Luxury barges aren’t always the most family friendly, but tumbling prices for the Porsche Panamera and Audi A8 make them a possibility

I might be alone here, but I do like the look and whole bearing of the Porsche Panamera. At its simplest, this is a great big 911 with extra doors.

Those who want a bigger 911 will more than likely drive home in Porsche’s best-selling Cayenne. And who can blame them? It shows up the Panamera as not being nearly family friendly enough by having just two rear seats.

But you can now buy a 2010 Panamera for just over £30,000. That seems like rather good value for money compared with a 911 from the same year; that’s going to be just under £40,000. So by my backward Bangernomics reasoning, you will get a lot more Porsche for your money. However, if you want to transport more than four occupants, you really do have to shop around for an alternative, high-performance luxo-barge.

The Audi A8 is always my default choice for barging, especially as there are S8, quattro and diesel options. However, rather than take that route, there’s one model I haven’t mentioned much, because they have taken a while to become affordable: the A7.

Audi may call it a Sportback, but we know it is an executive hatch in the mould of a Rover SD1. It isn’t as interesting as the mangy old Rover, but it is bigger, more practical and probably, at £12,995, cheaper than the appreciating classic. It would have a 3.0 TDI engine and you will have every possible extra and an eye-popping colour display if you find an SE. Most seem to be a more solid £15,000, and an S line is going to be £18,000-plus.

I looked at a Lexus with a reclining and massaging rear relaxation package, but that meant there were only two rear seats, and the price was even more off-putting. A 2009 LS 600h is the sort of vehicle that gives hybrids a good name. The thing is that you know it’s going to be reliable. Everything is pretty much standard, with all the usual luxury ingredients, and don’t be fobbed off by A 2010 Porsche Panamera can be had for just over £30k the thought of just four seats. Push up the tech-laden armrest and sit on the hump, or stick a child seat there.

The Honda Legend is now long gone from new car showrooms but is still around in large enough numbers second-hand to be tempting. A 2009 3.5i VTEC at £6495 doesn’t seem half bad and is slightly more interesting to look at than the original giant Accords. The Legend is cheaper and rarer than a Lexus LS and there’s lots of rear room.

I’ve only scratched the luxo-barge surface here and this is very much my favourite area of the car market. I’ll be returning soon and won’t care much about child seat friendliness.

Join the debate


6 June 2016

... A 2009 Honda Legend 3.5i VTEC at £6495 doesn’t seem half bad...

That sounds pretty good actually (depending on mileage), but it's the damn road tax and service/parts costs that are a bit off-putting.

Always liked the look of the last generation Legend.

6 June 2016
There was a time when flagship saloons made sense, as they offered features, technology, performance and even class which was well above the lower echelons. Even their size wasn't unreasonable, hovering below 5 metres long and 1.85m wide, with a mass of about 1.7tonnes. Thsi is no longer the case in any of these parameters, with the possible exception of the length in SWB, but technology, features, performance and the rest are all available even two steps down the size ladder. This, plus being over two tonnes and at least 1.9 metres wide make them impractical, inefficient and, worst of all, ineffective (speed, roadholding, usability), at least in Europe.

6 June 2016
Audi A8s with smaller engines weigh less than two tonnes. In fact their weight is not much different to that of A6s due to their Aluminium body shell.

6 June 2016
"Everything is pretty much standard, with all the usual luxury ingredients, and don’t be fobbed off by A 2010 Porsche Panamera can be had for just over £30k the thought of just four seats."

7 June 2016
Bullfinch wrote:

"Everything is pretty much standard, with all the usual luxury ingredients, and don’t be fobbed off by A 2010 Porsche Panamera can be had for just over £30k the thought of just four seats."

It's an editing error. Delete A to £30k and read as don't be fobbed off by the thought of just four seats.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left


6 June 2016
My 2010 E63 AMG was 30k.... Far better car than an A8, Lexus or Legend....

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK