Porsche plans to introduce its first station wagon at the Geneva auto show next year, a move further stretching the brand’s portfolio beyond the iconic 911 sports car into a more utilitarian segment, according to people familiar with the strategy.
A wagon version of Porsche’s revamped Panamera four-door coupe is due to go on sale in the months following the March show, said the people, who asked not to be identified before an official announcement. The variant would mark Porsche’s latest venture beyond its sports-car roots after branching out into SUVs with the Cayenne in 2002.
The Panamera wagon would compete with the Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake to appeal to a rare breed of buyer seeking a mix of luxury and practicality. The new Porsche is set to be based partly on the Sport Turismo design concept that the Volkswagen AG unit showed at the Paris auto show in 2012. Porsche declined to comment.
The brand, which nearly went bust in the 1990s, has been enjoying record demand in recent years based on a strategy of building off the cache of the 911 with models more suited to everyday driving. Broadening the Panamera’s appeal is part of an expansion plan that also includes Porsche’s first all-electric sports car by 2020. The sporty marque’s profit is vital for Volkswagen as it retools to absorb the roughly 18 billion euros ($20 billion) in costs for the emissions-cheating scandal.
Porsche has sold more than 150,000 Panameras since the car’s rollout in 2009, but deliveries waned as the model aged. It’s questionable to what extent a wagon version will help. The body style is mainly popular in Europe, while in the U.S. and China, Porsche’s biggest markets, customers who want space and luxury tend to opt for upscale sport utility vehicles, such as Porsche’s Cayenne and Macan. Still, the costs to develop such a derivative are moderate, and Mercedes has enjoyed success by reeling in new buyers with the wagon version of the CLS.
The design of the original Panamera caused controversy among sports-car aficionados and was mocked in motor press reviews as looking like a “humpback whale.” The model’s second generation was introduced in June and has a reworked rear featuring design elements from the 911.
Porsche plans to unveil a hybrid version of the Panamera at the Paris motor show later this month. The all-wheel-drive car has a purely electric range of 50 kilometers (30 miles) and can accelerate to 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) in 4.6 seconds. The model starts in Germany at 107,553 euros ($120,795), including value added tax.
There’s a lot at stake for Porsche after it invested 500 million euros to consolidate Panamera production at its factory in Leipzig, Germany, along with the Macan. The Panamera is also important for Volkswagen, because it serves as the basis for other models, including the Bentley Continental.