hatch for life, but the steep roof can cut into the trunk.

Any time you mention wagon, I will say win. The hatches make them easier to load than a sedan, and they always provide more room. I’m not going to get out a ruler and measure the back of this versus an RS – you’d be happy with the room in either. Perhaps the Porsche’s glass slopes more aggressively, but that’s the price of beauty.

Actually, maybe I’ll just mention this here. It’s not ugly, but this Panamera has a large rear-wheel overhang that I find awkward-looking. Still like it better than the sedan.

Fuel economy: 7. Yay?

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
Selecting the V-6 doesn’t come with a big advantage.

Since we’re not talking about the V-8, we get reduced pump pain. 20 MPG combined here, and only 16 for the Turbo. It also fairs better than the RS 6, but not the M5 – that does a mile-per-gallon better. They still make the best engines.

Perhaps now is the time to note the hybrid version of this Porsche wagon, the (deep breath)….Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo S E-Hybrid. Wow. But for that extra weight and cost, you get the Turbo’s performance and V-8 with this car’s mileage.

What’s that? You don’t care? Oh good, me either.

Features and Comfort: 7. Black tie affair

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

I will admit that sometimes it’s hard to review cars like this. It makes economical (and ergonomic) sense to keep an entire brand’s interior theme throughout the lineup.

But can’t we do anything fun? The last time a German brand had any sense of fun inside was a BMW Z8 from twenty years ago. Now it’s all the same bits in different shapes.

Cheap dates for not cheap rates

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
Minimalist in a bad way.

I’ve been inside here plenty by now, so you know what I like.

A dash that’s digital, but with a beautiful real analog tach front and center. Separate climate controls that are easy to see at a glance. Soft leather on some surfaces.

But the Panamera is one of those Porsches that must be optioned heavily to bring out the deluxe experience. No alcantara, really cheap plastic on the dash and lower panels – feels like $80k in here, not nearly $120,000.

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
Haptic controls mix with conventional HVAC buttons.
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
Could we match the color of the car at least?

Porsche’s infotainment system is also very very Teutonic, all grey scale, monotone and serious. “Ya, driving is serious.”, Porsche might say. But there’s a difference between minimalist and cheap. It’s not just a Panamera problem, as they all share the same system.

The Beetle conundrum

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
911 with a backpack?

Name a good-looking Porsche. Right, the 911 comes to mind first. Good job. Of course, the 911 is an iconic sports car.

What else is iconic…a Corvette? Imagine if Chevrolet had to fit the Corvette’s styling onto its entire lineup. Weird, right? Well that’s Porsche’s problem.

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
Check the deploy-able spoiler.
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
A set of forged wheels add to the clean aesthetic.
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
Good hips.

Sometimes it works – think Macan. Sometimes, like here, it’s less successful. Aside from the aforementioned overhang, you get big bug-eyed headlights and overall proportions that just seem off. It’s not ugly, and those rear haunches look terrific, but even with a slinky set of forged wheels, I prefer the Tron looks of the RS 6.

The Porsche Panamera 4S Sport Turismo is dead, and that’s okay

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

By the time you read this, it’ll be too late. Sure, you might be able to snatch one up on a lot somewhere, but for the most part this car is dead.

But you know what? That’s okay – not every wagon needs to be saved, just like every manual transmission isn’t good simply because it’s a manual. Part of the reason the M5 is such a success is because it negates the need for a second fun car. It’s just fun – no excuses.

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

But the RS, and now this Panamera – they are not the kind of cars that really call to you from the garage. Don’t get me wrong, you can drive them on back roads and punish them on tracks, but it feels a bit like work, and less like fun. I didn’t even mention the Blackwing, the king of big performance sedans. I just mentioned it anyway.

But let’s keep it in the family. I used to wonder why Porsche sold this car next to the Taycan Cross Turismo, but that car is what this one should have been. It’s prettier, faster, handles better – it’s the Porsche wagon we deserve. Yes, even though it’s electric.

And on that terrible disappointment, good-bye.

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

2020 Porsche Panamera 4S Sport Turismo Specifications

Vehicle Type: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, five-passenger, five-door wagon

PRICE

Base: $111,200

POWERTRAIN

2.9 liter twin turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve V-6
440 horsepower @ 5,650 RPM
406 lb-ft @ 2,000 RPM

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase: 116.1 in
Length: 198.8 in
Width: 76.3 in
Height: 56.2 in
Curb Weight: 4,397 lbs

FUEL ECONOMY

Combined / city / highway: 20 / 18 / 24 MPG

Want MWS to review your car?

If you live in the tri-state area and want me to check it out, send me an email! 

Support Machines With Souls

Commissions may be received for product links on this site. Help out if you can.

I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.

One thought on “It’s too late to save the Porsche Panamera 4S Sport Turismo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *