Twenty years ago, a Porsche station wagon would have been quite unthinkable - perhaps something a car-crazed sultan might have commissioned.
Today, the Panamera Sport Turismo is as real as the Porsche 911. And surprisingly, nearly as sporty. At least, in the way it sounds.
The test unit, a base Panamera 4 Sport Turismo, starts up with a loud and convincing chorus of lions, rockets and bass drums.
On the go, it maintains a soft baritone, which rises to a growl and then a roar with increasing pressure to the right pedal.
The car is powered by a familiar 3-litre turbocharged V6 last tested in the long-wheelbase Panamera Executive. It produces 330hp and 450Nm from 1,340rpm, channelled to all four wheels via a refined eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
With Sport Chrono pack, the Stuttgart wagon will hit 100kmh in 5.3 seconds and a top speed of 259kmh. Not too long ago, the 911 Turbo would have had similar figures in its specs sheet.
SPECS / PORSCHE PANAMERA 4 SPORT TURISMO
Price: $398,388 without COE
Engine: 2,995cc 24-valve V6 turbocharged
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch with paddle shift
Power: 330hp at 5,400rpm
Torque: 450Nm at 1,340-4,900rpm
0-100kmh: 5.3 seconds
Top speed: 259kmh
Fuel consumption: 7.9 litres/100km
Agent: Porsche Centre Singapore
Other than its more vocal disposition, the Panamera Sport Turismo feels identical to its saloon sibling. It is not the most agile Porsche around, but it certainly acquits itself better than most cars its size. And little wonder - the two have the same length, width and wheelbase.
It is, however, slightly taller - 1,428mm versus the saloon's 1,423mm. And with a roofline which extends farther back before joining the tailgate, the Sport Turismo offers more interior space.
With rear seats folded, it has 1,390 litres of storage space. But if all seats are occupied, the volume is 520 litres - merely 20 litres more than the saloon's.
Its raised roofline and massive wide-angle powered tailgate make for easier access to the boot area. (You get more head clearance.)
The car's loading height of just 63cm - or just a mite over two feet off the ground - adds to easier loading and unloading. The cargo floor is flat, squarish and with fewer intrusions than the saloon's. In other words, it has lots of usable space.
Useful elastic nets on either side help to keep smaller items from rolling about and a privacy shelf hides things from prying eyes.
Still, it is hard to justify forking out about $400,000 for a station wagon. A Volvo V90 T6 R-Design AWD - which does the century sprint in 6.1 seconds, peaks at 250kmh and has a 500-litre boot - is some $150,000 less costly.
Sure, the Volvo is a shade less sterling when push comes to shove, but it is just as driveable and breezy in the local context.
Then again, it is hard to quantify the undeniable brand appeal of a Porsche. Also, the Panamera Sport Turismo has a more entertaining soundtrack.
Lastly, the sheer audacity of a Porsche station wagon is in itself appealing. You get a sports car, an estate and a limousine all rolled into one.
And you do not even have to be a sultan to own one.