Porsche, Audi Gear Up for Good Times

LOS ANGELES ( TheStreet) -- Sure, you need a clunker to participate in the federal Cash for Clunkers program, but that isn't stopping some executives from trading in their aging luxury cars for fast new rides debuting this fall.

It's been a while since you've contemplated buying a new car. After all, the mere whiff of new-car scent just a few months ago could have resulted in your job, if not your head, landing on the chopping block. But while the good times are hardly back, it's safe enough to pull that 2003 luxury car out of the garage for one final drive down to the dealership, where a plethora of hot new cars is debuting.

Porsche goes sedan: For anyone who's ever tried to stuff their two children, grandma or best friend into the backseat of their 911 Carrera, Porsche ( POAHY) debuts the all-new Panamera five-door sedan to the American market. With a limited production of 20,000 a year, Porsche is looking to satiate the demand for a sporty sedan that's traditionally been supplied by its BMW and Mercedes competitors and gives anyone with a family more than just the Cayenne SUV, currently Porsche's best-selling model, to choose from.

The Porsche Panamera is the German sports car maker's first five-door family-hauler.

From afar, the Porsche Panamera looks like something between a Maserati Quattroporte and a modernized Citroen DS, the French luxury sedan built from 1955 to 1975. The base Panamera S is priced at $89,800, with 400 horsepower and an interior that feels like a sports car. It has a low center of gravity and a cockpit-style console with center-mount LCD display. The roomy backseat sits higher than the front, offering passengers a more enjoyable ride. The seats fold down to fit golf clubs or 187-centimeter skis.

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