BMW Gran Coupe
The 4-door coupe, as first realized by Mercedes-Benz with the CLS 500 in 2004, is the newest addition to BMW’s sizable lineup of vehicles. Put a 6-series coupe and a 5-series sedan into a blender and the result is the Gran Coupe, mixing and extending the sloping roofline, look, and feel of the 6 with the wheelbase of the 5. Dubbed a 4+1 for its rear row third seat–think glorified middle armrest that’s best-suited to a short shopping jaunt–the car will be available in three variants: base model 640i, midrange 650i, and the bells and whistles 650i xDrive, signifying Bimmer’s intelligent All-Wheel Drive system.
The 650i gets an updated version of the current 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V8 taking HP to 445 and torque to 480 lb-ft, all delivered through an 8-speed automatic with flappy paddles as standard. As expected from a Bimmer, experience oodles of soft but firm leather, crisp and clear gauges, the infamous iDrive, and enough driving and assist system acronyms to keep you firmly on-road and give a dyslexic a migraine.
Aston Martin Rapide
Bond finally meets the right (Bond) girl and has a mini-Bond. His ride? The four-door, four-seat Aston Martin Rapide, of course. Introduced in 2010, 6 liters of V12 oomph (producing 470 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque) propel this low slung, sleek-as-a-Savile-Row-suit Grand Tourer to 60 mph in five seconds, enroute to a top speed of 188 mph, all accompanied by a glorious twinexhaust symphony. A small Vanquishesque facelift brings it more in line with the rest of the family for 2013.
Despite its divisive ‘love it or hate it’ rounded rear haunches, the Panamera has proven a solid hit in Porsche’s lineup, particularly in SoCal. Boasting seven different models –from the base V6 Panamera, through the surprisingly fuel-efficient hybrid and more robustly powered V8-engined S, to the mouthwatering 550 hp twin-turbo V8 of the range-topping Turbo S, this luxury 4-door hatchback delivers the performance of a sports car with the utility of a sedan. Four, full-sized adults comfortably accommodated, plus luggage, at 911 speeds? Yes, please.
Endearingly like a small child stating its age, the 6-3/4 liter V8 of the Bentley Mulsanne is definitely adult in its objectives: to achieve maximum torque, efficiency, and refinement. 752 lb-ft, a fitting adjunct to the 550 hp, make short shrift of the first; lightweight componentry, aiding fuel consumption, plus lower CO2 emissions, handle goal #2 (relatively speaking!), while handcrafted interiors replete with sumptuous materials making discreet nods to its storied design and racing heritage mix with 21st-century technology, all wrapped in a boldly styled, elegantly executed package.