There's a saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Say hello, then, to what has to be one of the world's maddest estates: the updated Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo, here in monster 630hp Turbo S format.
In the metal
Like the other Panameras updated for the 2021 model year, the Turbo S Sport Turismo has only modest detail changes inside and out, although - on the latter score - it's the only 'G2 II' facelifted Panamera to have a twin-bar light detail in its front bumper; that's how you know you're looking at the 'top dog' Porsche if you can't see the back of it. So, once again, the major change here is to the drivetrain, with the old Panamera Turbo's revered 4.0-litre V8 motor taken up from its previous peaks of 550hp and 770Nm to bonkers new highs of 630hp and 820Nm. We mean, seriously, Porsche - was such a power development strictly necessary? Anyway, for now, the Turbo S is the flagship of the updated range, although the Turbo S E-Hybrid is supposed to be making a comeback... and, presumably, now it will have to have in excess of 700hp to make any sense whatsoever. Right?
Gracious, this is speed. We tried the Turbo S as a Sport Turismo on the road and also as a regular Panamera on the undulating, formidable and downright demented Bilster Berg track to the east of Paderborn in Germany, but in either environment the way this 2,135kg Panamera piles on the pace is just preposterous. It goes breezily past 220km/h like many other cars tick off 100km/h and, while there's maybe a hint of lag to the delivery if you catch it out in Normal mode (and we mean the merest 'hint'), once the all-wheel-drive powertrain and the eight-speed PDK are hooked up to the wheels, the horizon is suddenly well within your reach. It goes, the Turbo S. It goes exactly as thunderously, outrageously quickly as you'd expect looking at a set of stats that read 0-100km/h in 3.1 seconds, 0-160km/h in 7.2 seconds, 0-200km/h in 11.2 seconds and a top speed of 315km/h. We'll once more point out here that this is an estate, not some low-slung, aerodynamic, mid-engined supercar.
Moving on, there are also some lovely, lovely noises emanating from under the bonnet and from out of the exhaust of the ultimate Sport Turismo, although Porsche never quite lets its V8s sing the most raucous of tunes, like some rival companies do. Despite this, the sound of the Panamera Turbo S only enhances and amplifies the sensation of speed that the car possesses in such raw abundance, so in terms of its jaw-dropping drivetrain you have to give this thing full marks.
Despite that chunky kerb weight, the Turbo S handles beautifully as well, with almost all of the lissom poise and adjustability of the best Porsche products. It doesn't matter that this is a practical five-door wagon; when you have the car configured in Sport Plus mode, you'll be operating top-notch steering and marvelling at fabulous damping, which allows the Panamera to bely its mass and feel smaller to place on the road than its sheer physicality would have you expect. If there's any drawbacks to note here, it's that the broad spread of operating parameters the Turbo S must fulfil means that Porsche has just slackened its damping off a touch when compared to a GTS Panamera, so it is ever so marginally less entertaining and composed to drive right at the limits of grip.
This doesn't stop the Turbo S putting in a phenomenal display on the Bilster Berg track, a 4.2km-long rollercoaster that is emphatically not the sort of circuit that would ordinarily suit a two-tonne executive limo. You want a vehicle that's light and nimble here, so the idea of taking some of the blind, cresting turns in the Panamera is considerably daunting beforehand. However, the car's on-the-limit throttle adjustability and substantial levels of feedback mean you can exploit its talented chassis to the utmost, even if the road in front of you is going up, down, left and right as wildly as a cork being tossed about in the middle of a stormy ocean. That's a rare level of talent in any automotive sector, never mind the one occupied by large, plush, comfortable cars such as the Panamera.
What you get for your money
The Turbo S comes with the most standard equipment of all Panameras, including (but not limited to) three-chamber air suspension, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Plus (PDCC Plus), Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus), Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) and Rear-Axle Steering (RAS), but the pay-off for this kit list - plus the searing pace of the V8 engine - is a price tag that, for a Sport Turismo, starts at €251,544. Whether you think it's worth it or not depends on whether you want incontestable bragging rights, or whether you spot that there's a model in the Panamera line-up that'll do 99.9999 per cent of what the Turbo S can do, only for a reduced price...
You don't need this car; no one does, truthfully. But that doesn't make the Porsche Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo any the less blindingly brilliant. Rarely has such a ludicrously fast car felt as accessible and enjoyable as this, and if you're after a car that's capable of doing everything to a very high standard, this has got to be one of the rare few in existence in with a shout of achieving such stratospheric heights. Indeed, if it weren't for the presence of another V8 model in the updated Panamera's line-up one that is considerably cheaper than the €250,000-plus Turbo S Sport Turismo, then this gobsmacking, sensational car would be getting top marks overall.