Luxury & Fashion

Jan 31, 2016

Drive the luxury

Every year the auto market gets new luxury models. Some of the industry's great brands have always been the market's driveshaft, introducing models which became household names, respected all around the world. But some new competition is coming.

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It's a fact that Audi, BMW and Mercedes – the best-selling european luxury car makers – have set the standards in the automotive industry when it comes to luxury cars. You know that when you buy one of these brands models. They are a sure value, guaranteed to last for a long time with minimum problems, driving you and your family to any destination reachable by road. Even more recent models keep their appeal by becoming more sporty and performative. When japanese automakers decided to enter the luxury car race, a few decades ago, the first models were inspired by their european counterparts. Europe did set the trends. After legendary british carmakers Rolls-Royce or Bentley created the luxury car, the germans created its standards. Nonetheless, the japanese refined it along the years and the americans are now catching up with the competition. Though 2016 is not a year of change for european makers – traditional brands are keeping their line-up with minimal changes – it's time for the world to awe at Lexus, gasp at Cadillac's return to the big boys' club and bedazzle with the new Alfa Romeo beauty.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Starting with the new Giulia, from italian maker Alfa Romeo, our first look at the vehicle draws eyes to the fabulous curvy body. It's as if italian designers from "Centro Stile Alfa" – the design headquarters of the brand – have taken a gorgeous woman into their studio and diligently remade all of her forms into an incredibly good looking car, with the usual sporty aggressiveness of Alfa's "cuore sportivo". After the sport models 8C and 4C, this is, definitely, another piece of art.

The engines match the sportive pedigree displayed by the Giulia in its design. From the less powerful 2.0-liter, 276bhp, straight-6 engine which outperforms all cars in its segment, to the 2.9-liter, 505bhp, V6 marvel derived from Ferrari's 488GTB, the new Giulia is a spectacular machine to look at. But what about driving it?

Alfa claims Giulia's top-of-the-line model, the Quadrifoglio, can do a 3.8-second zero-to-100kph time, a 307kph top speed, and a Nordschleife lap time of 7:39, which makes it as quick around Nurburgring as Maranello's 430 Scuderia. Impressive? Yes, it is. Even for Alfa Romeo, placing Giulia as a BMW M3 contender.

The car's roof, hood, driveshaft, and front and rear aerodynamic parts are crafted from carbon fiber. Underneath the body, aluminum shock towers and subframes work together in helping to avoid mass accumulation. Even the Quadrifoglio's, fenders, Brembo monoblock brake calipers, and other suspension components are made of carbon fiber.

Cadillac CT6

Cadillac decided to make a real comeback in the luxury sedans market, after several years focused on SUVs and family vehicles, "Caddy" decided to go back to its roots and design a luxury sedan from scratch, aiming to fight BMW's and Mercedes' in their own grounds. Finally a Cadillac directed at Europe – unconstrained from the american bosses' views on what a luxury sedan should be like.

The CT6 design is in line with other Cadillac models: angular-shaped, clean design, wide open window-areas and chromed parts to remind everyone where the brand comes from.

A large sedan with a spacious interior can be filled with a lot of gadgets and electronics to impress any car traveler. In fact, the effort that was put into the CT6 conception includes a new platform – the Omega, which will be used in other future GM models -, Active Chassis System with rear steering and Magnetic Ride Control dampers. All this destined to make the ride much more comfortable and easy than the competition. As for electronic gadgets, the new CT6 comes with a wide range of security and comfort features, including Pedestrian Collision Mitigation, Night Vision, Rear Camera Mirror, Wireless Phone Charging, Touchscreen with Touchpad and Rear Seats Infotainment, apart from a quad-zone air conditioning system.

Cadillac CT6 is introducing changes for the brand in every aspect of car design and engineering, even with engines. For the first time on a luxury sedan the GM-owned brand will not equip any V8 engine. In fact, three engines will be available: 2.0-liter inline-four with 265bhp, twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 pumping 400bhp and a 3.6-liter naturally aspirated, direct-injected V6 capable of a 336bhp output. Models equipped with the V6 engines will come standard with a new, active all-wheel-drive system, which routes 40 percent of torque to the front in normal conditions, features a 50/50 winter mode, and boasts a sport setting that sends 70 percent of the engine's output rearward.

Lexus LC 500

From Japan comes one of the most amazingly-looking cars already announced for 2016. The new Lexus LC 500 is a luxury coupé like no other in the industry. It is luxury redefined on a performance car. A tribute to the great GT models which spawned from mother-company Toyota over the years, and the corollary of all the technology introduced with the exclusive limited-edition Lexus LFA.

The LC 500 is the first Lexus to use the brand's all-new, premium rear-wheel-drive luxury platform that does not share with any current Lexus models and is part of the new corporate global architecture for luxury vehicles. The underpinnings of this new coupe will become the blueprint for the company's future front-engine/rear-wheel-drive vehicles. In an effort to sharpen the car's handling, the LC 500's engineers focused on the platform's fundamentals by placing most of the mass, including the engine and the occupants, in a more centralized position and lower in the chassis to improve the center of gravity.

The power delivery to the rear wheels for LC 500 is handled by a new, very well matched set of components that maximize output to the wheels. The heart of the new LC 500 is derived from the proven, high-revving 5.0-liter V8 that is found in the RC F and GS F. The naturally aspirated V8 was selected for its smooth, linear throttle response and emotional engine sound. The all-aluminum, 32-valve V8's output targets 467 HP and 389 lb.-ft. of torque. The new engine is built for durability with lightweight, high-strength forged connecting rods and titanium valves that allow the engine to flourish at high rpm.

This flagship coupé will debut the 2017 Lexus Multimedia package that will feature updated, faster, and more flexible software enabling future enhancements and a graphic user interface. Occupants will also be treated to an exceptional audio experience inside the cabin: in addition to the available audiophile-worthy Mark Levinson audio package, a new premium Pioneer audio system comes as standard equipment. Pioneer's sound engineers worked in collaboration with LC 500 body and cabin designers to enhance interior sound performance within the cabin, studying the acoustic environment and driving structural changes to enhance sound performance.

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