Porsche Chases Ferrari With a Superfast Station Wagon
Some 550 horses under the hood and a spoiler. When Porsche executives decide to make a station wagon, they don’t do it like everyone else.
The storied sports car maker has blown out the back of its Panamera sedan and added a big swinging hatch in a bid for the small crowd of consumers who carry cargo but still aren’t keen on SUVs. We’ve known it was coming for months, but Porsche just unveiled the first photos of its new wagon. The automaker will be pulling the cover off five different versions at next week’s auto show in Geneva, including a diesel and a Sport Turismo, the überturbo that lets the driver think he is lapping the Nürburgring, rather than driving 9-year-olds to soccer practice.
There’s a mantra at Porsche's Weissach Development Center just outside of Stuttgart: First, it must be a Porsche. If the company's engineers and designers are a tribe of zen aesthetes, this is their koan. The application: “If we are going to make a 4,500 pound SUV that can crawl up mountain scree, we first must make sure it looks beautiful, drives like a dream, and speeds like a demon.”
In short, don’t expect any Family Truckster DNA in Porsche’s new wagon. The company smartly waited to update its Panamera before warping it into a wagon. As such, the vehicle is stuffed with the latest and greatest stuff out of Weissach. For example, the rear wheels pivot to help the big rig corner, an engineering marvel that makes the car feel much smaller than it is. The cockpit is thoroughly reworked with a massive split touch-screen in the center stack and a dearth of buttons. Higher trims come with air suspension and 21-inch wheels.
And then there is that spoiler—on the roof, mind you. If one doesn’t have a pile of groceries or toddlers weighing down the rear of the car, this will come in handy. It automatically extends when the car hits 56 mph to push the vehicle more firmly down onto its tires. One can also extend it when the car is parked, a mode the Porsche folks call “the popped collar.”
On the road, the new Porsche may not be a far cry from Ferrari’s FF, a hatchback that tops 200 mph.
The wonder wagons can be ordered now but won’t show up until October. Make no mistake, Porsche won’t sell many: For one thing, they are dear, starting at around $96,000 and stretching up to $154,000 for a bare-bones version of the Sport Turismo.
What’s more, wagons have largely lost their swagger to SUVs, particularly in the U.S. Americans bought only 77,000 stations wagons last year, according to Edmunds. That’s less than half a percent of all vehicle sales.
But generally, people don’t buy Porsches to fit in on a crowded interstate. And most Porschephiles aren't point-A-to-point-B commuters. They rattle off performance stats like teenage boys, and they care about cornering. Porsche's new wagon should do that far better than either of its SUVs.