Americans can be so ethnocentric at times that we forget the rest of the world doesn't necessarily share our taste in vehicles. Case in point: station wagons. With the exception of diehard wagon enthusiasts, and a certain subclass of well-to-do suburbanites, most Americans have voted with their greenbacks and turn their backs on the station wagon. Instead, they continue to embrace the "bigger is better" mindset and purchased minivans, SUVs, and now crossovers. The rest of the world, though, continues to drive station wagons. Porsche is the latest to jump into the estate market (that's Euro-speak for station wagon to you Yanks) with the introduction of the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo concept. Basically a Porsche Panamera with the roofline stretched back to give it a proper wagon shape, rather than a hatchback, this concept offers all the traditional advantages of station wagons over sedans (i.e., more rear row head room and cargo space) while the driving experience expected from, well, a Porsche Panamera.
Who's It For
Station wagons are ubiquitous in the European market, so we're not shocked Porsche is looking to put a tire or four into the market with the Panamera Sport Turismo concept. It probably doesn't hurt that the Porsche Cayenne mid-sized crossover and Panamera sedan brought new buyers--families--into the show rooms. Especially the U.S., where both are profit-makers for the nominally sports car company.
Still, direct rivals to the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo concept. Especially the concept part. Right now the only comparable one is the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Shooting Brake concept which made its debut at the 2010 Beijing Motor Show. If Porsche gives the green light, direct competitors would expand to include the Mercedes-Benz E-Class AMG station wagon and BMW's European estate offerings. A case could be made for the Cadillac CTS-V sports wagon as well.
Porsche would be aware of such competition, which could explain why the Panamera Sport Turismo concept is a plug-in hybrid. The Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo concept, unsurprisingly, borrows the electric motor-gasoline engine powertrain from the Porsche Panamera S and Cayenne hybrids. The automaker says the Panamera station wagon concept can travel up to 18 miles on pure electricity before the supercharged V-6 engine kicks in. Combined horsepower for the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo concept is a shock-to-the-system 416 ponies. Porsche says the Panamera wagon concept can go from zero to 60 mph in less than six seconds. We believe it.
What We Think
While we haven't heard much movement from Mercedes-Benz about its CLS-Class Shooting Brake concept, we more optimistic about Porsche giving the go-ahead to the Panamera Sport Turismo to go from concept to production in next few years. Don't expect the Porsche wagon to travel over to the States, though. We Yanks like the Porsche Cayenne, thank you very much, and plan to open up our wallets when the smaller (and still oddly named) Porsche Macan crossover goes into production in 2013. On the other hand, Porsche purists can breathe a sigh of relief that another abomination won't be affronting their senses already damaged by the Cayenne and Panamera's very existence.
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