It’s one or the other, whether Porsche admits it or not.
At first glance it would seem the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo is a proper estate wagon. And why not? It has four doors, a rear hatch, a rear seat that folds down, and a longer roof. Peruse through the recent press release on the Sport Turismo, however, and you’ll not find a single mention of the word. Nor will you see hatchback, because presumably, hatchbacks are tiny inexpensive runabouts driven by adolescents or homely suburban types who frequent antique auctions.
As far as Porsche is concerned, this is an all-new category of vehicle called Sport Turismo. Obviously some marketing-speak is happening here, but it brings to light a larger, more interesting question. In the age of crossovers and hatchbacks, what exactly is the Panamera Sport Turismo?
To find out, we start with the automobile’s best friend, the United States government. The Environmental Protection Agency establishes vehicle classes for fuel economy comparisons, and a quick visit to fueleconomy.gov says size classes are determined solely by interior passenger and cargo volumes. That’s not going to be much help to us, and since the Panamera Sport Turismo isn’t listed yet with the EPA, we don’t know Uncle Sam’s specific opinion.
While not exactly government-spec, the Highway Loss Data Institute is a non-profit organization widely supported by the auto insurance industry in the U.S., and its approach to data collection has been mimicked by similar outfits around the world. This organization classifies modern station wagons as having four doors, a rear hatch, and most importantly, a D-pillar. Now we’re getting somewhere.
Typical sedans end with the C-pillar – the point where the roof connects to the rear quarter panel of the body. Station wagons, however, will have another side window behind the C-pillar, following the roof as it extends back over the cargo area to connect with the D-pillar, which meets the body at the rear of the quarter panel.
Taken in profile, the Panamera Sport Turismo absolutely meets this criteria. After the C-pillar we have a window – albeit a small one – that follows an extended roof over the cargo area to connect with the D-pillar. This also explains why the Panamera sedan qualifies as a five-door hatchback – the roof ends at the C-pillar and the cargo area is covered by the extremely raked rear glass.
With that explained, here’s where things get a bit muddy because just about every crossover vehicle fits the wagon definition. The difference lies with the platform, specifically on-road versus off-road. Wagons are obviously on-road designs, but crossovers are a gray area because, well, they cross over multiple genres. Most are car-based but still offer a bit of off-road DNA, even if it’s just a bit of extra ground clearance. According to some, they’re wagons. Others point to the SUV-like qualities and say no. Some call them hatchbacks. Many simply take them as a unique category, and if we’re honest, that will likely be debated for some time.
Unfortunately for Porsche, there is clear evidence to draw a conclusion on the Panamera Sport Turismo. It’s purely car-based, with side windows that extend beyond the C-pillar. It has a D-pillar that connects to the rear of the body, and a proper roof covers the cargo area. The marketing teams in Stuttgart can say what they want, but the world will know – and welcome – the Sport Turismo as Porsche’s new station wagon. And there’s not a single thing wrong with that.