Luxe

‘It’ cars of 2018

Dhiram Shah | Updated on December 28, 2018 Published on December 28, 2018

Range Rover Velar: Walk towards the car with the key in your pocket and the handles automatically pop out

Mercedes Maybach: The S-Class has long been the last word on luxury saloons   -  DAIMLER AG

Porsche Cayenne: Now in its third generation, the 2018 Porsche Cayenne is lighter, sleeker and even smarter than its predecessor

Volvo XC40: The company made an SUV that was drop-dead gorgeous, loaded with tech features and fun to drive

The luxury car connoisseur had a good time this year and was spoilt for choice. A look at the cars that top our list

Every year I drive dozens of cars for my profession, but there are some which leave a lasting impression. These are the machines that I wish I had more time to spend with. From all the hot-rods, stylish coupes, mighty SUVs and luxury saloons these are my favourite cars of 2018:

Range Rover Velar (starts at ₹1.06 cr)

‘Beautiful’ is not a word you would normally associate with an SUV. But the Velar is an exception. As elegant as it is futuristic, this one comes with protruding door handles. Walk towards the car with the key in your pocket and the handles automatically pop out. The leather-wrapped interiors are as luxurious as they are comfortable. The Velar is the first car from the brand to make use of the ‘Touch Pro Duo’, a new infotainment system that uses two ultra-crisp 10-inch touchscreens to let you control the car’s functions. Unlike your typical Range Rovers, the Velar is very responsive and does not feel sluggish at low speeds. The air suspension along with the eight speed ZF automatic transmission offers a smooth ride. Add to this a superbly insulated cabin and you have a fun-to-drive family hauler that can go off-roading while the kids sleep inside. The Velar, along with the Evoque, has helped Range Rover break its mould of a company that makes serious off-roading machines and move into the German-controlled territory of stylish SUVs.

Mercedes Maybach (starts at ₹3.02 cr)

The S-Class has long been the last word when it comes to a luxury saloon. When a new S-Class is announced people take notice. When Mercedes decided to up its own ante, the Mercedes-Maybach-S650 was born. It’s a car that inches closer into Bentley or even Rolls Royce territory. Sit inside and you will be wowed by the comfort level that the Mercedes-Maybach can offer. You can stretch out, relax, or take a hot stone massage. Being a Maybach, this massage is synced with the cabin’s lights and music to give you a more immersive experience. All this happens while an atomiser fills the cabin with fragranced air. Providing you comfort when being driven on our roads is the Magic Eye Control — a system which scans the road ahead and then pre-adjusts the suspension for potholes and bumps for a smoother ride. You will find plenty of motivation to drive with the S650’s mighty 621hp V12 engine which races from 0 to a 100 kmph in just 4.5 seconds.

Porsche Cayenne (starts at ₹1.46 cr)

It shocked and upset many when the company announced plans to make an SUV in 2002. Fast forward to 2018 and the Cayenne was such a roaring success that it even made SUV-averse companies such as Lamborghini, Maserati, Bentley and Rolls Royce enter this segment. Now in its third generation, the 2018 Porsche Cayenne is lighter, sleeker and even smarter than its predecessor. So serious was Porsche in putting the Cayenne on a diet that along with an excessive use of aluminum it made use of a lithium-ion polymer battery that together shredded 65kg of the new Cayenne (10kg came from the battery alone). The improved handling from this is made even better with a state of the art air suspension and active anti-roll bars which magically cut down on body roll giving you the feeling of driving a Porsche 911 and not an SUV. The interiors received a major upgrade with a brand new 12.3-inch ultra-crisp touchscreen that works along with improved touch controls and voice commands. India gets three variants, which includes the E-Hybrid and range-topping Cayenne Turbo that comes with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo, V8 petrol engine generating 550hp and 770Nm of torque.

Volvo XC40 (starts at ₹50.51 lakh)

What a Rolls Royce is to luxury a Volvo is to safety. But Volvo decided to expand on that starting with the XC90. It made an SUV that was drop-dead gorgeous, loaded with tech features and fun to drive. It continued that with the XC60 and most recently with the XC40. With the little SUV aimed at a younger demographic, Volvo moved beyond its usual styling formula to give the XC40 two-tone exterior paint schemes along with offering bright and peppy colour options. Styled like its older siblings the interiors feel mature and are loaded to the teeth with tech and safety features. The seats, like with every Volvo, are designed by orthopaedic surgeons and are just fabulous. As comfortable as it is to drive, the XC40, contrary to its size, moves with the grace of a luxury sedan. India only gets the 2.0-litre D4 diesel engine that generates 190PS of power and 400Nm of peak torque.

Lexus ES300H (starts at ₹74.35 lakh)

The latest entrant into the Indian market, Lexus introduced the seventh generation of the ES300H shortly after its global debut at the Beijing international motor show. The car borrows styling cues from its older sibling and the LS500 which is the brand's flagship sedan. The signature oversized grille, Z-shaped DRLs and a sloping roof-line give it a refreshing look in the crowded mid-level luxury saloon space. A first in its segment, it is a hybrid and runs on a 2.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor. The highlight of the car is that it is not only the quietest in the segment but maybe even on our roads. Sitting in the back seat and when driven on electric mode the car just engulfs you into a cocoon of silence. This is because the ES’s body panels are secured by laser welding and industrial glue, while the engine is shielded by a 3 layer pad to keep out the vibrations and sounds. Apart from the silence, you will be wooed by the plush and spacious interiors which will pamper you with heated reclining seats, ambient lighting and a state of the art 1800W Mark Levinson sound system. Fun to drive and be driven in, the LS300H is the greenest car in its segment offering an unheard of 23.37km to the litre (claimed).

Dhiram Shah is the Mumbai based founder of Luxurylaunches.com

Published on December 28, 2018
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