The North American International Auto Show kicked off this week, and with it has come several new and exciting luxury flagship cars from some of the leading global automakers.
Accordingly, in case you missed the individual stories, we decided to recap the momentous debuts in Detroit. In no particular order, here they are.
Mercedes’ 2017 E-Class might just look like “big C-Class.” What it lacks in exterior dynamics, however, it more than makes up for with loads and loads of technology.
The mid-size luxury sedan debuts Mercedes’ new DRIVE PILOT semi-autonomous driver assistance system that can accelerate, brake and steer itself up to 130 mph. Even if the lane markings are faded or nonexistent, it can still keep itself in the lane up to 81 mph. And, with a click of the turn signal, it will change lanes autonomously, too.
Perhaps even more impressive is the new ‘Remote Parking Pilot’ that allows you to exit your E-Class and command it with a smartphone app to park itself. That means you don’t have to worry about squeezing into a spot too tight to open your doors. It also debuts car-to-x communication — a system that will be essential to fully autonomous cars in the future — and also a new 12.3-inch hi-res display in the dash.
Performance fiends might not love the first E-Class that will go on sale for the 2017 model year, as it is only powered by a 241-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder. However, Mercedes promises it will be bringing more powerful versions at a later date. Until then, you’ll have to make due with perhaps the most technologically advanced car … ever.
Hyundai Genesis G90
The Hyundai Equus is dead. All hail Genesis G90! If you’re confused, so was I. After considering it a moment, it’s starting to make sense. Hyundai has split off its Genesis nameplate into its own luxury brand. This makes sense, as I presume buyers were having a hard time stomaching walking into a Hyundai dealer to drop $90,000 on a sedan parked next to a $15,000 Accent.
So what was once called the Hyundai Equus is now the Genesis G90, and the Hyundai Genesis is now the Genesis G80. Get it? Well, eventually you will.
Hyundai did more than rename the Equus. It fitted it with a new entry-level engine option: a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 that produces 365 horsepower. Above that, the Korean brand still offers its 420-horsepower 5.0-liter V8. Either engine can be mated to Hyunda’s — I mean Genesis’ — H-TRAC all-wheel drive system. That is, if you’re not happy with rear-wheel drive.
On the interior, the G90 includes a 12.3-inch infotainment display, a 7-inch TFT display in the center of the instrument cluster and a 360-degree digital surround view that will aid in tight parking maneuvers. It also offers a segment-first cabin CO2-level sensor and Air Quality System (AQS) that improves cabin air quality — an option likely aimed at Chinese buyers.
Granted, there’s not a lot to be excited about with the G90. But that’s sort of the point, I wager. Its a very well-crafted luxury sedan for someone who doesn’t want to be terribly showy — someone who’s more interested in personal comfort than making an exterior statement. And in that way, the G90 exceeds handily.
You love the old Lincoln Continental, right? I mean, who doesn’t? With suicide rear doors and a body longer than than the might Mississippi, the original Continental was full of character and flare.
So what about the all-new 2017 Continental? Well, that’s another story.
This one is more modern, as evidenced by its round-y body and E-touch door handles. It’s modern under the hood, too. Lincoln has fitted the new Conti with a 400-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 and an optional all-wheel drive system. All good things, of course.
On the inside, however, is where the Conti falls down — for me, at least. The Continental concept shown last year at the New York Auto Show had a wonderful dark blue interior with many retro-inspired designs, but with a modern flare. The production Conti is just business as usual for current Lincoln. Arguably, that’s not a bad thing. It’s not inspirational either, however.
When it comes down to it, Lincoln has essentially made a Lincoln Cadillac CT6. Likely, that’s exactly what it was going for. That, though, was not what I was hoping for.
The Infiniti Q60, if you’re curious, is the reshaped and renamed G37 coupe. Just like Hyundai, Infiniti had a bit of a reshuffle and renamed all its sedans Q, followed by a number that indicates its place in the lineup. As a Q60, the coupe is above the Q50 sedan. That’s because sedans are not as premium as coupes … for some reason.
Anyway, this Q60 has some new engine options in addition to new looks and a new name. Infiniti has an all-new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 that makes either 300 or 400 horsepower, depending how much you want to pay in the showroom. If you want less horsepower, however, you can have the 208-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
No matter the power output, you can mate it to a rear-biased all-wheel drive system. What that means, at least in theory, is that you get four-wheel traction, as well as the driving dynamics of a rear-wheel drive car. Win-win, we hope.
On the interior, occupants are cradled by Infiniti’s “spinal support” seats that not only sound like a Spinal Tap cover band but also cushion your vertebrae from the harshness of driving sportily. Speaking of sporty driving, Infiniti has fitted to the Q60 its Dynamic Digital Suspension that can be adjusted electronically with settings like “Sport” and “Sport+”.
So if you’re the kind of luxury coupe buyer who looks at the Lexus RC, BMW 4 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A5 and says, “nah,” then the Q60 is your perfect new whip.
Lexus LC 500
Last, but certainly not least, we come to the all-new LC 500 — Lexus’ new flagship coupe. The LC rides on Lexus’ all-new, rear-wheel drive premium platform that has been designed to keep components as close to the road as possible. This, along with the optional carbon-fiber roof, gives the car a very low center of gravity.
Additionally, Lexus spread the bits around the car — like the battery in the trunk, for example — to ensure a balanced weight distribution. Both of these together allow for excellent handling.
Behind the 3D mesh grille is Lexus’ 5.0-liter V8 that produces 467 horsepower. A new 10-speed automatic transmission, which Lexus claims is lighter than some 8-speed automatics, routes power to the rear wheels. All told, it’s good for 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
Now, if you’re wondering why the LC needs 10 forward gears, that’s because carmakers are keen to eke out fuel economy anyway they can. With 10 speeds, at 65 mph, the big V8 will likely be operating at around 1,000 rpm — quite near idle speed.
While I applaud Lexus for being daring in its designs, I worry the LC will feel about as numb to drive as your jaw after a root-canal. Modern sporty Lexii (plural for Lexus, I think) have looked and sounded the sporty. But when it came to actually driving sportily, they’ve been a let down. That said, if you’re interested in a car that looks more aggressive than it actually is, the LC should be on your list.