Courtesy of Porsche. Photo illustration for editorial purposes.
The Coolest Cars Right Now Are Wagons
One (possibly delusional) man’s argument for the nexus of high fashion and long cars.
You, a philistine, probably believe that station wagons are dorky. That they always have been, and always will be. But I, a genius, know otherwise: wagons, right this moment, are actually extremely cool.
First, you should know we’re in the midst of a wagon resurgence led by the world’s swankiest car manufacturers. From BMW and Mercedes and Volvo—long-time wagon believers—to newcomers like Jaguar, Ferrari, and Porsche, the high-end has been putting a luxe sheen on this historically dweeby automotive category. These cars are all varying degrees of muscular, expensive, and off-beat handsome, like Benedict Cumberbatch. Inside they’re all leather-lined, pin-drop quiet, and technology-laden. One of them has 550-horsepower. Two of them have more.
There’s a certain timely logic to the wagon-aissance, arising just as Dad Style blossoms into a genuine high fashion movement. Dad Style, as interpreted by menswear’s leading vibe influencers, takes all the sartorial hallmarks of stereotypical dad-ness—the aversion to sleekness, the devotion to the tao of “relaxed fit,” the deep, almost sexual attraction to practicality—and then smashes them together with luxury craftsmanship. It’s important to note that individual dads aren’t cool. But their trend-oblivious ethos is what’s being absorbed and reconstituted into, ironically, fashion’s newest trend.
Thus the universal dad-love of orthopedic blobular sneakers leads to the hyper-lumpy $850 Balenciaga Triple-S, streetwear’s current must-have status symbol. Been-around-forever outdoorsy brands like Patagonia, Carhartt, and Columbia are now repped by guys who have Virgil Abloh’s cell phone number. Fishing vests don’t have to be worn while fishing, I have heard GQ senior style editor Noah Johnson exclaim. Luxury and utility and challenging aesthetics have been mashed together into coolness.
How Many Groceries Can You Fit Into a McLaren?
You know what’s also luxe and useful and aesthetically unexpected? A $175,000 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo with 550-horsepower and enough trunk space to carry a Great Dane (or three with the back seats down). It’s a wild sensation, strafing the byways of America with such an esoteric vehicle. You can see the confusion on drivers’ faces: Is that…a Porsche…station wagon…doing 90?
I also took the Jaguar XF-S Sportbrake for a weekend jaunt. It’s brawny and rakish, just like its sedan brother. The extended-length XF-S is also an automotive mullet: party up front, thanks to a gutsy 340-horsepower supercharged V-6, and business in the rear, what with almost 70 cubic feet of trunk space. Installing my kid’s car seat forced me to lie prone inside the trunk, sniper-style, my legs dangling out of the hatch. It’s cavernous in here, I noted gleefully. (Full disclosure: I’m a dad.)
These swagged-out, road-mowing wagons, I realized, are the gentlemanly way to have your mid-life crisis and drive the kids to soccer practice, too. All weekend, the Jag—painted a very un-dadly candy apple red with ink black wheels—received shout-outs. As I rumbled up to a McDonald’s drive-thru (you’re not better than me), a dad leading his family inside said, “Cool car!” Just like that, with the exclamation point and everything. A Brooklyn guy in sporty-dad costume—a.k.a., acres of Lycra and a multi-thousand-dollar road bike—shouted, “Awesome ride!” as he trundled past me at a stoplight. And the most dad human I’ve ever seen—a coiffed-white-hair, sweater-over-slacks, Lexus-land-yacht-having dad-type—caught sight of the Jag and commented. “Beautiful car,” he said. “Is it a Ferrari? [a beat as he takes in its splendid length] Wait, is it a wagon?” No, but yes, I replied. Then we talked about whether he’d lease a new Lexus soon, because dads gonna dad.
That these particular dads were drawn to the economy-size Jag like moths to Haggar pleated slacks proved its off-the-charts Dad Style quotient. According to Jaguar, 85 percent of Sportbrake buyers will be men, and they’ll have a 69 percent higher income than the average Jaguar customer. It’s the same for most every wagon manufacturer. Dads like wagons. Dads are currently cool. Q.E.D: Wagons are cool.
At least, I’m pretty sure. When my dad asked why I had the Jaguar for the weekend, I told him I was using it to prove my theory.
“Yeah?” he said. And then he looked me in the eyes. “There has never, ever been a cool wagon.”
The It’s-a-Porsche Wagon
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
From the company that brought you the ne plus ultra of sports cars, the 911, comes a 911 you can family in. Whether you get the 550-horsepower Turbo that I drove, or the mildly eco-friendly Hybrid, or any of the more plebeian variants, you still have what’s important: a Porsche.
The Raunchy Wagon
Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 Wagon
Mercedes’ 603-horsepower cruise missile may be even more absurd than a Ferrari that can fit a child safety seat. Case in point: Along with all the normal save-your-ass tech, the E63 Wagon includes a Drift Mode—you know, for drifting your wagon. Probably best used after you’ve dropped the kids at school.
The Wagon for Men Who Grunt at the Gym
Jaguar XF Sportbrake
“Sportbrake” is Jag’s macho take on “shooting brake,” a dusty Britishism for a two-door, athletically inclined wagon. And that’s fair. The car’s sportiness is best described as “just the right amount of obnoxious”: In dynamic mode, the feisty 380-horsepower V-6 gets feistier and the growly exhaust gets growlier.
The Spa of Wagons
Swedish Volvo, now owned by a Chinese company, has secretly become the A.P.C. of the automotive world: upscale but not overly expensive; discreetly stylish but never trendy. The least expensive wagon here also has the most calming interior—like a sauna crafted by Dieter Rams—and seats comfier than that T-shirt you’ve had since college.
The See-You-in-Gstaad Wagon
Technically, this is a shooting brake. Only two doors, but four usable seats. Oh, plus a 680-horsepower V-12 engine and the chance to say, “Yeah, but I bought the practical Ferrari” with a giant smirk.
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