Tag Archives: luxury car

Rolls-Royce planning plug-in hybrid

Rolls-Royce 102EX

Luxury car maker Rolls-Royce has confirmed plans to introduce its first-ever plug-in hybrid model within the next three years.

Rolls-Royce Develop Electric Phantom

Speaking to Auto Express during the Geneva Motor Show, Rolls-Royce’s CEO, Torsten Müller-Otvos, described hybrid technology as “essential in two years, maybe not from customer demand but through legal regulation on emissions,” if the car company wants to continue using V12 powerplants.

Rolls-Royce 102EX

Rolls-Royce has already toyed with an all-electric version of its Phantom flagship, the 102EX, but it failed to excite any of the brand’s existing clients and so never went any further than the prototype stage.

Phantom 102EX

“A Rolls-Royce cannot come with any kind of compromise, and both the recharging times and the range were not acceptable for our buyers — but with hybrid technology that is no longer a problem,” said Müller-Otvos.

It is unclear what model Rolls-Royce could first implement a plug-in hybrid powertrain into, but the next-generation Phantom is a possible candidate.

BMW X5 eDrive

It’s likely Rolls-Royce’s plug-in hybrid car would use technology from parent company BMW, which is set to launch the X5 eDrive (below).

bmw x5 edrive concept charging

While Rolls-Royce is now a self-sustaining business without influence from BMW, the prohibitive cost of developing an all-new plug-in powertrain means BMW’s help may be invaluable in getting such a car to market.

Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II (Video)

Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, the Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II boasts the perfect combination of performance, comfort and connectivity.

Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II

According to the company, that was Rolls-Royce’s brief when it set out to improve on the original car and as such the external changes are subtle: new headlights, a more tapered nose, tweaked front and rear bumpers.

Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II photo

However, inside, the car gets a wifi hotspot and a reworked multimedia interface for front and rear passengers and new seats. These seats actually have business and relaxation adjustment settings.

Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II interior

And to make sure that nothing disturbs the occupants, the Satellite Aided Transmission system (SAT), which debuted on the Ghost‘s sportier brother, the Wraith, last year, is also included. This clever system uses information from the satnav system regarding conditions and the road ahead to preemptively adjust the car’s gear selection for an even smoother ride.

Maserati Alfieri Concept (Video)

MASERATI is celebrating its centenary in style with the Alfieri, a stunning 2+2 GT concept named in honor of Alfieri Maserati, who founded the firm.

Maserati Alfieri concept car

It’s easy to build a concept car that can wow the crowds and generate excitement. A concept car doesn’t have to be road legal, it doesn’t have to be built from anything stronger than papier-mâché and it doesn’t need an engine.

Maserati Alfieri concept Geneva

What makes the Alfieri so promising is that it is a fully-working prototype and one that visually pays homage to a host of glorious historic Maseratis, from the A6 GCS-53 to the 1959 5000 GT and the 1969 Indy and beyond.

Its lines are strong, but uncluttered and the car seems ready to pounce, thanks to 21-inch rear and 20-inch front wheels.

Maserati Alfieri concept

Inside, the minimalism continues. The simple, two-tone floating dashboard is built around a central touchscreen while the floor is finished in a material that looks like oxidized steel, the material of choice for 1950s racecars.

Maserati Alfieri concept interior

There are other metallic highlights, too — such as the use of milled aluminum for the seat inserts, clock surround and gear lever which have then been hand-finished and anodized in a natural copper hue.

Under the hood, the Alfieri has a 4.7-liter V8 (without turbo) which delivers its 460bhp to the rear wheels via a six-speed electro-actuated gearbox.

Maserati Alfieri Concept

With that much power on tap Maserati has also been wise to fit the car with carbon ceramic brakes with Brembo brake calipers.

Lamborghini Egoista photo

Lamborghini to Debut Renewed Customization Program

It looks as if one of the stand-out luxury automotive trends for 2014 is going to be bespoke customization.

Lamborghini Egoista photo

In the lead up the Geneva Motor Show, which opens its doors to the public in little more than a week, both Ferrari and Rolls-Royce have announced that 2013 was a record year for client customization requests.

Every single new Ferrari plus 95% of Rollers sold over the past 12 months were personalized, and now Lamborghini is looking to get in on the action.

Lamborghini Aventador roadster photo

Like its closest rivals, Lamborghini already has a personalization program, called Ad Personam. But until now, it was only open to clients looking to buy and personalize the company’s flagship Aventador.

However, its reach is now being extended to cover the Huracán, which goes on sale later this year.

Lamborghini Huracan interior

As well as opening the program to all new Lamborghini production models, the customization options are also being extended.

There will be a greater choice of interior and exterior color options, a wider selection of leathers and even the option of Forged Composite, Lamborghini’s patented carbon-fiber-based material as a replacement material for elements of the body work or cabin.

Mansory Carbonado Aventador‎

But it doesn’t stop there. At the Geneva Motor Show, Lamborghini will be launching the Ad Personam Studio, a “fully-functional and highly-exclusive design studio where customers are assisted in the process of creating their very own, made-to-order Lamborghini Aventador.”

rolls royce two tone bespoke ghost

Rolls-Royce owners like the personal touch

Just like Ferrari, Rolls-Royce has confirmed that 2013 was a record year for clients customizing their cars and the trend looks set to continue.

rolls royce ghost bespoke design interior

Rolls-Royce says that bespoke customization requests are nearing the 100 percent mark and that 2013 was the busiest its team of artisans and craftsmen have ever been. In all, 95 percent of the 3,630 cars it sold globally over the past 12 months left the factory with bespoke options.

This includes 90% of all Rolls-Royce Wraiths, the company’s newest and most powerful car, which only went on sale in mid-2013. And when it comes to customization, the Middle East is the most demanding region, 99% of Ghosts and Phantoms arrived in the region with a personal touch.

rolls royce ghost bespoke

Globally, the company’s flagship Phantom remains the most popular car for customization for all clients, wherever they are based, with 98% of US Phantom owners and 95 percent of European clients specifying bespoke details or features. In Asia the trend is not yet as well established — only 86% of customers in the region decided to get creative with their care.

“This continuing growth in Bespoke sales in 2013 proves the fact that Rolls-Royce is the home of Bespoke in the luxury world,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

2015 Aston Martin V8 Vantage N430 back

Aston Martin reveals new special editions

Aston Martin will be taking the wraps off exclusive versions of its V8 Vantage and DB9 models that up the style, performance and use of carbon fiber.

2015 Aston Martin V8 Vantage N430

Aston Martin describes the V8 Vantage N430 as a “bold addition” to the existing range, and for once that’s not an overstatement.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage N430

Inspired by the company’s track cars, the use of bright contrasting paint to accentuate the car’s grille and A-pillars make it look like it’s wearing lipstick, a bold look indeed.

2015 Aston Martin V8 Vantage N430 back

The N430 offers 436PS on tap from a tweaked V8 engine and a 0-100km/h time of 4.6 seconds and is 20kg lighter than the standard model, thanks in part to the carbon fiber and Kevlar racing seats and magnesium gear paddle shifts that come as standard. The cabin also gets carbon fiber inserts and a Piano Black fascia finish to complete the look.

2014 Aston Martin DB9 Carbon Black

The DB9 Carbon edition (available in Carbon Black or Carbon White) does use carbon fiber in some of its panels to save weight and therefore improve performance, but the use of the lightweight material is governed as much by style as it is by increasing top speeds.

And on the White edition in particular, the carbon elements contrast well with the car’s Stratus White paint finish.

2014 Aston Martin DB9 Carbon White

Inside, the DB9 Carbon is awash with black leather — to match the black instrument panel and carbon fiber trim — which can be accented with another contrasting color while a door sill plaque notes the car’s rarity.

2014 Aston Martin DB9 Carbon Black interior

Aston Martin has announced that neither car will be offered to North American customers when they go on sale later this year.

Mercedes Benz S class Coupe S500

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe unveiled

What seemed like nothing more than a promising luxury sports concept vehicle at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show will be launching as a fully fledged production car at the Geneva Motor Show this March.

Mercedes Benz S class Coupe S500

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe is a two-door version of the brand’s full-size S sedan and replaces the CL in Mercedes’ lineup.

Under the hood power and performance are derived from a 4.6-liter V8 biturbo engine, good for 455hp and immense levels of torque.

S coupe

Keeping the car’s occupants completely cossetted no matter how tricky the driving gets is a new ‘curve tilting function’, a world-first in a production car.

It means that the S-Class Coupé actively leans into bends, which not only improve the driving line but also dramatically reduces lateral acceleration and the g-force felt by those traveling in the car.

Mercedes Benz S class Coupe interior

This new feature is an addition to the Magic Body Control — essentially a suspension system with eyes — that debuted on the sedan version of the S-Class. It monitors the road ahead and automatically adjusts the ride and shock absorber settings to suit ahead of time.

Mercedes Benz S class Coupe steering wheel

Other features aimed at comfort and affability include a reworked, curving instrument panel and dashboard fascia that uses TFT screens rather than dials and buttons and the inclusion of a panoramic glass roof.

Mercedes Benz S class Coupe S500 top view

Mercedes will be taking the wraps off the S-Class Coupé March 6 at the Geneva Motor Show. A price or release date is yet to be revealed.

Model S

Tesla unveils pricing strategy for China

Electric carmaker Tesla Motors said its flagship vehicle will have the same pre-tax price in China as in the US, after Chinese media criticised foreign companies for charging higher prices in the country.

Model S

The Tesla Model S sells for $81,070 in the US and the company will receive the same sum for it in China, the world’s biggest auto market.

Nonetheless the sticker price for the premium car will start from 734,000 yuan ($121,370), with the difference accounted for by $36,700 in taxes imposed by the Chinese government and shipping costs of $3,600, it said.

Tesla said the Chinese market could have absorbed a higher price for its cars and attacked rivals for charging more.

“We know that our competitors will try to convince Chinese consumers that our relatively lower price tag means the Model S is a lesser car, when the real reason their car costs more is that they make double the profit per car in China compared to the United States or Europe,” Tesla said.

Foreign brand vehicles have performed well in the China market, helped by perceptions of higher quality and better recognition, making the country a critical market for global automakers.

Tesla has received more than 200 pre-orders for its Model S and Model X in China, state media reported, but analysts say the company will face challenges from the slow development of the country’s electric car market.

Lamborghini SUV Urus Concept

The Lamborghini SUV is Going on Sale in 2017

Lamborghini has confirmed that its Urus SUV concept, which was introduced at the Bejing Auto Show in 2012, will be a reality by 2017.

Lamborghini SUV Urus Concept

Specific details about the production version of the Urus are very thin on the ground but what is certain is that, unlike its flagship supercars, this vehicle will not have a V12 engine, unless it is a very frugal powerplant and one mated to a battery motor.

European emissions laws will be so tight by 2017 that the V12 will have been consigned to history by pretty much every motor manufacturer by that time.

Most likely is a de-tuned V10 like the one in the existing Gallardo supercar or a twin turbo V8 to ensure maximum torque and power even at low speeds. That said, one thing that is clear is that Lamborghini is hoping that the final engine produces 600bph – i.e., more than a Ferrari Enzo.

Lamborghini Urus Beijing

At the moment, Land Rover’s latest Range Rover more or less has the market segment to itself — there is no other vehicle available that offers the car’s levels of off-road technology, on-road performance and in-cabin luxury.

However, it is about to be challenged in the shape of new models from Bentley, Audi and now Lamborghini.

In July, Bentley officially green-lit production of its own SUV, expected to arrive in 2016 and Aston Martin has also made it clear that it still has plans on the table to relaunch its Lagonda brand as a range of luxury off-roaders.

Even Rolls-Royce has admitted that although it has no current plans that it would “never say never” when it came to entering the SUV segment.

Ghost V Specification

Rolls-Royce announces limited-edition Ghost

The Rolls-Royce Ghost V-Specification boasts greater power and will only be available for customers to commission for the next six months.

Ghost V Specification

The company’s chief executive, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, says that the idea behind the limited edition is to celebrate “one of Ghost‘s defining characteristics: the exquisite 6.6-liter Rolls-Royce V12 engine.”

The car, which can be specified as a standard or extended wheelbase model, will feature a 30bph power increase over the standard edition, which translates into a 0-62mph (100km/h) time of 4.7 sec.

Owners will also be able to select one of five specially developed exterior paint colors for the car or to select one from the company’s existing 44,000-hue palette. The vehicle will also sit on exclusive 21-inch part-polished wheels and can be specified with visible chromed exhausts.

Ghost V Specification interior

Providing a subtle clue to passengers that the car is a little more exclusive than an everyday Rolls-Royce are V-Specification motifs which appear on the door treadplates, on the steel inlays to the front multimedia screen lid and embroidered into the rear armrest.

Completing the look is an exclusively designed clock with a black crown surrounding the face. The order book for the V-Specification opens Wednesday but will close again in June.

1954 Mercedes Benz W196

The world’s priciest vintage cars

What a difference a year makes. Only 12 months ago the list was a mix of marques from Bugatti to Rolls-Royce, but this year the list has seen more movement than the pop charts with four new entries and seven of the top 10 places being occupied by Ferraris.

1954 Mercedes Benz W196

1. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 – $29.65 million

When this car came up for auction, no one even dared hazard a guess as to an estimate. And that’s understandable, as this Mercedes is more than a car, as a vehicle driven by Fangio, it is a piece of automotive history and one that won Formula One races. There’s some dispute as to whether it should make the list, because it is not road legal, however, there’s no doubting that at $29,650,095 (€22,701,864) it is the most expensive classic car ever sold at auction.

1967 Ferrari 275 GTB

2. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider by Scaglietti – $27.5 million 

Why did this car cost so much? Because if one enterprising US Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti, hadn’t taken Enzo – that’s Enzo Ferrari – to one side and had a whisper in his ear, telling the genius where he was going wrong, it would never have been built.

Chinetti suggested that Ferrari make a convertible version of the 275 GTB/4 to make it easier to sell to his customers, and the N.A.R.T. Spider by Scaglietti was born. Only 10 were ever made and when this car sold for $27,500,000 in August, the proceeds went to charity.

1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

3. 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa Prototype – $16.39 million

In third place is the first of two Testa Rossas: this one sold at auction in 2011 for $16.39 million thanks to its incredible racing pedigree. What’s more it is actually the prototype model on which all subsequent Red Heads (Testa Rossa means red head in Italian) were based. The car was painstakingly restored after it crashed on the track and burst into flames.

1964 Ferrari 250 LM

4. 1964 Ferrari 250 LM by Carrozzeria Scaglietti $14.3 million

Next up is the third car to make it into the list in 2013, in fact this 250 LM only just made the cut as the auction was held in November. At $14.3 million it broke all previous records for its model but like all of the Ferraris at the upper end of the list, the premium paid is down to the importance of the car in terms of Ferrari’s history, legend and mythology. This was the first mid-engined V12 the company ever produced and inspired a new design language.

1953 Ferrari 340 375 MM Berlinetta Competizione

5. 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta ‘Competizione’ $12.8 million

Another Ferrari and another car sold within the last 12 months. Until the 250 LM went under the hammer, it also held the distinction of being the most expensive closed-in Berlinetta Ferrari ever to sell at auction. However, one thing that it still holds onto is its success on the track. It is still to this day one of the most important cars in Ferrari’s racing history.

1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

6. 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa $12.4 million 

The second Testa Rossa and, back in 2009 when it went under the hammer, it was the most expensive Ferrari ever sold at auction. This one managed to win Le Mans three times.

1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster

7. 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster $11.77 million 

Finally, something other than a Ferrari. But, like the car in first place, this is also a Mercedes but a very different one at that. An example of this incredibly elegant, but rather sporty in its day, open-top cruiser once belonged to Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone.

He sold it at auction for a then-record of $6.3 million in 2007 only for another of the 26 remaining examples to fall under the hammer at last year’s Pebble Beach, fetching $11.7 million.

1960 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione

8. 1960 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione $11.2 million 

In eighth place, yes, another Ferrari and a very handsome one at that. The California models were so called because they were aimed at Californians, who wanted to cruise the boulevards with the top down, but then floor the accelerator and tear it up in the mountains. The price paid for this long wheel base model may well have been influenced by the value of the car now sitting in 10th place.

1968 Ford GT40

9. 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage Lightweight Racing Car $11 million

The Ford GT40 was one of the greatest sportscars in history. Built to beat Ferrari, it did just that – just not in this list. What makes this example even more important is that as well as a racing pedigree, its former owner was none other than Steve McQueen. It might be pretty low down in the chart but it is still at $11 million it the most expensive American car ever to go under the hammer.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider

10. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder $10.89 million 

In last place is one of the most attractive cars that Ferrari ever built and, like the GT40, it’s a car with a famous former owner – James Coburn. What’s more, when this car was sold in 2008 it made the headlines because it was the most expensive car to sell at auction. The successful bidder, UK TV and radio broadcaster, Chris Evans revealed that he bought it because he fell in love with it, and that he had only intended to buy a couple of Ferrari posters at the sale, but got carried away.

Q1 SUV

Audi planning baby SUV

Q1 SUV

The German carmaker believes there’s space for another off-road derivative in its growing range of vehicles and will start production on the Q1 in 2016.

Audi executives claim that the car will bring all of the performance and luxury elements of the existing, larger Q vehicles — the Q3, RS Q3, Q5, RS Q5 and Q7 — to a new range of consumers and that the decision is motivated by the fact that it is seeing significant growth in demand for its existing SUVs.

Over the last six years, 1.5 million customers have bought an Audi off-roader, and Audi believes that by the end of the decade, 35 percent of its customers will be SUV drivers.

To whet people’s appetite before production commences, the company has released a concept image to give potential customers an idea of stylistic cues and proportions.

And as sci-fi as the artist’s rendering may seem, don’t forget, Audi has an incredible track record when it comes to building production cars that look almost identical to their initial concepts.

Rolls Royce Wraith Harrods Window

Rolls-Royce planning convertible Wraith

Rolls Royce Wraith Harrods Window

A Drophead version of Rolls-Royce’s latest sports coupe, which delighted the crowds at the Geneva Motorshow, will go into production in 2015.

Unlike the existing models in the company’s growing line-up, the Wraith is focused as much on performance as it is on out-and-out luxury, and although Rolls-Royce established itself some 107 years ago as a performance car company, it is with comfort and exclusivity rather than seat-of-the-pants driving thrills that it has come to be associated with.

Therefore, the decision to build a GT car, and compete head to head with the Bentley Continental GT, Mercedes CL, Aston Martin Rapide and even the Ferrari FF, could have been a high-risk strategy.

So far the signs are good. As well as attracting the Ferrari-owning fraternity to the Spirit of Ecstasy, the Wraith looks like it will also succeed in lowering the average age of Rolls-Royce’s client base.

In terms of styling, the convertible Wraith will take design cues from the larger Phantom Drophead but will retain the sporting characteristics of the existing hardtop — therefore it will boast a 6.6-liter V12 engine that should catapult the car from standstill to 100 km/h (62mph) in a little under 5 seconds but with a suspension and damping system that will eliminate all bumps and body roll.

Also adding to this sense of well-being is the ingenious satellite-aided transmission (SAT) feature which uses GPS data to understand the road conditions ahead, beyond the driver’s vision, so that it can automatically select the correct gear and alter the suspension settings.

Bugatti Veyron Meo Costantini

The Bugatti Veyron Legend Meo Costantini is the third model in the company’s six-part “Les Légendes de Bugatti” series of specially modified Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse cars, dedicated to and inspired by the drivers that helped to establish the company as a top sportscar builder.

Bugatti Veyron Vitesse Meo Costantini

A close friend of founder Ettore Bugatti and double Targa Florio champion, Meo Costantini’s legendary status was achieved in the 1920s behind the wheel of a Type 35 Bugatti.

As such, the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse that bears his name features several exterior styling cues designed to evoke memories of the Type 35.

Bugatti Veyron Legend Meo Constantini interior

Its wings, doors and the corners of the front bumpers are rendered in hand-polished aluminum, and the remaining body panels sport a specially developed shade of “Bugatti dark Blue Sport” created to reference the classic blue sported not just by Bugatti, but by all French racing cars of the period.

Other unique touches include a silhouette of the Targa Florio race track — where Costantini made his name — on the underside of the car’s airbrake, which is only visible when the car rapidly decelerates. Costantini’s signature has also been laser-etched into the petrol and oil cap covers.

Bugatti Meo Constantini

Inside, the entire cabin is finished in a cognac-tone brown leather with blue leather accents on the instrument panel, steering wheel and arm rests. Costantini’s signature also adorns the seat headrests while the door panels feature vintage racing scenes and car motifs, laser engraved into the leather trim.

Propelling the Meo Costantini is the W16, 8-liter twin-turbocharged engine, capable of delivering an incredible 1200hp, a 0-62mph (0-100km/h) time of 2.6 seconds and a top speed, with the roof down of 253mph (408.84km/h) making it the fastest production roadster ever built.

Bugatti Veyron Vitesse Meo Costantini interior

Bugatti launched the Legends series in August with the Vitesse Jean-Pierre Wimille at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California, and swiftly followed it with the “Jean Bugatti,” which made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

Bugatti says pricing is set at just north of $2.8 million, and as is the case with each iteration of Veyron Bugatti Legends, only three examples of the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse Meo Costantini will be built.

Bugatti Veyron Legend Meo Constantini

Lexus RC Coupe

Lexus debuts new sports coupe

Lexus RC Coupe

The luxury Japanese car company hopes that the RC coupe will broaden the brand’s appeal when it makes its first official public appearance at the upcoming Tokyo motor show.

Described as a “concept-to-reality” coupe — meaning that with a few tweaks and changes a production version will be hitting the road in the not too distant future — the RC is a concerted attempt by Toyota’s luxury division to boost its desirability among existing customers and those new to Lexus.

The company is yet to publish any performance statistics, but has confirmed that it will be officially unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show on November 20 with two engine choices, a 3.5-liter V6 and a 2.5-liter hybrid powerplant, both of which will highlight the car’s “fun-to-drive” character.

For now, Lexus wants us to focus on its appearance and it is certainly striking, thanks to prodigious use of sharp, angular intersecting lines, however, the huge front grille is bound to polarize opinion.

What is certain though is that it will have a level of build quality and reliability to match anything currently being manufactured in Germany.

This reputation for quality has helped Lexus to become a serious competitor to BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Cadillac in the luxury car market. However, until now, its sportier offerings — with the notable exception of its LFA supercar — have left a lot to be desired.

Despite an eventual price tag of $445,000 the LFA was so technologically advanced it required 10 years of research and development time, meaning that the company actually made a loss on each of the 500 examples it offered for sale.

If The RC Coupe offers just a smidgen of the performance, handling and thrills of the LFA, then most drivers will be able to look past that huge grille.

Porsche Panamera Turbo S Executive

New Porsche Panamera Turbo S unveiled

Porsche Panamera Turbo S Executive

The German manufacturer is expanding its Panamera line with a new version of the Turbo S grand touring sedan, which now has an additional 20hp under the hood for a total power of 570hp.

Powered by a 4.8L V8 biturbo engine, the new Porsche Panamera Turbo S accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds and can reach top speeds of around 310km/h. Porsche announces the car’s fuel consumption at 10.2L/100km, which is equivalent to CO2 emissions of 239g/km.

Among the standard features on the new Turbo S, Porsche provides a number of its latest driving aids and technologies, such as Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) and Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB). On the inside, drivers and passengers can stay cool thanks to ventilated seats and ride in style on two-tone leather upholstery.

In addition to the standard version of the new Porsche Panamera Turbo S, an Executive edition will also be available, with a wheelbase expanded by 15cm for enhanced comfort. The two new models will be available from early 2014 at $180,300 and $200,500 respectively in the US.

The Panamera line also includes Porsche’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle, the Panamera S E-Hybrid, which arrived at dealers over the summer of 2013.

This more eco-friendly Panamera consumes just 3.1L/100km over the European driving cycle, resulting in CO2 emissions of 71g/km. The model is available from $99,000 in the US, or €112,309 in Europe.

BMW unveils the 2-Series Coupe

BMW 2 Series coupe

BMW has released pictures, specifications and pricing of its latest compact sportscar ahead of its official global debut at the Detroit Motor Show in January.

Continuing its new nomenclature whereby coupes take even numbers and four- or five-door cars odd numbers, the BMW 2 Series is essentially a curvy, angular, two-door version of the 1 Series, but one with impeccable road-holding and a massive amount of performance despite its diminutive proportions

The M235i, which will make its global debut at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January, is a massive attempt by the German manufacturer to crack the US ‘sub-compact’ market in the way that it already has the premium executive sedan sector.

So should potential US customers get excited? The simple answer is that if they love driving and want something that’s as exhilarating on a track as it is easy to drive along a chronically congested highway and that offers bulletproof reliability and build quality, yes.

There are currently a number of great-driving, inexpensive two-door coupes on the market, not least the incredibly entertaining Toyota GT 86. But with its 50:50 perfect weight distribution and twin-turbo in-line six cylinder engine (322 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque), good for a 0-60mph (100km/h) time of 4.8 seconds, the BMW raises the bar.

At $44,000 it is on the expensive side, but as well as the ferocious engine, prospective owners will get a specially tweaked suspension set-up, serious brakes and a host of electronic gadgetry — including dynamic traction control, cornering and dynamic brake control — to keep the car pointing straight and true even as grip levels reach their limits.

Serious drivers can also go crazy with the options catalogue and choose adaptive suspension, electronically controlled shock absorbers and even specify a 10-20mm lower ride height.

BMW also offers a slightly more diluted and civilized 228i coupe with a four-cylinder twin-turbocharged 240hp engine which is still good for a 0-100km/h time of 5.4 seconds. It will be priced at $33,000.

BMW 2 Series coupe interior

Maserati Quattroporte Ermenegildo Zegna

Maserati Quattroporte by Ermenegildo Zegna

Maserati Quattroporte Ermenegildo Zegna

The result of a close collaboration between Ermenegildo Zegna and the Italian performance car maker, Maserati’s Quattroporte concept is expected to go into strictly limited edition production in 2014.

Playing with contemporary and classical design as inspiration, the interior has all the hallmarks of an executive sedan but the details are achieved using softer hues, such as mocha and greige, and with softer, more textured leathers and other natural fabrics to create a more welcoming cabin.

Maserati Quattroporte Ermenegildo Zegna interior

Outside, the car’s contrasting, reflective color has been achieved by using ultra-fine aluminum pigments that catch and bend the light, set into a gloss black primer coat and then finished with a platinum-effect top coat.

Maserati Quattroporte Ermenegildo Zegna Limited Edition

The car will make its official debut at this month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, which opens its doors to the public on September 10 and where Maserati is expected to give more details in terms of potential cost and how many examples constitutes ‘strictly limited’.

Maserati Quattroporte by Ermenegildo Zegna

BMW i8 Teaser

BMW i8 to Officially Debut at Frankfurt

2014 BMW i8

At the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW will reveal the production model of its Spyder i8 hybrid car, previously presented as a prototype.

First introduced in 2011 to mark the launch of the premium BMW i line, the i8 stands out as a particularly sporty hybrid coupe. Its combination of turbodiesel and plug-in motors allows a total power of 354hp, for an announced top speed of 250km/h and 0 to 100km/h acceleration in 4.6 seconds.

The i8’s average fuel consumption is announced at 2.7L/100km. The other model in BMW’s i range, the i3, will also be on display on the manufacturer’s stand in Frankfurt. This all-electric car can travel up to 160km between charges, naturally without emitting a single gram of CO2.

2014 BMW i8 interior

Although final pricing details for the two models have yet to be announced, both are currently available for pre-order in certain European countries before their commercial launch on the continent, in late 2013 for the BMW i3 and early 2014 for the BMW i8.

Meanwhile, BMW fans in North America can register for a test drive of the i3, which will be marketed in certain US cities from the second quarter of 2014.

2014 Audi A8 Facelift Rear

Audi A8 2014 officially revealed

Audi A8 2014

A redesigned and revamped version of the Audi A8 is on its way to the Frankfurt Motor Show, the German manufacturer has announced. The luxury sedan has been equipped with a more efficient powertrain, as well as smart technology features for its driving aids and high-beam headlight controls. The new edition of Audi’s flagship car will hit the market in November 2013.

As part of its new look, the A8 has a redesigned rear bumper with two rectangular vents, chrome stripes and black tinted windows. The car’s dimensions remain unchanged, and its body is now made almost entirely of aluminum. The A8 will be available in eight colors, with wheels of all sizes up to 21″.

The LED headlights, now a standard feature, include high-beams with 25 diodes, each of which can be turned on, dimmed or turned off according to driving conditions. Audi’s advanced Matrix LED headlight control system, available as an option, even includes sensors that detect the presence of oncoming cars and dim the high-beams as they approach.

The Matrix technology can even communicate with the navigation system to retrieve predictive route data and adjust the angle and brightness of the headlights just in time.

The Audi A8 will be available with four motors: two fuel injection (ranging from 310 hp to 435 hp) and two diesel (from 258 hp to 385 hp). The manufacturer is touting enhanced performance all around, and the Audi A8 V8 4.0 TFSI now accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.5 seconds.

Alongside the boost in power, Audi has taken care to enhance efficiency as well. The Audi Cylinder On Demand (COD) system disengages half of the engine’s eight cylinders when they are not needed.

The most efficient motor in the new series is the V6 3.0 TDI Clean Diesel, which consumes 5.9 liters of fuel per 100 km, for CO2 emissions of 155 g/km.

Among the optional driving assistance features available on the A8 is a system that projects important information from the dashboard directly into the driver’s field of vision on the windshield. There is also adaptive cruise control and Audi’s “pre sense plus” system for detecting and avoiding hazards.

The new Audi A8, which will be presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show, will arrive in European dealerships this fall, with prices likely to start around €80,000.