Love it or loathe it, the Panamera is a success story. So successful that it has cemented Porsche’s reputation as a maker of luxury cars and not just hardcore performance cars as before. In fact, the success of the Panamera (and the Cayenne and Macan) has given Porsche a confidence boost, so much so that the Stuttgart based car maker thinks it can replicate the success of the Panamera with an all-new model to take on the likes of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and even the BMW 5-Series, but that is not what this story is about.

But the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo you see here is clearly from the Panamera family, though quite obviously different. The Sport Turismo is basically fancy language for what regular people call an estate, or a hatch back model.

Simply put, the Panamera Sport Turismo is the more practical version of the standard four seat Panamera. It has a longer and higher roofline thanks to it being a shooting brake model, which is another word for estate or hatch back if you did not know it already. It also has larger rear doors and the booth opens wider than the standard Panamera as well.

The Sport Turismo is also the first Panamera that is able to carry five passengers instead of the usual four. But besides the obvious visual difference, the extra passenger capacity and the fact that the Sport Turismo is just 40kg heavier, the difference between both cars is really not all that much.

Porsche may call it a 4+1 (again, fancy Porsche lingo for a five seater), but the centre seat and the wide transmission tunnel makes it an uncomfortable place for a person to spend a few hours on. And though the booth space may be larger than standard, it does not exactly have class-leading capacity.

But if the Sport Turismo is not big on practicality, so what is it all about then? Simply put, it still is about the same thing the Panamera always has been about – duality. But this time the Sport Turismo has given the Panamera the design character it has always been lacking. It is unmistakably a Sport Turismo, there is no mistaking it for any other car, not even a larger 911.

So Sime Darby Auto Performance (SDAP), the importer and distributor of Porsches in Malaysia, let us have our way with the Sport Turismo at a Porsche track day for owners of new and classic Porsches. We were handed the keys to the Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo – the flagship model of the Sport Turismo range.

I have to say that it was a little odd at first to drive a car made for comfort, luxury and practicality around such a specialised track like the Sepang International Circuit. Odd because the car is huge, it is heavy, the interior is not exactly made to hold you in place for track days, but rather to cocoon you in comfort and luxury as you go about making your millions. But strangely, the Sport Turismo Turbo never once felt out of place on track.

Maybe that is so because of the 4.0-litre, V8, twin-turbo engine and all of its 547 horsepower and 770Nm of torque. It may seem very normal in these days of gargantuan power figures, but the Sport Turismo does not only have a lot of power, it knows how to help you use it to its full extent as well. It does by channeling power to all four wheels so you are never left slipping and sliding; grip is always generously available.

Then there are the intelligent electronics which we have come to expect of modern Porsches, and in actual fact, you need some trick electronics with clever algorithms programmed into expensive microchips to manage the mass and heft of the car. Without such wizardry, there is no way a car with this much power and this much weight can corner or even perform its ground shattering century sprint in just 3.8 seconds.

You also need a brilliantly compliant yet intelligent chassis that is able to read what you are doing with the car, think ahead in milliseconds, and prep the suspension and the rear differential to make it perform exactly as you want it. And this car has exactly that, and it is called the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport), which is coupled to the rear-axle steering system, a feature that has already made an appearance in the 911 and even the Cayenne.

Then there is the Porsche Active Suspension Management and Porsche Traction Management that gels the entire package into a massive car that is able to perform as well or even better than some of the best sports cars of our era. For the record, the Sport Turismo Turbo was easily breathing down the neck of some of the other Porsches that were there for a SDAP organised track day.

At the end of our test, we were invited to ride shotgun with Earl Bamber. If you are not familiar with the name, he is a New Zealander living in KL, who is also a double winner of the 2015 and 2017 24-hours of Le Mans with the Porsche LMP team, Porsche Supercup champion and double Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion.

In his experienced hands, the Sport Turismo Turbo performed at an unbelievable level. Riding with one of the most decorated Porsche racers makes you realise that the talent of the car far outperforms that of your own. Despite weighing over two tons, the car was able to brake late into corners with its face morphing 410mm front composite discs and six-piston callipers.

You can also feel the rear-axle steering tucking the rear into corners with surreal agility – the rear never once threatened to snap, not even under heavy braking from close to 270km/h on the straights of Sepang. Riding with Earl proved that the Sport Turismo is a Porsche capable of everyday conveniences that never forgot its sporting pedigree.

The Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo we drove was priced at over RM 2 million with its level of specification. You too can expect to pay about the same for a similarly specced Sport Turismo Turbo. But unless you are a professional race driver, don’t expect to be unimpressed by the capabilities of the car, this is a machine that will blow away the uninitiated.

Specifications:

Price: RM 2 million (base)
Engine: 4.0-litre, V8, twin-turbo,
Power: 547hp
Torque: 770Nm
0 – 100km/h: 3.8 seconds
Fuel consumption: 9.5-litres/100km

[Keshy Dhillon]

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