“It all started with the Mercedes CLS back in 2005,” the commentator on Barrett-Jackson Auction 2060 will lecture to his co-host on the five-dimensional direct feed to your brain. The early 2000s, the audience learns, were a time of unprecedented automotive body styles and powertrain variants. “Then Porsche wanted a fastback car, so it built thePanamera. Audi joined with the A7, BMW launched the 6-series Gran Coupe, and then Benz built a wagon version of the CLS called theShooting Brake. And that’s what prompted Porsche to create this next lot, the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Wagon.”
Back in the present day, Porsche’s Panamera Sport Turismo wagon is debuting at the 2012 Paris auto show as a concept—but the clever sort of concept that will be on showroom floors in a year or two. The new rear end might not add a ton of cargo capacity, but it’s a clean, sexy design in comparison to the soggy mess of a tail on the current Panamera. The Sport Turismo incorporates thin, 911-style taillights connected—as they are on the new Carrera 4—with a horizontal bar. The design of the lower part of the Sport Turismo’s rear isn’t terribly imaginative, but it does help to minimize what’s objectively a lot of mass. From the rear-three-quarter angle, one could easily mistake this car for a dropped-and-chopped Cayenne SEMA car.
We really hope the Sport Turismo, with its sculpted and more muscular fascia, also previews stylistic changes to the rest of the Panamera range. Other details aren’t really appropriate for production, such as the flush door handles and the bullet cameras in place of side mirrors, but they could signal Porsche’s realization that the current Panamera looks bloated both in profile and in decoration.
Plug It In, Plug It In
Porsche continues its participation in the industry-wide green jihad with the Sport Turismo, showcasing a plug-in hybrid-electric powertrain that’s very likely production ready. The “e-hybrid” system is an evolution of the hybrid setup in the Cayenne and Panamera, with the Sport Turismo said to have an all-electric range of more than 18 miles and an electric-only top speed of 81 mph. Unlike its siblings, the Sport Turismo’s battery pack consists of lithium-ion cells, and the electric motor has been upgraded from 46 hp to 95. The corporate VW/Porsche/Audi 3.0-liter gasoline V-6 sticks around unchanged from the existing Cayenne S and Panamera S hybrids, and combined with the electric motor, total system output is said to be 416 hp.
The current Porsche hybrid system delivers great road performance—we clocked a Cayenne S hybrid at 5.7 seconds to 60—but Porsche hybrids generally have languid sales performance. So far this year, Porsche has shifted just 323 Panamera and 798 Cayennes gas-electrics in the U.S., according to the market research firm Baum & Associates, which publishes monthly hybrid sales at HybridCars.com.
Regardless of what ends up powering it, we expect the Sport Turismo will in fact enter production. There’s a small chance that Porsche is simply using this concept to introduce front-end styling that will appear on a face-lifted or next-gen Panamera, but we’re thinking a company that produces more than 20 variants of the 911 won’t suddenly grow gun-shy. Future Barrett-Jackson profits are depending on it.