I drove a $144,000 Porsche Panamera GTS Sport Turismo to see if this high-performance wagon was as good as it looks - here's the verdict

Porsche Panamera GTS Sport Turismo

Matthew DeBord/BI

The 2019 Porsche Panamera GTS Sport Turismo.

  • I tested a 2019 Porsche Panamera GTS Sport Turismo, a wagonified Panamera GTS that cost a well-optioned $144,000.

  • The Panamera has long been considered an unattractive car, but I think the Sport Turismo treatment fixes that. I'd previous driven a more powerful and more expensive Turbo version of this car.
  • The Panamera is available with a twin-turbocharged V6 or V8 engine. I favored the 453-horsepower V8 mill in the GTS. The best thing about my Panamera GTS Sport Turismo tester was the dynamic-chassis feature and an impeccable torque-vectoring system for the all-wheel-drive setup.
  • The Panamera GTS Sport Turismo has a snappy eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and suspension and drivetrain combined to create one of the most enjoyable go-fast experiences I've had in a while.
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Don't pity the ungainly Porsche Panamera. The four-door that everybody loves to hassle for its looks has been improved, unexpectedly, by the addition of a wagon trim to the lineup.

Remarkably, the ugly sedan has become a more swan-like estate.

Well, not really. But adding rear volume has ironically made the Panamera's bulbous back end tolerable.

Meanwhile, even though I don't like V8 Porsches all that much, or even at all, I found that when Stuttgart's US representatives flipped me the keys to a 2019 Panamera GTS Sport Turismo, a change of heart was on the horizon.

Here's what happened:

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I fetched my 2019 Porsche Panamera GTS Sport Turismo test vehicle at the San Francisco airport.

I fetched my 2019 Porsche Panamera GTS Sport Turismo test vehicle at the San Francisco airport.

As with all my airport pickups of test vehicles, I immediately had the chance to sample cargo capacity. At 18 cubic feet, it's adequate: it handled my suitcase and could have handled another just like it.

As with all my airport pickups of test vehicles, I immediately had the chance to sample cargo capacity. At 18 cubic feet, it's adequate: it handled my suitcase and could have handled another just like it.

Style-wise, I think the wagon-y Sport Turismo trim improves on the unloved Panamera design. We first experienced this Stuttgart estate in the more expensive and more powerful Turbo trim.

Style-wise, I think the wagon-y Sport Turismo trim improves on the unloved Panamera design. We first experienced this Stuttgart estate in the more expensive and more powerful Turbo trim.

The Sport Turismo treatment solves the problem of the Panamera's rotund rear end by making the back of the car even larger.

The Sport Turismo treatment solves the problem of the Panamera's rotund rear end by making the back of the car even larger.

Shouldn't work, but it does!

Shouldn't work, but it does!

My tester featured both an integrated spoiler and ...

My tester featured both an integrated spoiler and ...

... A small winglet that you can throw up anytime you want, but that auto-deploys above 100 mph to add downforce to the back end.

... A small winglet that you can throw up anytime you want, but that auto-deploys above 100 mph to add downforce to the back end.

My Porsche Panamera GTS Sport Turismo came in a fetching "Mahogany Metallic" paint job.

My Porsche Panamera GTS Sport Turismo came in a fetching "Mahogany Metallic" paint job.

The headlamps, with their four-point running-light feature, are a cool upgrade to the familiar Porsche bug-eyes fascia.

The headlamps, with their four-point running-light feature, are a cool upgrade to the familiar Porsche bug-eyes fascia.

The 21-inch "Turbo Design" wheels were a $2,160 option. The other major add-on was a combination of dynamic chassis control and torque vectoring ($5,600), which in practice makes this car one of the most firmly planted I've ever driven at speed.

The 21-inch "Turbo Design" wheels were a $2,160 option. The other major add-on was a combination of dynamic chassis control and torque vectoring ($5,600), which in practice makes this car one of the most firmly planted I've ever driven at speed.

Note the aero-duct on the side-view mirror (side-views always mess with airflow).

Note the aero-duct on the side-view mirror (side-views always mess with airflow).

Absent this side vent, the Panamera GTS Sport Turismo is relatively free of exterior adornment.

Absent this side vent, the Panamera GTS Sport Turismo is relatively free of exterior adornment.

Even the Porsche badge is modest.

Even the Porsche badge is modest.

Let's slip inside.

Let's slip inside.

The interior of my Panamera GTS Sport Turismo was a combo of leather and Alcantara, all in black. Severe! Purposeful!

The interior of my Panamera GTS Sport Turismo was a combo of leather and Alcantara, all in black. Severe! Purposeful!

The GTS badging is reserved.

The GTS badging is reserved.

Space in the back seats is reasonable.

Space in the back seats is reasonable.

And the seats themselves are comfy while also being bolstered for spirited driving.

And the seats themselves are comfy while also being bolstered for spirited driving.

Legroom for my 5'7" self was fine, even in mah cowboy boots.

Legroom for my 5'7" self was fine, even in mah cowboy boots.

Yep, there's a moonroof. Definitely helps brighten things up when you have an all-black interior.

Yep, there's a moonroof. Definitely helps brighten things up when you have an all-black interior.

The GTS Sport Turismo's interior simply oozes luxury and performance credibility.

The GTS Sport Turismo's interior simply oozes luxury and performance credibility.

The multifunction steering wheel is Alcantara-wrapped and stupendously responsive. There are paddle shifters, a customizable instrument-cluster display with the tachometer front and center, and ...

The multifunction steering wheel is Alcantara-wrapped and stupendously responsive. There are paddle shifters, a customizable instrument-cluster display with the tachometer front and center, and ...

... A reminder that there is no substitute.

... A reminder that there is no substitute.

This small wheel controls the drive modes: Normal, Sport, Sport+, and Individual.

This small wheel controls the drive modes: Normal, Sport, Sport+, and Individual.

Again, the GTS ST I tested was overall a study in not overdoing it. The dark, grained wood and brushed-metal trim were epic in their restraint.

Again, the GTS ST I tested was overall a study in not overdoing it. The dark, grained wood and brushed-metal trim were epic in their restraint.

It ain't a Porsche if there isn't a clock to measure the 0-60 mph time. Which was about four seconds flat.

It ain't a Porsche if there isn't a clock to measure the 0-60 mph time. Which was about four seconds flat.

Let's pop the hood and see what we can see!

Let's pop the hood and see what we can see!

Well, we can't see much, so we'll take Porsche's word for it that there's a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, making 453 horsepower with 457 pound feet of torque, under that lovely hunk of plastic.

Well, we can't see much, so we'll take Porsche's word for it that there's a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, making 453 horsepower with 457 pound feet of torque, under that lovely hunk of plastic.

The Panamera ST Turbo test car we previous sampled was powered by a 550-horsepower, 4.0 liter, twin-turbocharged V8.

In the wagon-y realm, one can also obtain a 330-horsepower, 3.0-liter, turbocharged V6 and a 440-horsepower, twin-turbocharged, 2.9-liter V6. There's also a pair of hybrid drivetrains, one with 462 horsepower and the other with a whopping 680 ponies.

The power is channeled to the aforementioned torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive setup via a quick-shifting, eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission. Fuel economy isn't great: 15 mpg city/22 highway/18 combined.

The power is channeled to the aforementioned torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive setup via a quick-shifting, eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission. Fuel economy isn't great: 15 mpg city/22 highway/18 combined.

Infotainment runs on a relatively large yet discreet central touchscreen.

Infotainment runs on a relatively large yet discreet central touchscreen.

I didn't have a lot of time to test all the features, but I've experienced this system before, and it performs all the expected functions admirably.

I didn't have a lot of time to test all the features, but I've experienced this system before, and it performs all the expected functions admirably.

This is also where you can tweak the GTS Sport Turismo's drive modes.

This is also where you can tweak the GTS Sport Turismo's drive modes.

So what's the verdict?

So what's the verdict?

I don't like the V8 Panameras, but this guy finally did it for me. This isn't a modest vehicle. No, it isn't a raging beast, as was the Turbo Sport Turismo version, and it does weight in at close to 5,000 pounds. But the V8, the snappy transmission, and especially the dynamic chassis feature and the torque-vectoring combined to fill me with confidence on both freeways, byways, and some twisty asphalt.

My time with the GTS Sport Turismo was brief but joyful. And it was a full test, including a variety of different types of driving in the Bay Area, plus some basic cargo hauling. No, this car isn't as much fun as a 911. Yes, it does argue for a suitably grand four-door experience. Yes, you do want to make this puppy go fast. And yes, it does go fast. Real fast. At any given time, you're likely to be the fastest thing in your immediate vicinity. Making space on San Francisco's crowded freeways was no problem.

So, in the end ... shocker! I cozy up to the slightly less powerful and in my view more fun wagonized version of the Porsche I probably like least.

Nothing wrong with that, and props to Porsche for creating a Panamera, almost literally, for everyone.


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