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BY: Bix

Test Drive - 2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S

A Porsche with room for the kids—but you won't hear much complaining.

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Story: Michael Crenshaw

Model Tested: The fast one

Rating: 6 out of 6

Story: Michael Crenshaw

Initially, the Porsche Panamera caused, let’s say, a commotion in the car world, because of its unorthodox styling and because it’s a Porsche (actually, a lack thereof, the “purists” said) sedan. But since its introduction in 2009, the Panamera has surpassed all expectations. Sure, it still takes some getting used to, and you might think the rear is alien-esque, but the Panamera is a true Porsche, and you need to get in the driver’s seat—or, in the case of the Panamera Turbo S, those two beautiful rear buckets.

The first thing that amazes about this people-moving rocket is how, with the push of a few buttons, the character of this sedan changes from limo to land-speed record. It’s as tame as a kitten around town with every system in its normal mode; shifts are imperceptible, acceleration is telepathic and the ride is sublime. However, once the true nature of this 550 horsepower leviathan is put to use, you can expect your facial muscles to contort in ways not possible in other rides. Activating Sport Plus mode truly alters the character, and once your right foot does the talking, the Turbo S speaks volumes. If you still had any doubts about the performance, all you need to do is complete a few simple steps: Engage Sport Plus, shift over into manual mode, stomp your left foot on the brake and your right on the gas (which activates launch control), release the brake and hold on. You can repeatedly do 0-60 in 3.6 seconds.

It would be one thing for a sedan to go fast—look to any Mercedes or BMW for that—but the area this Porsche truly shines in is going fast and becoming docile when you’re carting around three other lucky passengers. Opting for the rear comfort seats (eight-way adjustment and ventilation) means that not only will passengers want to ride with you, but they’ll beg to stay. And with the optional 16-speaker, 1,000-watt Burmester audio system, there’s no better place to spend a long afternoon drive.

The multitude of options, buttons and switches make for personalization on a higher level. It may seem overwhelming at first, but once you master the layout of the Panamera, your hand seems to effortlessly glide to where it needs to be.

Porsche may never again be seen as a sports-car-only company, but if they want to build other amazing vehicles that help finance their operations, who’s to question them when they build unflappable vehicles like the Panamera Turbo S?

Specs:

Price: $186,845

Power: 550hp, 553 lb.-ft.

0-60: 3.6 secs.

Fuel Economy: 15 city, 23 hwy

Miles Driven: 650

March 10, 2013 at 04:20 PM
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BY: Bix

Test Drive - 2012 Jaguar XJL

The ultimate car for livin' large and in charge.

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Story: Will Sabel Courtney

Model Tested: XJ Supersport LWB

Rating: 6 out of 6

The Jaguar XJL comes in six different variations, but if you’re looking for the top-level, mack-daddy, do-not-apply-unless-super-fly-or-a-super-spy King Kong of Jaguars, check the box for the XJL Supersport. The price tag is steep—a hundred grand still leaves you one Honda Fit short of the base price—but all that cash buys you the hottest Jag since the 1961 E-Type roadster. And that one’s earned a place in the Museum of Modern Art.

Unlike the E-Type, though, the XJL is a big car. The “L” in the name means this is the extended-wheelbase model, which measures 17 feet, 3 inches long. But it feels even longer—so much so, you occasionally mistake the hood ornament for oncoming traffic. Aluminum construction means this cat is light for its size, but there just ain’t no way around all that length…or at least you wouldn’t think at first.

But jam down the gas pedal and you’ll be wondering how Jaguar bribed the universe so they could sneak the Supersport around the laws of physics. With more than 500 horsepower available at the flex of an ankle, this metal Jag rips through speed limits like its flesh-and-blood namesake tears through cattle. And when the road turns windy, all five and three quarter yards of vehicle does a damn fine impression of a true sports car.

While there’s plenty to enjoy from the driver’s seat, this big feline is just as nice a place to be if you happen to be stuck in the backseat. A good chunk of the extended wheelbase shows up as extra legroom for the two rear chairs, both of which can recline and massage. If you get bored watching the world fly past you, you can pop in a DVD and watch on dual screens—or crank up the 15-channel, 20-speaker, 1,200-watt Bowers & Wilkins stereo and hear Mark Knofler as though you had front row tickets. (We’re big Dire Straights fans, all right?) By the way, did we mention that all of this comes standard? Hey, when you stack it against the competition, this Jag starts to look like a bargain.

Specs:

Damage: $117,700

Power: 510hp, 461 lb.-ft.

0-60: 4.7 secs.

Gas Cash: 15 city, 21 hwy

Miles Driven: 40

February 27, 2013 at 06:43 PM
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BY: Bix

Driven — 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon

The best wagon you'll own since your Radio Flyer.

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Story: Michael Crenshaw

Model Tested: AMG Performance Package

Rating: 6 out of 6

Wagons get a bad rap. Sure, they’ve sometimes—in the past and now—looked as if a blind dog designed the outside; some were soft and some have that flair to them. Some, however, are straight murderous, like the 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon. (more…)

February 07, 2013 at 09:13 PM
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