The Greatest Luxury Performance Sedans We Never Got
12 luxury performance sedans, car manufacturers deprived us of that could have been great hitsby Dim Angelov, on LISTEN 15:20
Performance luxury sedans are the perfect middle ground for those seeking comfort, practicality and performance in a single package. And while we have gotten plenty of great examples like the BMW M5, Mercedes AMG GT63, Porsche Panamera, and others, there are those that came to us as concepts, but never delivered in the real world. Here are the most prominent culprits.
The Chrysler Chronos was shown at the 1998 Chicago Auto Show and was supposed to be the flagship car for Chrysler that would compete with Lincoln and Cadillac. The car was styled by Osamu Shikado who took inspiration from the 1952 Chrysler De Elegance, 1953 Chrysler Special, and 1955 Chrysler Falcon concept cars.
The car was substantial in terms of proportions. It was 205 inches (5,207 mm) long and 76 inches (1,930.4 mm) wide. It had a very long wheelbase, with almost no front over-hang and the tires were massive for the time – 20 inches at the front and 21 at the rear. The interior featured vast amounts of leather, walnut inserts, and a humidity box in the center console, for storing cigars.
The Chronos was motivated by a 6.0-liter SOHC V-10 engine, built from three, 4.7-liter Jeep V-8 engines. It made 350 horsepower and was mated to a four-speed automatic, which sent power to the rear axle. At 4,209 pounds (1,909 kg), the car can be considered relatively light, for this type of vehicle.
Unfortunately, the Chronos never entered production and Mercedes was responsible. Because of the Daimler-Chrysler merger, it was decided that Mercedes should make luxury cars. So much for the “merger of equals”. Some design elements did make it to the Chrysler 300C, which came out in 2004.
|Engine||6.0-liter SOHC V-10|
|Weight||4,209 pounds (1,909 kg)|
|Length||205 inches (5,207 mm)|
|Width||76 inches (1,930.4 mm)|
It’s safe to say, Packard was one of the first luxury brands to grace us with its existence. Of course, this happened way before my time, in 1899. The brand would buy Studebaker, in 1953 and form Studebaker-Packard Corporation, but later, the company was defunct, in 1966.
As for the 1999 Packard Twelve Concept, it was engineer and entrepreneur, Roy Gullickson who made it happen. He had a vision of a resurrected Packard Twelve – a series of V-12-powered luxury cars, made by Packard in the past – and after successfully trademarking the Packard Twelve name, he got to work. Development started in 1994 and, in October 1998, the car was introduced at the 25th anniversary celebration of Arizona Packards, in Tuscon.
The result was an ultra-luxurious, performance sedan, with a 119-inch (3,002.6 mm) wheelbase that looked like the unholy child of a Jaguar and a Bentley. The resurrected Twelve was powered by a 525 cubic-inch (8.6-liter), OHV V-12 with 573 horsepower, mated to a GM 4l8OE gearbox. The car also featured full-time all-wheel drive with a 35/65 torque split and a BorgWarner transfer case.
The car weighed 3,750 pounds (1,701 kg) and was capable to reach from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.8 seconds while completing the quarter-mile at 12.5 seconds. Only one prototype exists, which was reportedly sold in 2014, for $143,000.
|Engine||8.6-liter OHV V-12|
|Weight||3,750 pounds (1,701 kg)|
|0 to 60 mph||4.8 seconds|
|Quarter mile||12.5 seconds|
The Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge was unveiled at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show and showed us what a GT-R-powered four-door performance sedan could look like. The car got its provocative name from one of the corners at the SPA Francorchamps circuit and had a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6 that makes 560 horsepower and 443 pound-feet (600 Nm). The hot Q50 also has all-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic.
The car retains a relatively discrete look, only standing out with a carbon-fiber body kit that consists of a lip spoiler, side skirts, and a new rear diffuser. Seeing it personally at the Geneva Motor Show, I fail to understand why Infiniti hadn’t made it. Unfortunately, the closest thing we have gotten to the Eau Rouge is the Q50 Red Sport, which has proven to be a capable platform, even if not as capable.
|Type||3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6|
|Top Speed||180 mph|
|0 to 60 mph||< 4 seconds|
Read our full review on the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge
Even James May said that the Cadillac Sixteen is “what a Cadillac should be” – pure excess and luxury. The Sixteen was so massive that it would make even the Packard Twelve and Chrysler Chronos from earlier look like city cars. It had a 140-inch (3,556mm) wheelbase while measuring 223.3 inches (5,667 mm) in length and 79.9 inches (2,029 mm) in width.
The 13.6-liter V-16 engine was equally massive, developing 1,000 horsepower and 1,000 pound-feet (1,356 Nm) without forced induction. It featured an all-aluminum construction and active cylinder deactivation, for when the full power is not needed. The gearbox was a smooth, four-speed automatic. The 5,005-pound (2,270 kg) luxury vehicle is not the first V-16 Cadillac prototype - that title goes to the XP-840 Eldorado Fastback - but it’s still one of the greatest American concepts, we never got.
|Weight||5,000 lbs (2,270 kg)|
|Wheelbase||140 inches (3,556mm)|
|Length||223.3 inches (5,667 mm)|
|Width||79.9 inches (2,029 mm)|
Read our full review on the Cadillac Sixteen
Ferrari is not the only supercar manufacturer that considered a four-door super-sedan. At the 2008 Paris Auto Show, Lamborghini unveiled the Estoque – named after a two-handed sword. It was the first four-door Lamborghini since the LM002 “Rambo Lambo” and shared the Gallardo’s 5.2-liter V-10 unit, with 560 horsepower and 398 pound-feet (540 Nm). Power went to all four wheels through a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic.
A couple of engine options were considered for the production version, including a V-12, V-8, and even a turbo-diesel. While Lamborghini chairman, Stephan Winkelmann, at the time said that Lamborghini is interested in the world of four-door vehicles – something they proved with the Urus – the Estoque will remain as a concept. A missed opportunity, considering super-sedans and four-door coupes were on the rise, at the time.
|Transmission||seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic|
Read our full review on the Lamborghini Estoque
Another stunning concept we never got is the Bertone Jaguar B99, unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show. The car was built to celebrate almost 100 years – 99 at the time – of Bertone, hence the name B99. The car measured 177.2 inches in length and 76.8 inches in width, with a 110.2-inch (2,800mm) wheelbase.
Bertone’s B99 scored a retro-futuristic design, combining the classic three-box shape of older Jaguars – XJ in particular – with the big, gaping grille and thin, LED headlights of newer models. The four-door luxury concept had an output of 570 horsepower, thanks to a hybrid powertrain, focused around a 1.4-liter FCA MultiAir, turbocharged inline-four. The engine, alone, made 170 horsepower and would serve as a range-extender.
|Engine||Hybrid 1.4-liter FCA MultiAir, turbocharged inline-four|
|Gasoline power||170 HP|
Read our full review on the Jaguar Bertone B99
After the Daimler-Chrysler merger thwarted the birth of the Chronos from earlier, Chrysler, once again, had a go at a flagship, luxury sedan, with plenty of go-power. The 2006 Imperial was an attempt at resurrecting an old Chrysler name, dating back to the 1920s. Like the Chronos, the Imperial was based on a modified LX platform.
It featured retro design cues, like a big chrome grille, dual-headlight design, and suicide doors. The interior featured very few buttons, as Chrysler wanted it to be a driver’s luxury car. Power came from a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 with 340 horsepower and 390 pound-feet (529 Nm), mated to a five-speed automatic.
The 2006 Imperial was cancelled because of the increase in fuel prices and because it wouldn’t have been economically sound. In addition, the focus was put on the Dodge Challenger, which arrived two years later.
|Engine||5.7-liter HEMI V-8|
Read our full review on the Chrysler Imperial
If some of the previous entries did not seem to put enough emphasis on performance, this one does the opposite. It’s the closest we’ve ever gotten to a four-door Mustang, at least for now (the Mach E does not count). The concept was shown at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, and was inspired by classic muscle cars from the 1960s, in particular by the Ford Galaxie (not the boring minivan from Europe, but the 1960s muscle-car).
The Interceptor was to be fast and engaging, but also eco-friendly, which is why the 5.0-liter Cammer V-8 ran on ethanol. The engine itself was an upgraded version of the 4.6-liter unit found in the Mustang. Depending on the settings and aspiration, it was aid to produce between 400 and 600 horsepower. The Interceptor was rear-wheel-drive only and had a six-speed manual. Although it never made it to production, some design cues transitioned to models like the Taurus, Edge, and Fusion.
|Engine||5.0-liter Cammer V-8|
Read our full review on the Ford Interceptor
Porsche has been romancing the idea of a four-door super-sedan for a while and before the Panamera, they almost made another one. The development of the 989 was motivated by the success of the Porsche 928, which was more of a grand tourer, compared to the more performance-oriented Porsche 911. Development started in 1988, under the supervision of Dr. Ulrich Bez.
The car was styled to look like a four-door 911, but was never meant to have a flat-six engine. Instead, it had a 4.2-liter, 80-degree V-8 that made 350 horsepower and was mounted at the front. A Mercedes 500E test mule was used to simulate the weight of the engine. The Porsche 989 was meant to compete with the BMW M5 (E34) and Mercedes 500E (W124), but due to the declining sales of the 928, Porsche eventually gave up the project.
|Engine||4.2-liter, 80-degree V-8|
|Top Speed||178 mph|
Read our full review on the Porsche 989
The four-door Ferrari was built for Pininfarina’s 50th Anniversary. Leonardo Fioravanti, of Pininfarina, was responsible for the design of the 1980 concept. The Pinin was built on the platform of a Ferrari 400GT donor car and used a 4.9-liter, flat-12 engine. Given the time of production, it was believed this was the 340-horsepower version, used in the Ferrari 512BB and 512BBi.
While Ferrari had considered a four-door luxury sedan, Pininfarina’s dream of a Jaguar XJ and Mercedes 450SEL competitor with the prancing horse badge, would never be realized. As with the Packard from earlier, only one prototype exists. Over the years, the Ferrari Pinin changed hands several times, each time for at a greater price. It is currently owned by Ferrari collector Prof. Dr. Anthony Nobles, in California.
Even hypercar manufacturers like Bugatti have considered a four-door luxury, performance sedan. A four-door hyper-sedan certainly sounds intriguing and the 2009 Galibier shows us exactly how a four-door, front-engine Veyron would look like. Practicality was also going to be quite good, as the concept scored a five-door fastback body style.
The 8.0-liter W-16 unit was not at the front and instead of four turbochargers, it had two superchargers. Power, however, was said to be over 1,000 horsepower and the 16C Galibier could achieve speeds of over 235 mph (378 km/h). Like in the Veyron (and Chiron), power was still sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic.
|Top Speed||235 mph|
Read our full review on the Bugatti 16C Galibier
Ferrari 456 GT Venice Sedan
Officially, Ferrari 456 came only in a 2+2 coupe form. However, the sultan of Brunei was known for commissioning design and coachbuilding studios to make what manufacturers usually won’t. In this case, the sultan commissioned Pininfarina to create a sedan version of the V-12 grand tourer. Four or five cars are known to exist.
Other custom versions, based on the 456 include a five-door station wagon, also built by Pininfarina, called the GT Venice – seven made, a 456 GT Pininfarina Spyder – two made, 456 GT Cabriolet, made by R. Straman Company of Costa Mesa, California – three made, and a Targa conversion.
Regardless of the body type, the 456 GT was always powered by a 5.5-liter, normally-aspirated V-12 with 442 horsepower and 406 pound-feet (550 Nm). In the stock, coupe form, the 456 could hit 60 mph (97 km/h) in under 5.0 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 186 mph (300 km/h).
|Engine||5.5-liter, normally-aspirated V-12|
|0 to 60 mph||5.0 seconds|
|Top Speed||186 mph|