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Porsche Panamera e-wagon: antidote to crossover fatigue

November 15, 2018

Porsche uses a lot of words to introduce its first plug-in hybrid wagon: Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. The method to the word madness is such: The Panamera is the full-size 2+2 sedan, but the wagon gets a fifth seat; 4 is all-wheel drive; E-Hybrid is plug-in hybrid with a modest if not meager 16-mile all-electric range; Sport Turismo is Porsche for wagon.

Introduced a year after the second-generation Panamera, the Sport Turismo wagon has several functional advantages over the sedan. Rear headroom is better, it has a larger and lower hatch opening for easier cargo loading and it looks sharper, more proportional than the jelly bean butt of the sedan.

Price is where it gets confusing, because Porsche seemingly wants to have as many Panamera variants (18) as there are 911 variants (24): Starting at $104,000, it has more cargo volume than the E-Hybrid sedan ($99,600), but less cargo volume than the Panamera 4 gasoline sedan ($89,600). The plug-in wagon comes better equipped and with a much better boost in power than the gas wagon, and it’s only $7,800 more instead of the $10,000 upcharge from the gas sedan to the plug-in sedan.

Most importantly, it’s not a crossover but has the crossover functionality at the rear. And the steeper hatch with the adaptive roof spoiler, along with the short overhangs and 20-inch wheels ($2,180), make it look like it’s ready to pounce.

So why get the plug-in instead of the gas wagon?

Power. Performance. Efficiency.

The electrified wagon pounces on the gas version, using a 14.1-kWh lithium-ion battery and 462-horsepower 2.9-liter twin turbo V-6 — not a flat 6 — to hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 170 mph. A similarly equipped gas wagon hits 60 in five seconds and tops out at 160 mph. It doubles the equivalent fuel efficiency at 46 mpge. Power without the guilt.

And there are so many modes to suit so many moods!

Accessing the drive modes comes from the wide and clear 12.3-inch touch-screen display. Fortunately Porsche streamlined all the buttons that were in the console into a double horizontal line at the base of the stack. Press the hybrid or the car button, for instance, and the screen will present the options.

The default mode is E-Power, or all-electric mode for up to an EPA-estimated 16 miles of range. The display can show up to 26 miles of range, which is an estimate based on driving history and conditions. It’s like the estimate for how many miles are left in the gas tank, explained Porsche spokesman Luke Vandezande. All-electric mode is smooth and silent around town.

We had about 5 miles on and off the highway on either end for our usual commute, so as soon as we approached the on-ramp, we hit the E-Hold button to conserve battery power. We overrode that to Sport mode for the on-ramp, and my goodness, all that 516 pound-feet of torque generated by the twin-turbo V-6 rockets the wagon to triple digits before we could check the speedometer.

If you want performance, hit the Sport button. It’s excellent. Otherwise the system gracefully dances between gas and electric; the driver can choose the dance or let it do its own thing.

The handling is supreme, as is the Porsche way. The cargo area is long but shallow at the rear. The feel of the steering wheel with the sport chrono package is sublime, too.

Sport Turismo is an excellent antidote to crossover fatigue, and it gives Porsche fans a boosted powertrain with an efficient around-town option.

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