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11 January 2013

E-cig on four wheels: The Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Concept

Words by Carl Trocio | Photos courtesy of Porsche AG
panamerastc mainPorsche gives in to tree huggers yet again. The Stuttgart-based company recently unveiled the Panamera Sport Turismo Concept to display the proper marriage of “drive technology” and “evolution of the Porsche design for tomorrow.” I guess what they're trying to say is, it's the latest hybrid from Porsche and it hints of what Porsches eventually will look like in the near future.
The Sport Turismo is poised as the leaner and more athletic version of the already-potent Panamera. With the vital statistics of 1,990 mm in width, 1,401 mm in height, and 4,950mm in length, it has shorter overhangs, a lower roofline, and wider track than Porsche's current “super four” (supercars with four doors). Major surgery has also been done on its once-bulbous posterior, but it still undoubtedly looks like a Porsche from behind. And in their pursuit to somehow improve aerodynamics, they eliminated any unsightly protrusions from the body, like the side mirrors. In their place are two rear-facing cameras mounted on the side ducts which are then broadcasted live in the cockpit.
The geekiness doesn't end there. Turn signals are then integrated into the c-shaped foglamps mounted on the huge air vents upfront. Four-point LED headlights complete the front mugshot. Likewise, the rear light panel is bathed with even more LEDs. As an added bonus, that carbon rear spoiler is actually adaptive to keep the Super Turismo on the road.
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It seems like Porsche engineers are a bit too attached to their tablets and iPads, and it shows through the tricked out interior of the Sport Turismo. TFT displays have taken over the classic instrument panels, while a touch screen display on the center console stands in for the regular knobs and buttons that control seating position, A/C, lights, cameras, and most of the action. With this technology, there is just too much touchy but no feely. It means that the driver must do double duties to focus on the road while navigating through the controls.
But the geekiest part about the Panamera Sport Turismo is its power source. Aside from the 333hp 3.0L supercharged V6, a new 95hp electric motor gives this concept some spark. Together, it can launch this runner to 100 km/h from a standstill in less than six seconds. It can also reach a top speed of 130 km/h running on batteries and cover a distance of 30 kilometers. This Panamera isn't a thirsty sucker either in a combo run reaching 28.57 km/L.
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Like most modern toys, the Sport Turismo runs on Lithium-ion batteries, which is a huge upgrade from the nickel-hydride battery that’s currently used. This means more storage capacity and higher amp draws, allowing for spiffy acceleration, longer distances, and higher speeds without the use of the internal combustion engine. Moreover, the battery comes with a universal charger that fits in a wall socket, so not only can it be charged while driving, it can also be charged at home.
Like an E-cigarette, it’s bigger, shaped funky, and has electronics to substitute smoke and fire. You know it’s a cigarette, but it doesn't quite feel like the real deal. The intrusion of a little too much technology displaces the real essence of the exercise, be it in smoking or driving. There’s nothing like the experience of rawness, where all your senses are focused on the pleasures of driving with the bare necessities. But I guess it’s the compromise for the future.