by Chris Chase
At the beginning of the 2010s, luxury carmakers were moving away from station wagons as the market for upscale utility vehicles grew. However, not wanting to alienate buyers who appreciate a wagon’s practicality and car-like driving feel, German brands, in particular, began introducing mid-size hatchback models to replace them.
In this used-vehicle article, we’ll take a look at three of these stylish models: the Audi A7, the Porsche Panamera, and the BMW 5 Series and 6 Series Gran Turismo. These three handsome hatchbacks are highly desirable, but like any luxury car, careful shopping is the key to trouble-free ownership.
So read on, and we’ll tell you what to watch for in a used A7, Panamera, or BMW 5 or 6 Series.
Audi A7, 2012-2018
The Audi A7 shares its platform and mechanicals with the A6 sedan. This long, sleek vehicle came with gas and diesel V6 engines in its base form, and V8s in S7 and RS7 variants that boasted 420 and 560 hp, respectively. All models came standard with Audi’s Quattro AWD.
In this post, owners discuss a headlight warning malfunction that pops up when making a turn. (https://www.audiworld.com/forums/a7-192/led-headlights-light-malfunction-2823784/ ) Scroll down the thread to see the solution one Audi dealer came up with.
Here, owners commiserate about rough shifting from the A7’s eight-speed transmission. https://www.audiworld.com/forums/a7-192/2016-audi-a7-transmission-hesitation-jerking-2954952/ ) Another discussion centers on the same problem. (https://www.audiworld.com/forums/a7-192/second-first-downshift-jerk-2814510/ )
Here’s a chat about road noise in the A7. (https://www.audiworld.com/forums/a7-192/a7-excessive-road-noise-buyer-beware-2810553/ ) All versions of this car come with large wheels and tires, which, combined with the A7/S7/RS7’s taut suspension, tend to transmit a significant amount of noise into the car.
In this post, one A7 owner lays out the long list of issues they had with their car in the first five months of ownership. (https://www.audiforums.com/forum/audi-a7-79/a7-problems-174852/ ) Keep in mind that experiences like that are rare. In this discussion, various owners discuss A7 reliability problems. (https://www.audiworld.com/forums/a7-192/do-not-let-your-warranty-expire-before-reading-2877073/ )
Porsche Panamera, 2010-2016
Porsche introduced the Panamera in 2010 to attract luxury car shoppers looking for a four-door sedan. Engine options include gas and diesel V6s at the entry-level end, and hybrid, V8, and turbo powertrains that approach 600 hp in pricier versions.
Here, Panamera owners discuss a transmission fault that locks it in neutral. (https://rennlist.com/forums/panamera/1094795-displ-sensor-shift-rod-gears-fault-impulse-signals-1-3-p1733-2.html ) One owner fixed the issue in their car by replacing a sensor; the first thing to look at in a situation like this is the battery, as Panamera owners say the car’s electronic controls are sensitive to low voltage from a weak battery.
Porsche recalled 2010 through 2012 Panamera models to replace engine camshaft screws that could break off and cause the engine to stall. (https://wwwapps.tc.gc.ca/Saf-Sec-Sur/7/VRDB-BDRV/search-recherche/detail.aspx?lang=eng&mk=2003&md=PANAMERA&fy=0&ty=9999&ft=&ls=0&sy=0&rn=2017296&cf=SearchResult&pg=0 ) In some cases, these broken screws fell deep into the engine and caused serious damage; Porsche replaced some of those engines under warranty. (https://rennlist.com/forums/panamera/883590-panamera-engine-failure.html )
This thread contains details of a recall to fix a fire risk caused by water leaking into the air conditioning fan. (https://rennlist.com/forums/panamera/1146270-huge-2010-2016-panamera-recall.html )
Here’s a Panamera owner’s account of the reliability troubles they had with a car they bought through Porsche’s certified pre-owned program. (https://rennlist.com/forums/panamera/1039207-panamera-reliability-or-lack-thereof.html )
In this thread, owners debate the merits of the Panamera’s optional air suspension. (https://rennlist.com/forums/panamera/1066483-is-adaptive-air-suspension-a-must-have.html ) These systems can improve a car’s ride and handling, but they are also more complicated and prone to failure over time. One owner put together a how-to for replacing failed air suspension springs, which they insist is less complicated than it looks and sounds. (https://rennlist.com/forums/panamera/1098965-diy-panamera-air-suspension-shock-replacement-front.html )
Porsche offered the Panamera with a high-performance carbon-ceramic brake system. It was expensive to add to the car when it was new, and its super grippy rotors are also pricey to replace. You won’t find many used models fitted with these brakes, but if you do find one, buy it with this warning in mind.
BMW 5 Series and 6 Series Gran Turismo, 2010-2019
The high-tech 6 Series will flash a “drivetrain malfunction” warning if it senses mechanical trouble, which is often accompanied by reduced power and a poor-running engine. In many cases, the car will restart and drive fine after being shut off for a short time, but this warning should be taken seriously. In this driver’s case, the cause was badly worn spark plugs. (https://www.6post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1647522 ) Here’s a discussion with other owners’ experiences with this warning. (https://www.6post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=804821 )
A 6 Series that displays a low battery warning could actually need new batteries in the car’s passive keyless access fob. Another symptom is a clicking sound from the fuel filler door when standing next to the car with the key on your person. (https://www.6post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1572792 ) Here’s another discussion tying the battery warning to a passive keyless entry fault. (https://www.6post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1647811 )
This owner’s M6 engine developed an ominous knocking sound that eventually required a pricey replacement engine. (https://www.6post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1629890 ) The owner’s advice? Get extended warranty coverage if you buy a 6 Series whose factory warranty is expired.
Here’s another M6 story about an engine that seized suddenly while the car was driving on the highway. (https://www.6post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1492386 )
In this discussion, a 6 Series owner asks for alternatives to the harsh-riding run-flat tires BMW installs on the car at the factory. (https://www.6post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1657837 )
This 6 Series owner put together a useful how-to for other owners who want to do their own basic maintenance. (https://www.6post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1314827 )
Other things to watch for in a used Audi A7, Porsche Panamera, or BMW 6 Series
Make sure electric/electronic features work properly: Luxury cars like these come standard with all kinds of high-tech features, even in base models. When test driving, spend some time using items like power windows, electric and hands-free trunk openers, climate control, and navigation/infotainment systems. Inconsistent operation could mean an expensive repair if the car you buy is out of warranty. If you’re shopping through a manufacturer’s certified pre-owned program, the vehicle should function and look as good as new.
Be careful with frameless door windows: Some of these cars have frameless door windows that allow designers to create a sleeker look. When you open the door, the window should automatically move down about an inch, and then go back up when the door is closed to create a weather-tight seal. Test this function on all four doors. If it doesn’t happen or happens inconsistently, it could damage the glass or the bodywork, especially when the door is swung closed.
Electrical problems? Check the battery first: If you do have post-purchase issues with any electric or electronic features, start your diagnosis at the car’s battery. Lower-than-normal voltage — even if it’s sufficient to start the car’s engine — can cause all manner of frustrating behaviour in a modern car.
Avoid modified cars: Modified cars are always an iffy proposition, as they can be an indication of a car that was driven aggressively. Also, if an aftermarket part fails and causes damage, it could void any remaining warranty coverage. This 6 Series owner had warranty coverage denied because they had installed aftermarket engine control software to boost the car’s performance. (https://www.6post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1502368 )