Calling all iconoclasts: the coolest car that Porsche makes may not be that 911 Turbo you’ve been drooling over. It might just be a wagon, of all things, that drives with the life-affirming feedback of a sports car yet fits four adults plus their luggage. Here’s why: The Panamera sedan arrived in 2009, and while car geeks worked themselves into a lather over its bulbous rear end, the car actually felt low-key brilliant behind the wheel. About a year ago, Porsche debuted a version with a lower, wider look and a rear end resculpted as if it went through months of hot yoga and barre classes.
The story gets even better with the arrival of the Sport Turismo, a wagon variant of the Panamera. In real-world use, it’s a better car: Open the hatch and you can load nearly 50 cubic feet of gear. Plus, the raised roofline gives more headroom to passengers in the rear seat. All of whom will be wowed by the planted-in-the-corners handling and gutsy performance of the base 330-horsepower V6 and 550-horsepower V8 engine, as we found out in a harrowing drive on Vancouver Island’s logging routes. And if you need further proof that this wagon’s really a secret sports car, look to the Turbo’s roof, where an active spoiler can create added downforce when you’re hauling ass or improve fuel economy when you’re not.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of a luxury wagon, you’re in luck: We are in the midst of a renaissance. Jaguar just released the lust-worthy XF S Sportbrake (from $70,450), a handsome, all-wheel-drive version of its XF sedan that has been available in Europe for years but denied to American drivers. It joins the recent arrival of the Volvo V90 (from $49,950), with a cabin that’s a wood-paneled Scandinavian sanctuary. Last but not least, there’s the sublime Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon, which never really went away. Of course, it’s best in AMG E 63 S trim (from $106,950), with a 603-horsepower V8. And just like the top-tier Panamera Sport Turismo, it’s ridiculously fast and comically loud.
MSRP: From $96,200
Zero To 60: 5.2 seconds (V6)