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Best In Class
Nate Chapnick | Photo: Courtesy of the brands | March 28, 2014
Discover this year’s hottest rides.
2015 BMW i8
Revolutionary in its design, the 2015 BMW i8 looks like nothing else on the road. Otherworldly aesthetic details include doors that open up and out like wings, striking LED headlamps and a fully digital instrument display. The $135,700 2+2 plug-in hybrid is powered by both an advanced three-cylinder gas engine and a 96 kW electric motor, which, combined, create 362 horsepower—good for a 0-to-60 mph dash of 4.4 seconds—and an impressive 94 mpg. Arriving in showrooms this summer, the 3,285-pound i8 is all-wheel drive, which makes for superb traction all year long.
Four-Passenger Sports Coupe
2015 Lexus RC 350
Lexus has always listened carefully to its customer base, and the most recent result of that attention is its return to the four-passenger sports coupe segment with the daringly designed 2015 RC 350. The 314 horsepower rear-wheel drive coupe features an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel to help drivers keep control at all times. Expect the RC 350, estimated to cost $48,000 when it debuts this fall, to hit 60 mph from a standstill in less than 5.0 seconds. Inside, the RC 350 shows off Lexus’ new Remote Touch Interface, which functions much like a computer mouse to control various vehicle settings.
2015 Cadillac Escalade
Bigger and bolder than ever, the Cadillac Escalade is new inside and out for 2015. From afar, the Escalade most notably sports striking new LED headlamps, while, inside, the SUV showcases Cadillac’s slick CUE infotainment system, which implements an 8-inch capacitive touch display to control everything from the navigation to audio systems. Alongside all of this new technology, the interior boasts premium materials, including real wood and leather accents. And, thanks to its now-standard Magnetic Ride Control, the Escalade’s handling is more precise than ever. Look for the 2015 Escalade, at dealers in May.
2014 Infiniti Q50 Hybrid
Infiniti’s 2014 Q50 Hybrid delivers the best of both worlds: fuel economy and performance. The $44,300 Q50 pairs a powerful 3.5-liter V6 with a 50 kW electric motor, generating a combined 360 horsepower to propel the sedan from 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, while still achieving 36 mpg. And the Q50 comes packed with high-tech features, including Active Lane Control, which keeps the car in its lane using a camera mounted behind the rearview mirror to communicate with drive-by-wire steering. Paired with Intelligent Cruise Control, the Q50 even maintains a preset distance between itself and the vehicle in front of it. Inside, it offers not one but two touch screens, while Active Noise Control keeps the cabin quiet by employing the same technology found in noise-canceling headphones.
Two-Seat Sports Coupe
2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe
Sculpted by renowned designer Ian Callum, Jaguar’s latest addition to its pedigreed lineup pushes the performance envelope with a nod to the manufacturer’s famed 1961 E-Type. This 3,500-pound all-aluminum beauty boasts such edgy touches as retractable door handles that extend to greet drivers when they approach the vehicle. Inside, the tight interior is decidedly drivercentric, while its muscular steering wheel and sculpted seatbacks underscore this Jag’s sporting intentions. There is a wide selection of variants at the customers’ disposal, ranging from the $65,000 340-horsepower V6 to the $99,000 550-horsepower F-Type R, which screams from 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, with a top speed of 186 mph. The F-Type should arrive stateside soon enough for drivers to get behind the wheel for summer, as long as they are sure to order ahead at a Jaguar dealership.
2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe
One of the most visually striking Mercedes in recent memory, the 2015 S-Class Coupe is also a masterpiece of automotive engineering. Like its four-door sibling, the $116,000 all-wheel drive Coupe boasts a slew of groundbreaking technologies, including Magic Body Control—a sophisticated suspension system that uses cameras to scan the road for irregularities up to 50 feet ahead. While standard suspension systems are reactionary, Magic Body Control is proactive, adjusting the suspension to compensate for potential bumps before ever encountering them, and significantly improving handling. Another first for the S-Class Coupe is Active Curve Tilting, a technology used to lean the car into corners the way motorcyclists lean into bends, and reduce side-to-side movements. Prepare to be wowed when it hits showrooms this fall.
Compact Sports Sedan
2015 Audi S3
The 2015 Audi S3 high-performance sports sedan surprises on a number of levels. Slated to arrive in showrooms this summer, the $42,000 S3 has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that generates 300 horsepower, giving the S3 a 0 to 60 mph time of less than 5.0 seconds. A built-in Qualcomm 4G LTE chipset, meanwhile, makes the S3 the first vehicle in the country to offer high-speed wireless connectivity, providing highly detailed street-view navigation graphics and even Facebook and Twitter alerts. The S3 also sees the debut of Audi’s Phone Box, an innovative cell storage area in the center console that improves cell reception through an antenna built into the rear windshield. Measuring approximately 10 inches shorter than Audi’s S4, the S3 nevertheless packs nearly as much technology and driving thrills as its larger sibling.
High- Performance SUV
2014 Range Rover Sport Supercharged
This year’s must-have high-performance SUV is the completely redesigned 2014 Range Rover Sport Supercharged. Having shed some 813 pounds with its new aluminum exterior, this Range Rover feels like a totally different animal. Award-winning design chief Gerry McGovern gave the $79,995 Sport a more aggressive and athletic stance with its more rounded shape, while retaining signature Range Rover hallmarks, such as the clamshell hood and short overhangs. A 5.0-liter supercharged V8 is good for 510 horsepower and a 0 to 60 mph sprint that takes all of 5.0 seconds. And a new smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission makes for split-second shifts and greater fuel efficiency, achieving 19 mpg on the highway. For the family with boating or camping in mind, the Sport’s 7,716-pound towing capacity makes it an ideal selection. Inside, owners will find a high-tech bespoke cabin—made especially remarkable with the optional $6,300 Meridian Signature Audio Enhancement package that brings music to life on 23 speakers.
2015 Lincoln MKC
Fresh off the launch of Lincoln’s redesigned MKZ sedan, the American luxury automaker pulled the wraps off its first entry-level premium crossover, the 2015 MKC. The $33,995 MKC debuts this summer with an optional 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that generates 285 horsepower, making it as powerful as a V6—though it’s 15 percent more fuel efficient. The MKC casts a striking shadow with Lincoln’s signature split wing grille up front and a unique wraparound rear tailgate. Inside, drivers and passengers will appreciate both the Bridge of Weir Leather seats and the giant panoramic roof. More good news: For those who never quite mastered the art of parallel parking, the MKC’s new park assist makes it easy, pulling in and out of tight spaces without drivers having to so much as touch the wheel.
High- Performance Sports Sedan
2014 Aston Martin Rapide S
Startlingly fast and arrestingly gorgeous, the 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S is a four-door supercar nonpareil. A massive 5.9-liter V12 engine roars to life when drivers insert the crystal key fob into the slotted ignition. With 550 horsepower on tap, the $198,250 Rapide S feels like a force of nature, offering staggering acceleration, and launching from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 4.5 seconds. Inside, the Rapide S looks like a handmade concept car, with its striking full-length center console that stretches from the front to the rear seats. And built-in LCD screens in the seatbacks entertain rear passengers, allowing drivers to concentrate on the nuances of piloting this singular vehicle.