Our spy photographers have spotted Porsche testing the estate version of its next-generation Panamera at the Nürburgring, one month after the model was first seen on the road.

The new car, which is due to go on sale next year as the Panamera Shooting Brake, is clearly inspired by the silhouette of the Panamera Sport Turismo concept seen at the 2012 Paris Motor Show.

The body shape increases both rear head room and boot space compared with its liftback equivalent.

The wheelbase itself looks identical to that of the saloon, suggesting rear leg room will be unchanged, but the Shooting Brake does feature a few design tweaks to go with its longer roofline. Most noticeable is a large rear spoiler and a third brake light, which is housed beneath the spoiler. Other than that, the design of this development Shooting Brake appears to be identical to that of the liftback.

Although details are yet to be confirmed, it will likely be sold in the same guises as the regular car, so models offered will range from the entry-level version to the range-topping Turbo S. The regular car will rival the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Audi A8, but the Shooting Brake’s estate body will help the model’s appeal extend beyond the remits of those cars.

Insiders are suggesting the next-generation Panamera will follow the trend set by the Cayenne and be made available with more hybrid engines, extending its rivalry to models such as the Mercedes CLS and its Shooting Brake equivalent. The Mercedes is available with anything from a 220d diesel to a 577bhp AMG CLS63 S, so a more comprehensive range of mid-range engines would help give the Panamera a more comparable line-up.

There’s no official word on a launch date for the Panamera and the Panamera Shooting Brake, but these pictures of both models testing suggest they’re due to arrive close to each other. Insiders expect the regular Panamera to land late this year, with the Shooting Brake following in early 2017. The five-door Shooting Brake will likely be priced slightly higher than the four-door, which we expect to start from about £60,000.

Source: www.autocar.co.uk