With a combined output of 1100kW, these three Euro heavyweights combine luxury with sledgehammer performance. Let’s get down to business..
Wanna get high? Forget illegal drugs. Forget winning the grand final. And forget the first – or last – time you got lucky. Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, and have I got the power trip for you. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it. Trust me, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Think super sedans. Fast Four doors. Ridiculously quick and with all the fancy trappings to make leaders of the industry and power brokers salivate with anticipation. We’ve got three fearsomely potent four-doors that could shake the dead from their slumber. They’re among the most powerful, most opulent four-seaters in Australia, and you won’t have to tell the kids in the back to be quiet – they’ll be mute with amazement as the world warps by.
Normally, you’ve got to be a CEO or a multi-millionaire to take this trip. It helps if you’re a sports star, or you invented Facebook or Google, and have an insatiable lust for power in every facet of your life. Today, however, we’re going to drive a mile in their cars. Quite a few miles.
In the Wheels world, these people don’t bother with a chauffeur. Why work so hard and then pay someone else to have all the fun? But what to drive? A luxury car is not enough, though they most likely have one or two. A High-performance sports car, too, isn’t enough, though they may even have a couple of those. These three cars – the Audi RS6, the Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S and the Porsche Panamera Turbo – deliver a heady brew of both opulence and vigour.
These three executive sledgehammers are the automotive embodiment of power in all its forms. Their muscular flanks and aggressive stances exude visual power, their engines shake with physical power, and their exclusivity and stratospheric price tags advertise the considerable power of their owners. These three are the last word in four-door sports luxury.
The trigger for this three-way clash is the Porsche Panamera. This seriously quick sedan-cum-hatch is the fourth new car-line from Zuffenhausen in little more than a decade. The company that once rose and fell with the fortunes of the 911 now harvests just 20 percent of its sales from that rear-engined staple.
Making up the other two-thirds of our three-way drive to four-door heaven are the Audi RS6 and Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S. Together this flotilla costs $1.1 million, has 1117kW and 1910Nm, and can blast to 100km/h in five seconds or less. It’s the kind of comparo that makes Wheels’ insurance man quake at the knees.
The Porsche Panamera is offered in three guises (S, 4S and Turbo), all with a 4.8-litre V8 up front. There are V6 and hybrid versions on the way, but even so the Panamera is not expected to be a volume seller for the brand. It has been positioned to complement the polarising yet lucrative Cayenne SUV, which is priced from $100K to $270K. The Panamera’s current V8 only range starts at $265K and stretches to $365K for the Turbo model we’re testing. That’s the starting point; in typical Porsche fashion the options amount to an HSV Clubsport, and take the driveaway price north of $420,000.
For that, the front-engine Panamera puts 368kW of twin-turbocharged V8 on tap, metered out to all four wheels through a cutting-edge PK seven-speed double-clutch transmission. The Panamera Turbo will pamper you and three passengers in luxury unrivalled by any other Porsche, and protect you with the best safety and technology the factory has yet devised.
The Audi RS6 sedan is unique in this company because it’s based on a more mundane volume model, the A6. But the RS makeover is all-encompassing. From its bespoke, muscular body panels to its rampant 426kW twin-turbocharged V10 engine, the RS6 is the most potent model Audi makes - more powerful than even the R8 V10 sports coupe that is considered the brand's flagship. In this company, however, the three-box Audi fades into the background against two such visually arresting entities, despite its blistered wheel arches and road-hugging bodykit.
No country does exotica like Italy. The tempestuous Mediterranean nation that gave the world both Monica Bellucci and Alessandro Volta knows intimately about beauty and power. And Maserati is the only one of Italy's supercar triumvirate to package power and passion in a four-door. Yes, the Quattroporte Sport GT S has by far the most sultry, evocative lines of our three combatants.
Styling is an important facet of our trio's allure. But is it better to look gorgeous or expensive? Lust or envy? Either way the Maserati takes best-in-show. Its curvaceous lines tempt your eyes with every swell and sweep, and that gaping maw practically tattoos the marque's trident on appreciative retinas. The Maserati's interior shouts opulence, too, with its creamy leather and warm wood.
Unlike the Maserati, the Panamera's lines aren't pretty. The Panamera is imposing; its styling is more about substance and strength than beauty. A handful of 911 cues link it to the Porsche family, though they don't sit comfortably on a car almost as long as the 5.1m Maserati, but wider and lower. It looks heavier too, though at 1970kg it is the lightest of our trio- just.
The Porsche may be imposing, but if you want the world to watch as you drive past, buy the Maserati. The Italians know all about the theatre of a performance car. The Quattroporte's voluptuous styling is one example, its delicious soundtrack another. The Maserati's 4.7-litre V8 produces the Pavarotti of engine notes, and has a bi-modal exhaust specifically to unleash what is one of the automotive world's greatest and most captivating symphonies. Even revving in neutral, it is Dolby-demonic and full of blood-pumping virility. Under load, it is embellished with a seriously rumbling undertone. In a tunnel it reverberates with menace and makes your heart skip a beat.
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