Posts Tagged ‘luxury car reviews’

First Drive: 2017 Cadillac CT6

Shooting to become the “standard of the world”…again.

by on Jan.26, 2016

The 2017 Cadillac CT6 will run from around $60,000 to $88,000 for a loaded Platinum edition.

We’ve seen some intriguing entries from Cadillac in recent years, such as the third-generation CTS and the smaller ATS line. But it’s been a seeming lifetime since the Detroit luxury brand could lay honest claim to being the “standard of the world.”

Now that it’s moved its headquarters to New York and laid down plans to roll out a procession of new models, might General Motors’ flagship brand finally be back on the right road? If any new model gives us an indication of where Cadillac is heading, it’s got to be the new CT6 sedan.

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Yes, the name is confusing, as it signals plans to tweak the brand’s alphanumeric model designations — again. But don’t get hung up on the name. The 2017 Cadillac CT6 is the maker’s first new offering we’ve seen in years that serves up an unabashed challenge to dominant import luxury marques like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus. (more…)

First Drive: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA

How low can luxury go?

by on Oct.02, 2013

The new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG becomes the lowest-priced performance model in the maker's AMG line-up.

What is the price of luxury? That might seem an intangible question to answer, but there’s no doubt the new 2014 Mercedes-Benz E550, at a starting price of $92,500, fits the bill. But what about the new Mercedes CLA, which is being advertised at its base price of $29,900?

It’s long been dogma that anything with the maker’s tri-star badge would be perceived as rising above the competition.  In this case, however, the competitors include not only traditional ones like BMW and Audi, but even more mainstream marques such as Ford – whose Fusion sedan in its Titanium edition trim comes in at almost $1,500 more than the new Mercedes CLA.

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Luxury carmakers have been rapidly expanding their line-ups lately — the Mercedes family is today an alphabetic mash-up – and in the process of filling every possible open niche, they’re moving down-market as well as up.  But that returns us to the basic question: is the 2014 Mercedes CLA a true luxury car? Indeed, would we consider it a real Mercedes if it weren’t adorned with that familiar and enviable tri-star?


First Drive: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec 4Matic

The mileage of an econocar, the look and feel of a Mercedes.

by on Sep.09, 2013

Mercedes intros a new four-cylinder diesel with the launch of the 2014 E250 BlueTec.

When it comes time to bring out an all-new version of the mid-range E-Class, the Mercedes-Benz product team doesn’t have much room for error, not when you consider the various sedans, coupes and wagons that make up the line account for a whopping 25% of the German maker’s U.S. volume.

The 2014 Mercedes E-Class is a deserving update, as we’ve previously reported, adding some welcome sporting touches to a nameplate traditional known as the more cushy of the midsize European luxury imports. With the addition of the E250, Mercedes goes a step further, proving that you can also deliver spirited performance out of a sedan that also manages to be surprisingly fuel-efficient, thanks to its new 2.1-liter inline-four BlueTec diesel.

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Better yet, with the addition of 4Matic all-wheel-drive, the new “oil burner” provides the sort of traction that not only grips the pavement firmly in snowy climes while also adding a bit more performance edge for those Sunbelt buyers likely to never see conditions worse than the occasional cloudburst.

Fire up the new diesel and what you notice – make that what you don’t notice – is the lack of the traditional clatter that has long haunted diesels, even at start-up or  when idling. On the open road you’d be hard-pressed to believe this is, in fact, a diesel.


First Drive: 2014 Infiniti Q50

Steering a new course.

by on Aug.05, 2013

The 2014 Infiniti Q50 is more than just an update of the old G - Series sedan.

There’s something a bit disconcerting lifting one’s hands off the steering wheel at freeway speeds, especially when your new Infiniti QX50 confidently maneuvers a high-speed curve without a moment’s hesitation – or drift.

With the launch of the new Q50, Infiniti is steering a new course – quite literally.  The new sedan, the replacement for the maker’s popular G series, is the first mass production automobile to use a steer-by-wire system, something Infiniti has dubbed Direct Adaptive Steering. But the sedan is also part of a figurative shift in direction by the Nissan luxury brand, after nearly a quarter century Infiniti now determined to move out of the second-tier ghetto to take on dominant luxury competitors like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus.

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Part of the strategy to get there involves an all-new alphanumeric naming system.  Forget G, M, FX and JX.  Going forward, all Infiniti passenger cars will begin with a “Q,” while all crossovers and light trucks will be badged “QX.” The 2014 Infiniti Q50 is the first model to adopt that new nomenclature.

Of course, simply planting a new name on an old G35 wouldn’t be enough to make the big jump that Infiniti aims for. But the 2014 QX50 is a lot more than just a modest model refresh.


Nudging 253 mph in a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport

From 0 to jail cell in less than three seconds.

by on Jun.14, 2013

A Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport at rest.

I’ve driven some really great cars in my lifetime.  Ferraris, Bentleys, Porsches, Mercedes – you name it, and chances are I’ve driven it.  That’s the life of an automotive journalist. But my head is still spinning and my heart is still pounding from a recent drive in what can be considered to the ultimate automobile, the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport.

It certainly is one of the most expensive, pushing $2 million.  And among the most powerful, nudging up towards 1,200 horsepower. And the fastest, pushing to speeds at which large jetliners would long be airborne. And the most exclusive, with production measured in the tens, not tens of thousands.

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The Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport is one of those rarities which, when given a chance you make sure to get behind the wheel.  But first, a little history.

The French car company with the Italian name (and now owned by German car company Volkswagen) was founded in 1909 by Ettore Bugatti.  Bugatti built some of the world’s most beautiful and successful cars, often raced against his main nemesis, Bentley.


First Drive: 2014 Kia Cadenza

The Korean maker targets the premium segment.

by on May.22, 2013

The 2014 Kia Cadenza.

Kia has grown quickly in recent years by offering consumers an array of interesting and well-designed vehicles that belie the brand’s original image as the maker of stripped-down econoboxes even while Kia maintains its focus on value.

The introduction this month of the Kia Cadenza is yet another big step in the evolution of the Korean brand, Kia taking its first step into $35,000- price range was once reserved for major luxury. Much like the Genesis offered by sibling Hyundai, the new Cadenza offers a level of refinement and features until now not associated with the Kia brand.

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Moreover, the Cadenza, like the Hyundai Genesis, is a very attractive vehicle. Its long, low silhouette endows the new Kia sedan with a long, elegant stance that conveys the sense this is a luxury vehicle. The front and rear fascias are very handsome with a nicely tailored appearance set off by the distinctive lamps at all four corners of the vehicle.


First Drive: 2014 Acura RLX

A worthy flagship.

by on Mar.01, 2013

With the 2014 RLX launch Acura finally gets a real flagship sedan.

When it was launched, more than a quarter-century ago, Acura transformed the way Americans thought about Japanese cars, proving that the Asians could challenge the well-established European and domestic luxury brands. But the initial success of the Honda Motor Co. subsidiary proved far too fleeting and in recent years, Acura has lagged in the back of the premium pack.

One can come up with any number of reasons to explain Acura’s malaise: the switch from well-respected model names like Legend to forgettable alphanumeric alternatives; some strange styling decisions, such as the awkward chrome grille critics deride as the “beak”; increased competition, especially from newer Japanese brands – but perhaps the start of the decline was the model that replaced the once-formidable Legend, the Acura RL.

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It wasn’t a bad car.  Well, not all that bad. It just wasn’t the sort of product to provide a halo around your brand – even if you could remember its name. Now, to be honest, there was more than a bit of disappointment when Acura announced it would introduce an all-new flagship model but not bring back the Legend nameplate. The question is whether the all-new 2014 Acura RLX delivers what the Honda luxury brand needs, whatever you call it?


First Drive:2013 Audi S8

A gold medal contender.

by on Feb.19, 2013

Audi delivers a new flagship with the 2013 S8.

The Auto Union was an amalgamation of four German automobile manufacturers, founded during the Great Depression. The company eventually evolved into present day Audi, and the four rings that adorn the grilles of the brand’s modern offerings represent the four original companies of Auto Union: Audi, Wanderer, DKW and Horch.

Each company brought specific technology to the Union, and today Audi is widely known for building All-Wheel Drive cars that feature safety, prodigious performance and superior technology – as well as for its benchmark interiors.

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When you look at the four-ringed Audi grille, you can’t help but compare it to the Olympic symbol — five interlaced rings.  For 2013, just imagine that the Auto Union had an additional company–adding that fifth ring, as the all-new Audi S8 is truly a gold medal contender.


First Look: 2013 BMW 7-Series

More power, more technology and your own Attention Assistant.

by on May.25, 2012

BMW officially reveals the 2013 7-Series tonight.

As bells chime midnight along Lake Como the folks attending the annual concourse at tony Villa d’Este will get their first look at the updated 2013 BMW 7-Series.  Lucky for us had a chance to get an advance look at the new flagship sedan following a media ride-and-drive in Santa Barbara.

The redesigned 7-Series will go through a number of notable changes for the upcoming model-year, with exterior design revisions starting from the trademark kidney grille back, as well as significant revisions to the powertrain line-up.  The 2013 sedan will get more power, better mileage, plenty of new technology, and improved safety systems including something BMW has dubbed “Attention Assistant.”

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Even the classic and oft-debated iDrive system undergoes some big changes to match the improvements to the updated 7-Series infotainment system, which now features a super-high-resolution video display that even Apple might envy.


Cadillac ATS to Start at $33,990

Maker will have slight advantage over BMW 3-Series.

by on May.07, 2012

Cadillac's new ATS will plug a gaping hole at the bottom of the maker's line-up.

Cadillac is betting it can win entry into the hotly competitive luxury market with a mix of styling, performance and pricing, the base model of its new 2013 ATS sedan to carry a sticker of $33,990.

That’s about $2,000 less than the MSRP for the king of the compact luxury segment, the BMW 3-Series, which starts at $35,795 for the base 328i.

But as with BMW and other competitors, the Detroit maker plans to offer a wide array of options, including all-wheel-drive and a more sporty V-6, which will let buyers nudge the price tag for the 2013 Cadillac ATS all the way up into the mid-$40,000 range.

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“The ATS enters a vehicle segment this year that’s one of the most competitive in the market, from both a price and performance standpoint,” said Cadillac’s director of marketing Don Butler. “ATS will bring a distinctive presence and compelling value while offering quick, nimble, fun-to-drive dynamics that will appeal to the lifestyles of modern luxury buyers and challenge the segment’s status quo.”

Of course, Cadillac has tried that before.



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