The three-car dream garage IS a constantly evolving couple of gigabytes in my almost-full brain. It’s actually such a part of my life that my two pre-teen children often join in. My son even comes up with his own set of parameters that makes the task even more memory sapping. His latest spin on the game was that one of the three had to be a track-only car and another had to be capable of towing said track car.
Like his old man, my son is a bit of a Porsche nut, and from the backseat of a Panamera Sport Turismo GTS, he asked whether it could serve as the tow car for his fantasy Porsche 935. I’m not sure of its ability to haul a GT2 RS-based track monster, but I do know that the Panamera Sport Turismo GTS has now cemented itself on my dream-garage list as the jack-of-all-trades family hauler.
I’d previously fallen under the spell of the Sport Turismo Turbo – a car of incredible performance, luxury and refinement – but there’s something about the GTS that appeals to a greater degree. And for someone who hasn’t met a horsepower he didn’t like, that’s an odd realisation.
The Panamera GTS features the same twin-turbocharged V8, eight-speed PDK and all-wheel-drive system as found in the Turbo and Turbo S E-Hybrid models that sit above it in Porsche’s hierarchy. For the GTS, the V8 cops a detune to 338kW and 620Nm. In isolation, these are still impressive numbers and provide the GTS with strong performance (more on this in a moment), but they pale next to the 404kW, 770Nm Turbo or the bonkers-spec 500kW, 850Nm Turbo S E-Hybrid. But while that’s a sizeable cull of ponies, Porsche hasn’t been as brutal with the haircut that it’s given the price. Starting at $374,800, the Sport Turismo GTS is just $23,500 less expensive than the full-fat Turbo (the Turbo S E-Hybrid lands on your driveway with a $473,500 thud). Perhaps most damning is that the GTS’s V8 only outmuscles the twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 4S model by 14kW and 70Nm. Oh, and the 4S starts at $324,200. It’s understandable, then, that for some, the GTS will be seen as poor value.
Those same observers will no doubt also cite the GTS’s claimed performance relative to its brawnier brothers as further evidence of the value not stacking up. Again, in isolation, the 4.1-second 0-100km/h and 289km/h top speed are mighty numbers for a luxury family hauler. But the Turbo is a full half-second quicker to 100km/h, an advantage it stretches to 1.2 seconds by the time 160km/h is up and its power is starting to tell. Its 304km/h top speed is another academic advantage.
But like the very best cars, and often a trait exhibited by Porsches, the driving experience of the GTS is very much more than the sum of its impressive parts. Because it’s not crazy quick, you’re able to lean on the chassis more, linger on the throttle longer and lunge onto the brakes a fraction later.
Rather than dive straight into its vast well of mid-range torque, the twin-turbocharged V8 builds and soars in a linear manner, further drawing you in to the process of driving. Perhaps it’s my ears playing tricks on my memory, but I’d even suggest that the engine and exhaust notes are crisper and more natural than those of the Turbo. The eight-speed gearbox even seems happier with its reduced workload, delivering quicker and more decisive shifts.
But it’s the chassis that really sparkles in GTS spec. As you’d expect from the optional 21-inch rubber (275/35 front, 315/30 rear), the outright grip is enormous, but it’s the way that the big Panamera telegraphs grip limits that marks it out as something special. Given the 2025kg mass of the car, it’s no surprise to find settling understeer on the menu if you’re too eager, but let the GTS float through this phase and it reveals its natural athleticism. The steering communicates when the understeer has morphed into neutrality and the chassis can begin to attack the corner exit.
There are quicker and cheaper luxury wagons (both Audi and Mercedes-AMG offer some of the very best), but there is something very special about the Panamera Sport Turismo. Now, what’s its towing capacity? Jesse Taylor
Engine 3996cc V8, twin-turbocharged
Power 338kW @ 6000-6500rpm
Torque 620Nm @ 1800-4500rpm
Weight 2025kg (167kW/tonne)
Top speed 289km/h
Basic price $374,800