Porsche has provided the clearest hint yet that its long-held plans of expanding the Panamera lineup to include a sporting wagon are real with the unveiling of the Panamera Sport Turismo concept at the Paris auto show.
The concept showcases, for the first time, a plug-in version of Porsche's gasoline-electric hybrid system. The car is one of at least three new Panamera-based models that have been under consideration at Porsche since the car was launched in 2009.
Key visual changes over the existing Panamera include an extended roofline, a longer glasshouse and an angled tailgate that opens at bumper height.
The unveiling of the rival Mercedes-Benz CLS shooting brake at the Paris show will coincide with Porsche boss Mathias Muller confirming the new style-led wagon will form part of the second-generation Panamera lineup.
The new Panamera's platform will be shared with future Bentley models as part of closer engineering ties between the two Volkswagen Group companies.
The new car also gives Porsche a potential four-door challenger to the similarly styled but two-door-only Ferrari FF.
"The body concept of the Panamera Sport Turismo is an outlook on a possible Porsche sports car of tomorrow," says Muller, without providing any official time line for the introduction of the production version. However, sources close to Porsche say the new wagon will debut in 2016, with production set for the company's Leipzig-based factory, which also turns out the Cayenne and is set to handle production of the upcoming Macan.
Porsche says it investigated spinning a wagon off the current Panamera design, but the high cost of re-engineering the rear body structure, including vital changes to the bulkhead to open up the loading area, proved prohibitive.
As such, the new model has been integrated into the development process of the second-generation Panamera lineup from the start, ensuring its production can be amortized with other models.
"In terms of the overall concept, the wagon is not too far removed from the liftback. Both use a large tailgate, with the structure engineered appropriately to suit both," Porsche told Autoweek, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe.
The decision to push ahead with plans for a Panamera wagon has been driven by customer feedback, Porsche says. "We have existing Panamera owners who seek greater practicality but don't necessarily see the Cayenne as a solution."
While no official figures have been quoted for the size of its luggage compartment, the Panamera Sport Turismo is said to offer seven cubic feet more than the Panamera liftback, which holds 15.7 cubic feet, on the European test procedure. This would place it close to the Audi A6 Avant, which is good for 20.0 cubic feet, and the Mercedes CLS shooting brake at 20.8 cubic feet.