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2019 Porsche Panamera GTS Sport Turismo

Almost the perfect winter whip

Billy RehbockWriter, Photograper

Brown wagons. Within the automotive community, brown station wagons are both a meme and a legitimate target of enthusiasm. Why do we lust after these chocolate chariots? Perhaps it's the desire to own an outlandishly expensive car, configured in what would stereotypically be a librarian's specification. It could also be that the prospect of owning something fast yet incognito is all too tantalizing for us to resist.

Fortunately, we didn't have to resist; Porsche offered us this 2019 Porsche Panamera GTS Sport Turismo to drive over the holidays. The five-door five-seater arrived optioned with Mahogany Metallic paint and blacked-out badging and trim, giving us the opportunity to explore the glories of the brown long-roofed vehicle for an entire week.

The GTS trim level has long been viewed by the automotive media as the "Goldilocks" zone when buying a Porsche. It offers a lot of the equipment that's optional on the "S" trim as standard in a package with the right mix of performance and daily convenience. Our car came standard with a leather and Alcantara interior, a heated steering wheel and front seats, Porsche's Sport Chrono package, and a performance exhaust. When all is told, it's a great starting point for an awesome all-rounder.

Equipped with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8, the Panamera GTS packs a meaty 453 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque. All of this goodness is routed to all four wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Porsche says that this hardware makes the wagon good for a 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 179 mph. It didn't take many launches—which the wagon delivers with savage intensity—from a stoplight to make me wonder if the given acceleration figure might be a smidge conservative.

Although its sticker price is a hefty $144,520, when we say "lightly optioned" we mean it. This test car arrived with about $10,000 of options onboard, an act of extraordinary restraint given the seemingly never-ending nature of the Porsche configurator. So where did the ten grand go? The paint adds $830, the 21-inch "Turbo Design" wheels are $2,160, the soft-close doors are $780, and the very handy combination of "Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport) including Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus)" is $5,000. That last one is a mouthful but it's just Porsche speak for active roll stabilization and electronic torque vectoring.

Together, these options are pretty much all that's necessary for a very compelling daily driver for an enthusiast. The tires that came along with the car were simply massive. Under hard acceleration or enthusiastic cornering the Panamera GTS has unyielding grip, as proven with a winding run up and down Mt. Hamilton in my native Northern California.

It's worth spending $5,000 on PDCC Sport and PTV Plus as well. The car rotates beautifully on tight roads with laser-accurate steering feel. There's just enough heft when the driver turns the wheel, allowing for highly predictable outputs. On freeways, the Panamera GTS tracks with laser precision. This option also includes an air suspension system, which raises and lowers in response to the way the vehicle is being driven or as a result of which drive mode is selected. This was particularly useful when entering my parents' steep driveway; I set the diamond-shaped "joker" button on the steering wheel to toggle the raised position on and off. I never scraped the nose during the entire holiday, so I give this feature an unequivocal thumbs up.

Aside from the stealthy brown and black color combo, I had another reason to be excited to chaperone the Panamera GTS Sport Turismo for the holidays. My dad is a former first-generation Panamera S owner (his was painted green with a tan interior), having since purchased a Golf R as a daily driver. I was really curious to see what he'd think about this all-new model, especially because his latest purchase was partly driven by a desire for another rear seat for a fifth passenger.

I asked him to share his thoughts about this new second-generation Panamera. "The Panamera Sport Turismo GTS managed to check all of the tick-boxes that I wished I had on my 2010 Panamera S." He adds, "The convenience of having a 5-seater when needed, an extra 50 HP and 88 lb-ft of torque, and all-wheel drive round out the car to be a delight both as a daily driver and having some fun on weekends."

My dad was also impressed, as I was, with the adjustable ride height. As a long-time member of the video game industry, he appreciates high-quality displays and graphics, so he also noted that "the updated telematics are appreciated, and the high quality online connected navigation kept me from missing Android Auto." The one thing he really felt was missing was adaptive cruise capabilities, although that would necessitate a further options package.

A couple key standard features could make this wagon perfect, rather than simply great. I configured the test car we borrowed on Porsche's web builder and figured out that it only needs the "Premium Plus Package," which includes keyless entry, soft close doors, heated rear seats, lane change assist, an upgraded Bose sound system, and the fancy LED headlights (complete with a built-in cleaning system!). That group of really useful equipment costs $4,510—small potatoes when the GTS Sport Turismo starts at $135,750 after the delivery and processing fee. Plus, it wouldn't necessitate the inclusion of soft-close doors as a standalone option, so in reality it would only be $3,730 over our as-tested price.

If it's not readily evident, I was utterly smitten with the Panamera GTS Sport Turismo. Brown wagon life truly is worth the hype-no one talked to me about my car, allowing me to cruise around my hometown in utter stealth and comfort. It's great to be home for the holidays, but it's even better when there's time spent cruising around in something as badass as this wagon.

2019 Porsche Panamera GTS Sport Turismo Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $135,750 /$144,520  (base/as tested)
ENGINE lb-ft @ 1,800-4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD wagon
EPA MILEAGE 15/22 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 198.9 x 85.2 x 55.8 in
WHEELBASE 116.1 in
WEIGHT 4,554 lb
0-60 MPH 3.9 seconds
TOP SPEED 181 mph