Though it seems in this recession that everyone has felt the economic downturn, for those lucky few who can still afford a nice automotive ‘toy’ for the holidays, several options combine luxury and performance in a gorgeous package their owners will enjoy every time they take them out of the garage.

A great example of a luxury car that combines looks and performance is the Aston-Martin DBS. It’s no coincidence that James Bond drives one of these.

The DBS Volante convertible recently debuted to join its hardtop sibling, and it would be hard to find a better performing or better looking tanning machine. There’s no other word to describe the DBS than ‘gorgeous.’ It has a classic long hood and short deck profile with beefy haunches. The hardtop coupe has fabulous lines and the convertible even looks good with the soft top up.

Performance is the DBS’s calling card, and there’s plenty of it with a 5.9 liter V-12 engine that pumps out 510 horsepower to the rear wheels via either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. This translates to a 0 to 60 time of 4.3 seconds. Enjoyment is increased by the snarling voice of a sport-tuned exhaust. Gas mileage is 12 mpg city, 18 mpg highway with the automatic.

Even with the automatic, there’s plenty of power for any situation, and the handling is superb. Just think about carving through a curve and the DBS helps you do it with aplomb. Braking is phenomenal. The brakes feel like they could stop time. It really seems like you put the DBS on, rather than get into it, as its controls become an extension of your limbs and senses. Bottom line, it’s a blast to drive.

According to Moore Aston-Martin salesman Tony Longhibler, “The DBS is a phenomenal machine. It’s got looks, performance and luxury; everything you could want in a sports car.”

To put a DBS in your garage you either have to be a British super spy with access to Q branch, or have the means to pony up $286,000 for a car.

Another great looking car with awesome performance is the new Porsche Panamera. Touted as Porsche’s first four-door sedan, the Panamera has classic Porsche styling with its low hood, raised and rounded front fenders and sloping back, though the rear is a hatch that covers a storage area instead of the engine.

Of course as a Porsche, the highlight of the Panamera is driving it. This is simply a fabulous driving car. Four hundred horsepower oozes from its 4.8 liter direct fuel injection front mounted V-8 engine to either the rear wheels, or in the 4S and turbo models, to all the wheels. Power is managed and distributed through a 7-speed PDK automatic transmission that can be shifted manually without a clutch. All this power translates to really quick acceleration, with a 0 to 60 time of only 4.8 seconds. Pretty good for a car weighing over 4,000 pounds. The 500-horsepower turbo takes only 3.8 seconds 0 to 60. Gas mileage for the non-turbo is 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway. My only complaint is that it is not offered in the U.S. with a real manual transmission, which would make this car pretty much perfect as a performance sedan. The engine, brakes and suspension are all up to sports car standards, which translates to power and handling better than all but the most serious sports cars. An adjustable suspension and engine control system allows you to choose between a comfortable ride and more economical shifts to an extremely tight suspension with shift points well up the rev band. In ‘super sport’ mode, the Panamera is as fun to drive as any sports car, with sharp steering input, flat as a pancake cornering and gobs of power in each gear.

In addition to being a fabulous performance sedan, the Panamera is also quite a nice luxury sedan, with rich leather, gorgeous wood and beautiful trim throughout the cabin. Buttons surround the shift console, but they are all well labeled and fairly easy to use. Dual automatic climate control with separate rear seat vents ensures comfort for all passengers, and navigation and all the expected modern conveniences leave nothing to be desired in the luxury department. You can even adjust the sound of the exhaust!

Leo Leono of Parktown Porsche says, “The Panamera is a new generation of automobile. It has the DNA of the high performance 911, but wait a minute…it seats four adults and their luggage comfortably.”

Of course the best never comes cheap, but at $94,000 to start for the all-wheel-drive version, the Panamera offers a lot of performance, luxury and practicality for the price. S

Robert W. Paster is also an attorney in private practice, concentrating in estate planning and probate. See">