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Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo.
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo.

GENEVA MOTOR SHOW

Believe it: Meet the Porsche station wagon Add to ...

Porsche has made a station wagon. Flying pigs, imminent.

We’ve been waiting such a long time. When first shown as a concept car in 2012, the Panamera Sport Turismo met with universal praise. Porsche’s designers became tired of fielding questions about it. The ugly-duckling Panamera should’ve looked like the concept from the start.

But would Porsche’s brass ever work up the guts – and a business case – to put the wagon-like Panamera into production?

Five years later, it’s actually here. Porsche presented its first station wagon, the Panamera Sport Turismo, to the public at the Geneva motor show.

Why did it take so long?

“This is what I ask myself. Why in the hell?” said Michael Mauer, head of design at Porsche. “If you ask engineers and production guys, they will say it’s because designers make everything so complicated.”

Primarily though, Porsche wasn’t sure a station wagon would turn a profit.

“It’s a huge, huge investment for a company and you’d better ask yourself twice if you should spend the money,” Mauer said. “We are damn sure this car would be well accepted in Europe, but the question mark [was] the U.S. market.”

In North America, consumers can’t stop buying SUVs but Mauer is convinced the Sport Turismo – which he hesitates to even call a station wagon – has the potential to steal buyers away from SUVs and away from other brands.

Purists might call a station wagon sacrilegious but Porsche crossed that line when it released a SUV. Now, there’s no turning back.

As of March 1, the Macan sport-ute is outselling all of Porsche’s sports cars – combined – in Canada. It’s not even close. So, a Porsche wagon? Sure, why not? It will compete against the Mercedes-AMG E63 wagon, and even fastbacks such as the Audi RS7 and BMW M6 Grand Coupe.

It’s interesting to see Porsche take chance on something different, rather than continue to roll out a thousand predictable variants of the 911, good as they may be.

Porsche waited to put the Sport Turismo on the all-new second-generation Panamera platform. In typical Porsche fashion, the Sport Turismo isn’t quite as attractive as the concept car, but it is nevertheless a handsome machine. The sheet metal is all-new aft of the B-pillars.

The Sport Turismo promises to be more a sensible car than the sedan. The new roofline means more headroom for rear-seat passengers and a useful 20 litres of additional trunk space. The rear seats fold down, too. This will be the first Panamera with five seats – Porsche calls it 4+1 seating – and truly, the middle chair is little more than a glorified armrest with a seatbelt.

In what we’re quite sure is a first for all wagon-kind, the Sport Turismo introduces an active rear roof spoiler. Below 170 km/h or 90 km/h , depending on drive mode, the wing points down to reduce aerodynamic drag. Above those speeds, it pops up to provide as much as 110 pounds of down-force. It raises even further when the sunroof is open to reduce wind noise.

Prices start at $109,700 and climb to $175,600 for the Turbo, with power outputs ranging from 330 horsepower to 550. A hybrid is also available.

All-wheel drive and air suspension are standard on all models. On the mid-range Panamera 4S, you’ll pay a $10,000 premium for the Sport Turismo. It’s not a bargain by any stretch, but at least you do get more standard equipment.

Once thought to be near extinction, the station wagon is making a minor comeback. Between this new Porsche, the new Mercedes E-Class wagon, Audi A4 Allroad, and the Volvo V90, well-heeled wagon fans have cause for celebration.

The Panamera Sport Turismo is to arrive in Canada this year in the fourth quarter.

Porsche purists haven’t been forgotten though. To placate those diehards, the company unveiled an updated 2018 GT3 with a six-speed manual transmission option. The engine is now a 4.0-litre unit putting out an impressive 500 horsepower. The stick-shift makes it a half-second slower from 0-100 km/h compared to the PDK automatic, but it’s more “emotional,” Porsche says.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

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