Gone are the days when blending pace with grace meant four doors and a boot. In 2017 there's still a healthy selection of limousines, but the propensity for top end marques to cross-pollenate multiple species has created a new breed of four-seat luxury.
The most obvious is SUVs, but they're no longer solely focused on functionality or going off-road. The new super luxury crossovers deliver the sort of performance once reserved for sports cars teamed with elite luxury.
Here's a trio of groundbreaking all-wheel drives that blend hints of private jet and five-star resort for the ultimate pampering road trip.
Winding the 6.3-litre V12 out beyond 8000rpm is an experience not only in accelerative force but also aural exhilaration. Few engines combine such a free-revving nature with the intoxicating high-tech bellow of 12 cylinders firing furiously in harmony.
The raw numbers of the GTC4Lusso – a heavy rework of the FF – tell a potent story: 507kW shifts the lengthy grand tourer to 100km/h in just 3.4 seconds. And the fun doesn't stop until 335km/h.
Fast, then.Fluid, too. When driving all four wheels the big two-door grand tourer is supremely surefooted, able to fire out of a hairpin as competently as it devours a flowing bend.
Room to move
Ferrari's first application of four-wheel steering helps, tucking the tail in through slow bends and adding surety through faster sections. Few cars cover ground as quickly and comfortably as the GTC4Lusso.
Mouthful of a name aside, this is Ferrari's most luxurious model. In the absence of an SUV – Ferrari says it will never build one – the two-door four-seater is also the marque's most spacious.
Even adults will appreciate the leg room in the rear, although it's up front where the prancing horse style shines, right down to the optional second instrument cluster with a personal speedo, G-force meter and tacho for the passenger.
Porsche Panamera Turbo
A decade ago the Panamera Turbo's ballistic acceleration – 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds – would have earned it supercar status.These days it's merely very brisk in an executive express segment that includes all manner of German exotica.
It's not just the outright acceleration that defines the fastest version of the four-door Panamera. The 404kW twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 delivers monstrous thrust across its rev range, ensuring point-and-shoot overtaking at any speed.
Through corners, too, the Turbo is an intercontinental masterstroke, briskly covering anything from a pockmarked backroad to a smooth autobahn.
Broad and brisk
New generation air suspension at each corner provides supple bump absorption in its softest setting before lowering the two-tonne body and stiffening things for more alert responses.
That the four-door that's longer than a Commodore can also seat four in near-limousine comfort is testament to the Panamera's talents. This is a big car with a broad cabin and useful boot under the rear hatch.
Those in the back have the same body hugging support as those up front as well as individual ventilation controls and the option of a pumping Burmester sound system.
Bentley Bentayga Diesel
The chances of anyone shelling out $335,000 on Bentley's first SUV then heading for the scrub are slim. Let's assume it'll never happen.
But, hey, at least they know they can. Bentley has injected plenty of Range Rover-fighting rough road ability into a car that oozes opulence, from its distinctive wood-laced dash peppered with circular metal air vents and push-pull controllers to the plush leather pews that deliver a stern full stop in what is a cosseting cabin.
Splash out on the picnic hamper – a steal at $55,055 – and you can redefine fast food for roadside stops. Indeed, the Bentayga is pure Bentley – inside and out. It's also as brash and expensive as an SUV can get, at least until Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce unleash their takes on a crossover.
Pack a picnic
Those chasing the ultimate in performance will gravitate to the range-topping W12 engine, with its pair of turbos and dozen cylinders.
However, if you want to stretch more from the fuel tank the newly-arrived diesel is a superb antidote. The 4.0-litre V8 borrowed from the Audi SQ7 is among the most advanced of any diesel. Its twin regular turbochargers are supplemented by an electric turbo that spins up instantly to reduce lag, something that helps shift the hefty 2.5-tonne SUV frame with ease.
Enormous brakes behind wheels as large as 22 inches deliver potent stopping power.
Which fast four-seater are you planning on splashing out on?