A quick look at 28 new luxury vehicles to watch out for in 2010
Times are tough all over. Jobs are in short supply, millionaires are disappearing, and banks don't even want to give you any money. So why are so many awesome luxury cars coming out in the next 12 months? Blame long product planning cycles, overly optimistic economic projections, or just weird timing, but regardless, we'll see two new Bentleys, a new Rolls-Royce, lots of BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis and Acuras and even a $2 million Aston Martin. If you're an enthusiast that has somehow managed to keep your stacks fat, it's a banner year. For everyone else, well, at least we have something to aspire to, right? Either way, here is a sampling of brand new (or significantly updated) debuts from luxury car manufacturers. These vehicles are either available now as 2010 models, going on sale in 2010, or debuting in 2010 as future production models.
When it goes on sale this winter, the 2010 Acura ZDX will be the second "four-door coupe" crossover utility vehicle on the market, following last year's BMW X6. The ZDX shares a similar mission by offering the utility of a crossover but the performance and sleeker styling of a coupe or sedan. With 300 horsepower, room for five and the most luxurious interior of any Acura thanks to its hand-stitched leather dash and panoramic glass roof, the ZDX has the goods. It also emulates its BMW rival in another area: Styling that turns heads, but maybe not for the right reasons. The judge is out until we see this one in person.
The Aston Martin One-77 is the ultimate expression of everything the company is capable of doing. That's a thumbnail of the press info on the car, and from what we see under the skin, we think it's true. Using a race-derived pushrod-style suspension (bonus points to you if you don't need to Google that), a naturally-aspirated 700-hp V-12 engine, and a hand-fabricated carbon fiber body that's superficially similar to its other coupes, Aston Martin promises that the One-77 will be the fastest, best handling car it has ever made. At a cool $2 million, it is the most expensive Aston Martin ever.
The Aston Martin DB9 is arguably the world's most beautiful car. Its sensual styling, beautiful curves and striking performance mean you don't need to be James Bond to wind up with a countess in the passenger seat. Which makes the 2010 Aston Martin Rapide an enigma: It's essentially a stretched version of this stunning coupe with two more doors. It should be a recipe for disaster, but on the contrary, the Rapide is shaping up to be one of the most beautiful sedans ever made. With a 470-hp V-12 engine connected to a six-speed transmission, it promises to be one of the fastest, too.
An all-new Audi A3 is coming in a couple of years, but we wanted to highlight an important change to the lineup for 2010. No, it's not the subtly restyled nose, nor the LED-enhanced headlights, nor the minor revisions to the rear end. Instead, it's the addition of an available diesel engine in the new TDI model, which in a lot of ways puts the A3 in a class by itself. Audi's banking on diesel as the green technology of tomorrow, and this is a good one: Official fuel economy numbers aren't in yet, but the A3 TDI got more than 50 mpg during a cross-country publicity stunt earlier this year.
The next-generation Audi A8 will be unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show later this year, but there's already plenty of speculation about it. Rumor has it that the new big-boy will boast sharper styling, closer in feel to the bolder lines of the A5 and new A4 than the soft curves of the current car. Power will come from a variety of Audi powerplants, from the 3.0-liter TDI V-6 to possibly a 600-plus horsepower V-12 in S8 versions. Either way, it looks like the A8's days of being the conservative one in the luxury sedan segment are numbered.
The Bentley Continental Supersports is the most powerful and fastest Bentley the company has ever produced. The Supersports sends the 621 hp from its turbocharged W12 engine to all four wheels, propelling the nearly 5,000-lb coupe to a 204-mph top speed. All the while, the driver will be coddled by the most luxurious interior one can possibly imagine. The topper? It's environmentally friendly, thanks to its ethanol-burning engine. OK, Prius drivers aren't going to be impressed, but rich gearheads can at least pretend they're part of the solution.
The Grand Bentley will be revealed at the Pebble Beach Concour d'Elegance in August. It will replace the ancient Arnage as the company's top-tier luxury car. And that's about all we know. Bentley has kept the lid tight on this one, with only the usual public relations hyperbole about best in the business this, most luxurious that, and world-class the other. The official website doesn't offer much info, either. We'll have to wait, but suffice it to say, it's going to be something special.
BMW seems to have developed a thing for sportback-styled four doors. First was the X6, a giant crossover with a sloping rear roofline of dubious functionality, but which at least boasts distinct style. Now the company is debuting the 5 Series Grand Touring, a fastback version of its wildly popular 5 Series sedans. The resulting car looks a lot like the X6, but without the extreme ground clearance. In all honesty, we're not sure it's a good thing. The GT's peculiar roofline, cut-off tail and overall odd proportions remind us too much of the X6, which is not one of the company's most attractive vehicles.
BMW has, officially, gone utility-crazy. The X5 was the first salvo, followed by the smaller X3. OK, keeping up with the Joneses and all that. Then came the peculiar X6 and now, the small X1. Based off the same platform as the upcoming Mini crossover (BMW owns Mini), the X1 slots below the X3 and is currently available in Europe with a variety of efficient diesel and gasoline engines. BMW hasn't said what will power the U.S. versions, but with the company's recent forays into diesel powerplants, it's possible an oil-burner could be in the offing at some point.
The next-generation X3 is still mostly under wraps, although spy photographers have grabbed their share of prototypes camouflaged in a black and white paisley-pattern. A new X3 wasn't anticipated for a while, but the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLK may have moved up the schedule. Regardless, the styling looks closer to the X5, and engine choices will likely stay true to what we know: A couple of different gasoline-burning six-cylinders and more than likely, a diesel variant for the U.S. We'll know sometime next summer.