Everyone knows there are luxury cars, which cosset you in hand-stitched hides, and insulate you from noise so well you could be in your living room. Cars that move in a stately fashion, designed to spoil their owners. Cars that never dare to ruffle their owners.
Everyone also knows that there exist performance cars, which trade the cache of comfort for superior grip, speed, and communication with the road.
Access difficult? Cabin not padded enough? Room a little tight? Ride a little stiff? Perhaps there is no built in massage or fold down tray in the back.
That is not the design brief for these warriors on wheels.
What has happened in recent years is that the two categories have blurred a bit.
Granted, nobody will confuse your Lotus Elise with a Maybach. On the other hand, there are a few notable efforts that offer generous servings of both luxury and alacrity.
One of the best is the Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed. In about the time it takes to say it, you can be transported to 60 mph in grand style. Interior fittings? About as nice as they come? Engine? A not so stately 600 horsepower. No, that is not a misprint left over from a Corvette ZR1 post.
You can pull up in your Bentley looking like you own the bank, and still make a fast getaway if you are just visiting. Or a slow one, as nobody will take you for a lowlife in this stunner.
Mercedes models prepared by AMG have been known for pumping up the volume on the Teutonic titans of the tarmac. But recently they have executed some insanely fast fun disguised as a luxury sedan. The CL65 AMG comes to mind, with a jaw dropping 738 foot-pounds of torque and 604 hp from a 6 liter V-12. For your $ 207,000, you get more speed than the similarly priced Bentley, and all the wood and leather you could wish for. Decisions, decisions.
The Audi RS6 combines what many consider faultless interior design and amenities with a blistering 444 hp engine. More impressive is the constant 413 pounds of torque the ten cylinder plant makes between 1950 and 5600 RPM. Dynamic Ride Control allows you to feel pampered while blasting down the autobahn at sub-light speeds. The upcoming A7 fastback looks to be a head turner and barnburner as well.
BMW, with the much loved M series, may have started this whole concept. The M3 and M5 are the originals when it comes to super sedans. Four passengers will be pulled by a ten cylinder engine cranking over 600 hp in the next version of the M5, just as an example. Larger, heavier and more powerful than the first models released in 1984, they are still a force to be reckoned with when silk shirts feel the need for speed.
Jaguar for its part has made XJR and S-type R owners happy driving the stretched luxury of the big cat knowing the purr disguises a 400 hp growl.
Aston Martin, on the other hand, has always defined the performance touring sedan and coupe, with the upcoming Rapide packaging 12 cylinders and 440 hp in a package fit for royalty. Based on the DB9, it looks to be another bespoke rocket from the UK.
The sound you hear is your pulse quickening as Porsche, Maserati, and Lamborghini all offer sexy solutions to the high performance sedan challenge.
Porsche has the Panamera, Lamborghini is debuting the Estoque, and Maserati has offered Italian style and flair in the Quattroporte for a while now.
The Panamera Turbo version cracks the four second barrier to 60. For $ 132,600 you get more cabin width than a Mercedes, with 18 way front and 8 way adjustable rear seats.