A luxury vehicle is something that should be a rolling oasis amidst the desert of daily commuting. Sure, some people will look upon your ride as irrational exuberance, but you earned the right to roll in style. luxury vehicles – sedans and utilities – in this universe are also at the leading edge of development. Advances in safety, performance and convenience start at this level and trickle down to the hoi polloi. Here’s a snapshot of what’s coming and what automakers’ imaginations have produced, starting with the most recently unveiled.
Photo credit: Staff, Automakers
2009 Acura TSX
The 2009 Acura TSX is a tale of two Hondas. Good Honda: Giving the TSX more style, room and luxury to go with proven handling fun. Bad Honda: No turbo or diesel for now, and no significant upgrade one model year after the Accord was completely reworked. With the same 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, performance upgrades are modest and confined to eight more lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to either a six-speed manual or a sporty five-speed automatic transmission.
BMW CS Concept
The most significant thing about the BMW CS Concept is that it’s here and looking very production-feasible, even with a slightly crazy-yet-elegant approach to the sheet metal. While it's mostly a design direction at this point, the specs come in as slightly larger and longer than the 7 Series, which lights up the speculation machine regarding a possible new 8 Series. For BMW fans, the CS signals that the Bavarian automaker is now seriously in the game against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the Porsche Panamera.
2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS
When we drove the CLS two years ago, the most notable characteristic was its good looks. That hasn’t changed; it’s still a sleek car with what amounts to mostly cosmetic changes for 2009. In addition to a mild nose job, the grille has two bars instead of four and the upper and lower openings have gray mesh. In back, a new rear bumper is joined by new taillamps and exhaust tips. Beyond the cosmetic changes, there are few changes. The next generation of the E-Class is due next year.
2009 BMW M3 Convertible
The M3 has evolved over time from a racing car into a full-fledged lineup unto itself. The newest M3 has already debuted in coupe and sedan form, and both are bona fide winners. In Geneva, BMW completed its lineup with the introduction of the drop-top version, and it now unveils the car for the U.S. market in New York. Like the coupe and sedans, the M3 convertible comes with a 4.0-liter V-8 pushing 414 horses at a lofty 8,300 rpm, and 295 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,900 rpm.
2009 Infiniti FX
Infiniti redesigns the FX, its rear- or all-wheel drive crossover based on the same platform as the G sedan. Although styling isn’t radically different on the second generation, there are a few new features including a seven-speed automatic transmission and larger V-8 engine for the FX50. The new 5.0-liter, overhead-cam V-8 produces 390 horsepower, a whopping 70 horsepower gain over the 4.5-liter version. The FX35 continues with a V-6, although details haven’t been released.
2009 Audi A4 Avant
Sharing its underpinnings with the new A4 sedan and the A5 coupe, the A4 Avant promises good things to those who love to drive but need to carry a lot of stuff, too. Audi isn’t giving out any specifics, but anticipate a good step up from the current 2.0-liter turbo. The optional upgrade engine will be the 3.2-liter V-6 with Audi’s FSI direct injection technology, good for 265 horsepower.
2009 Jaguar XKR Portfolio
When you see the word “Portfolio” in a Jaguar’s name, expect two things. First, there won’t be very many of them. Second, there will be luxurious surroundings, such as leather-covered dash, sumptuous seating, high-end audio systems and maybe even a few extra performance goodies. The XKR Portfolio sports the same engine and transmission as other XKRs: A 4.2-liter supercharged V-8 coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. The combination is good for 420 horsepower, and makes the XKR seriously quick.
2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4
The Gallardo is the “baby” Lamborghini, the budget model, if you will. However, even with the ground-thumping Murcielago pounding away in the background, and the ultra-expensive (and fast) Reventon now in the stable, the Gallardo still gets a lot of love from its manufacturer. Case in point: The Gallardo LP560-4. Official information from Lamborghini is sparse, but what we do know is that the V-10 engine displaces 5.2-liters, has direct-injection, and puts out 552 horsepower.
2009 Acura RL
Acura has officially unveiled the 2009 RL, representing a thorough revisiting of its flagship sedan. The RL hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since its introduction in 2005, namely for its overly subdued styling. Acura kicked it up a notch with an MDX-inspired grille, new headlights and taillights. The new look is certainly aggressive, and with a bigger engine it has the chops to back it up. Acura bumped engine displacement from 3.5 liters to 3.7 liters, with a commensurate increase in horsepower from 290 hp to an even 300 hp.
BMW 1 Series tii Concept
Long-time fans of the Roundel logo will recognize the tii suffix as being one that graced the later model 2002 sedan of the 1970s. BMW has made no secret that it wants the 1 Series to be viewed as a car in the same vein as the 2002 – a light, agile, quick two-door sedan. The emphasis here is on weight reduction and aerodynamics. There's no word on what powers the BMW 1 Series tii Concept, but we suspect it’s the same twin-turbocharged, 300-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine that's found in the production 135i.
2009 Hummer H3T Alpha
Rumors of an H3 with a truck bed have abounded ever since the SUV was introduced. Turns out the rumors were true. The H3T boasts five-passenger seating and a five-foot truck bed big enough for dirt bikes, a snowmobile or the good ol’ sheet of plywood. Alpha versions will also be available, with GM’s 5.3-liter V-8 engine providing enough grunt for 5,900 pounds of towing capacity. The engine choices for the H3T are the same as those for the full-bodied H3.
Audi R8 V12 TDI Concept
If Audi’s not careful, it could become the poster company for conspicuous consumption, automaker style. First it brings out the R8 with its 4.8-liter V-8, then the next thing you know there’s talk of a 5.0-liter…and now, there’s bluster about a V12 TDI. At some point you have to stop, even if you can keep going. Only problem is that this particular concept is quite a bit more than a good idea, and delivers all the power of a rocket ship with plus-20 mpg.
2009 Audi TTS
Move over, Boxster. After 10 years – much of it spent as a performance runner-up – the Audi TT gets an S of its very own. The TTS brings real performance credentials to the tune of 272 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Pricing is expected to settle in at around 60 grand. A turbocharged V-6 will produce 272 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque’s worth of fun. The TTS also comes with Audi's adaptive magnetic dampening system and the S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox.
2009 BMW 335d
BMW, not content to let rival Mercedes-Benz bask in the diesel spotlight, is bringing a twin-turbo, diesel-powered 3 Series sedan to all 50 of these United States late in 2008. Like its Teutonic rival, BMW uses urea injection to turn nitric oxides into nitrogen and water vapor, thereby meeting emissions regulations. The system also doesn’t need to be refilled any more often than when owners have the engine oil changed, a move by both automakers to lessen any inconvenience. BMW’s diesel is a 3.0-liter, inline-six cylinder, twin-turbo engine.
2009 BMW X5 xDrive35d
Despite the cumbersome moniker, the xDrive35d is a turbo diesel powered X5, and it’s going to be a 50-state vehicle when it arrives late this year. BMW’s diesel is a 3.0-liter, inline-six cylinder, twin-turbo engine, the same one that will be offered in 335d. BMW is emphasizing how important diesel power is to its plans to reduce carbon emissions. The engine produces 265 horsepower and 425 lb.-ft. of torque – good for 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds in the crossover, BMW says. The xDrive35d goes on sale in the fall.
2008 BMW X6
The idea is to combine the driving dynamics of a 6 Series with the X Series-styled body done as a coupe with four doors. It comes in two models, xDrive50i and the xDrive35i, both of which are all-wheel drive. The X6 comes with either a new 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V8 in the xDrive50i or a 3.0-liter, twin-turbo, inline six-cylinder in the xDrive35i. The V8 produces 400 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque while the V6 serves up 300 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of twist.
Buick Riviera Concept
When General Motors unveiled the Buick Riviera Concept at the Shanghai Auto Show in 2007, GM was saying two things. First, it was saying that it sells a LOT of Buicks in China, and intends to solidify its commitment to the country with this China-designed coupe. Second, it was telling the world that Buick is back, baby, and it's going to be the source of some beautiful cars. Nobody knows what powers the Riviera Concept. However, if a production version ever appears, we hope it sports the powertrain from the Cadillac CTS.
2009 Cadillac CTS-V
If there ever were doubts that Cadillac was shooting for the top, this should erase them. The numbers here are simple: 550 horsepower, 550 lb.-ft. of torque, and a six-speed manual transmission. Were these numbers for a special edition Corvette, we’d be happy enough. But when they’re specs for the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V – a freakin’ 550-horsepower Cadillac! – well, we start to wonder if it’s time to dust off that old “Standard of the World” moniker.
2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Once in a while, a car comes along that – even before the first one is sold – is automatically a classic. Well, add another one: the 2009 Corvette ZR1. Touted as being the most powerful and fastest Corvette ever, the ZR1 doesn’t just come to the gunfight properly armed; it brings the whole freakin’ arsenal. The LS9 6.2-liter V-8 under the hood boasts a new four-lobe Roots-type supercharger, pushing power to “at least 100 horsepower per liter.”
2010 Fisker Karma
This car is going to be an oddly exclusive ride. Despite a projected annual production run of approximately 15,000 units, the Karma comes much closer to the true definition of exclusive thanks to the plug-in’s first-to-market status, relatively affordable $80,000 base price, lithium ion battery technology, full-electric range of 50 miles and a gas/electric fuel economy rating of 100 mpg. That kind of exclusivity will be available from Fisker in late 2009.
2009 Hyundai Genesis Sedan
The Genesis is aimed squarely at Lexus, Infiniti and BMW and includes some truly luxo features – radar smart cruise control, self-leveling and cornering HID head lamps, eight airbags, heated and cooled seats and the usual bevy of Bluetooth, satellite and HD radio. A Lexicon audio system with 17 speakers is available, and Hyundai is quick to point out that the only other car with that system is the Rolls Royce.
Land Rover LRX Concept
Land Rover says its LRX Concept is a very different vehicle from what it has made before because the LRX is lighter, more compact and more “sustainable,” but is still in keeping with the brand’s off-road strengths. Translation: It’s a crossover, which Land Rover acknowledges. The three-door vehicle is smaller than the LR2 and is being touted by Land Rover as a “cross-coupe.” While the LRX Concept is a long way from a production model, it is also a litmus test for this kind of vehicle.
Lincoln MKT Concept
Lincoln bills the MKT Concept, which is built on the Ford Flex platform, as a luxury touring vehicle in crossover clothing. Power comes from a 3.5-liter, direct-injection, twin-turbo V-6, which feeds into a six-speed automatic transmission. The four-seater includes every current luxury feature and plus a few new tricks. Efficiency and recycled materials are part of the concept’s execution, and Lincoln showcases its new design language. The MKT gets the EcoBoost engine, which is being introduced in the Lincoln range on the MKS sedan next year.
Maybach Landaulet Concept
The ultra-luxury brand from Daimler-Benz says the Landaulet is designed to be a chauffeur-driven vehicle. The car’s primary feature is a top that retracts to open up the passenger section to the sky while the chauffer area remains closed. The two sections have different color schemes and appointments; the chauffeur’s is all black and more businesslike, while the passenger section is white and opulent, built with luxury and exclusivity in mind. Maybach took the study as an opportunity to further tweak the AMG-built, twin-turbo V-12 engine.
Vision Mercedes-Benz GLK
A production version of the GLK goes on sale in January 2009. Pricing has not been announced, but you can expect the C-Class derivative to compete with the BMW X3 and new Land Rover LR2. Assumptions and reports indicate that the GLK will be powered by a 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine mated to the automaker's seven-speed automatic transmission and featuring 4MATIC all wheel drive. The big news, however, is that of a new 2.2-liter, four-cylinder, Bluetec diesel engine introduced with the Vision Concept.