New style, same problem

Full disclosure – I love wagons. Hell, I drive one in real life. You know, outside. Any time an automaker produces a wagon instead of another SUC, er I mean SUV, I’m usually one of the first to stand up and shake the ‘ole pompoms. Make the thing fast, and well, I couldn’t be happier. Which should make me a dead ringer for loving the Panamera Wagon, right? Not exactly. For some reason, the upcoming hatch from Stuttgart hasn’t sat right with me. For a while, I wasn’t sure why – yeah, it isn’t “pretty,” but I wouldn’t consider any modern Porsche “pretty,” at least not in the traditional sense. No, the problem here goes deeper. The problem I have isn’t really with the Panamera Wagon, or the way it looks… it’s with the people who would buy such a thing.

I understand the image you’re going for when you buy a Panamera five-door – first off, it’s a Porsche, so you know its fast, and with an MSRP that starts dangerously close to six-figures, it should be comfortable, too. Second, it’s a wagon, so it should be practical, with lots of space for people and things.

From track days to road trips, apexes to Home Depot runs, the Panamera Wagon should do it all. The problem is, it probably won’t.

Sure, the capability will be there, but the people who’ll buy this thing don’t really care about that. The selling point here is image, not reality. The idea that you could drive three hours to the racetrack, post a fast time, then pick up some lumber on the way home is far more important than actually, you know, doing it.

Still with me? Read on to see what I’m talking about.

Continue reading for the full story.

So, Now It’s Eye Candy?

2018 Porsche Panamera
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First things first – the new Panamera looks better. Some folks are calling it gorgeous, but I’d prefer to call it less ugly. Thing is, if you really look hard at it, the new model ain’t that different from the old. The biggest aesthetic differences I see are thinner taillights and a more pronounced crease on the hatch, which make the rear end appear less bulbous. The rest of it looks like any other modern Porsche.

But now everyone thinks the new Panamera is wallpaper-worthy, and that just exacerbates the problem.

The Image Broken Down

2018 Porsche Panamera
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Try to define the Panamera, and you’ll invariably be left with a lot of overlap – it’s a luxurious, speedy, sensible German sports saloon with a do-it-all attitude. Buyers plunk down their $80,000+ thinking, “Oh! I can use this for the commute, then do a little weekend racing, and pack the hatch full of luggage for a holiday!”

But once it leaves the lot, will that Panamera ever see full throttle beyond a freeway onramp? Will the rear hatch ever get packed with stuff? Probably not.

And that’s a shame, because, speaking from experience, the joys of owning a fast, practical car are numerous. For example, my WRX wagon can take me, my shifter kart, my tools, and a ton of spares straight to the track. Then once I’m done with the kart, I can disconnect the trailer, unload the rear, and make passes down the drag strip or autocross course.

Will Panamera drivers risk an oil stain in that pristine interior? How about scuffing the paint at a track day? Maybe, but I doubt it.

$80,000… For What?

2014 Porsche Panamera High Resolution Exterior
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None of this should come as a surprise, though. In the auto industry, image is king, particularly in the high-end luxury segment. The higher you go, the bigger the image – buy the car, and you get the job, the house, and the girl that goes with it. It’s a lifestyle thing.

But if you really care about speed, comfort, and practicality, an $80,000 Porsche seems pointless. It’s a very expensive compromise that will almost definitely never see its full potential.

Conclusion

Maybe I’m being too harsh. There are probably a few Panamera drivers out there who do use their car to its fullest potential. Hopefully they’ll appear in the comments section.

But if they don’t, I understand. Anyone with the means to get a new Panamera is probably too busy earning money to go to the track, or go to Home Depot, or post their opinion on the Internet.

And at the end of the day, I should be happy to see more Panameras on the road – because shit, at least it’s not a Cayenne. Those things are the worst.

What do you think?
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