100 hot new cars - part 2 - Executive and luxury cars

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  • All the star cars coming in 2011-12
  • Exec cars to MPVs in part 2
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Audi A6
What is it? A replacement for Audi’s ageing executive car
Estimated price from £27,500
On sale Spring 2011

The avalanche of new models from Audi is set to continue in 2011 with the launch of a new A6. Clues to the look of this BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class rival can be seen in the recently unveiled A7 Sportback, which is built on the same platform. However, the A6 will have a higher roofline than its sister car and more subtle styling.

The A6’s interior – always an Audi strong point – also borrows from the four-seat A7 Sportback, although the A6 will be able to take five occupants.

The new A6 needs to be significantly better to drive than its predecessor if it’s to match the class leaders. Fortunately, the signs are encouraging because the closely related A7 is one of the most comfortable Audis for a long time – at least on the optional air suspension.

A6 buyers will also have plenty of engines to choose from, with the line-up ranging from 2.0-litre petrol and turbodiesel units to a supercharged 3.0-litre petrol.

Meanwhile, gearbox options will include a seven-speed semi-automatic, badged
S tronic, and an eight-speed automatic.

The new A6 will be officially unveiled at next year’s Detroit motor show. Initially, it will be available as a saloon only, but an Avant estate version (see computer-generated image) will follow six months later.

Infiniti M35h
What is it? Hybrid version of Infiniti’s new BMW 5 Series rival
Estimated price from £44,000
On sale Spring 2011

When this car goes on sale , Infiniti will be the first manufacturer offering petrol, diesel and hybrid variants in the executive saloon sector.

The M is already available with a 3.7-litre V6 petrol and a 3.0-litre diesel, but the forthcoming M35h combines a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine developing 303bhp with a 67bhp electric motor, and emits less than 200g/km of CO2.

Infiniti reckons you can drive it for about a mile-and-a-quarter at speeds of up to 50mph using only the electric motor. What’s more, the M35h comes loaded with luxury and safety equipment.

Mercedes-Benz CLS
What is it? Second-generation four-door coupé
Estimated price from £46,500
On sale March 2011

The original CLS started the four-door coupé trend, but it was essentially just a frumpy E-Class in glad rags. The new car, by contrast, has been engineered to drive as well as it looks. Sleek styling and frameless side windows mean that it’s still immediately recognisable as a CLS, but every panel is new, and the body is now stiffer and lighter.

At launch, buyers will be offered 3.5-litre V6 and 4.7-litre V8 petrol engines, and a 3.0-litre V6 diesel, while a 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel will join the line-up later.

There are also three suspension set-ups to choose from: air suspension, steel springs and adaptive dampers, and a Sport option that uses firmer steel springs and dampers. So far, we’ve tried the air and adaptive systems, and it’s clear that the former is the comfort-oriented option, while the latter makes the CLS feel more agile and engaging.

Mercedes-Benz CL/S-Class
What is it? New engines for the coupé/limo
Price from £89,425/£60,380
On sale Jan 2011

Mercedes has just updated its luxurious CL coupé, tweaking the front grille, lights, wheels and door mirrors, and fitting the latest collision-avoidance and drowsy-driver detection systems from the S-Class saloon.

The CL and S-Class now come with a revised version of Mercedes’ seven-speed auto gearbox, while some engines have better performance and lower CO2 emissions. There are new 4.7-litre twin-turbo V8 and 5.5-litre V8 petrol engines, and the V12 in the CL65 AMG has been updated.

Audi A7 Sportback
What is it? Exec-sized five-door that’s more hatchback than coupé
Price from £43,775
On sale January 2011

Audi's quest to fill every niche continues with the A7 Sportback – a big hatchback that is to next year’s A6 what the A5 Sportback is to the A4.

The A7 can look a little dumpy in pictures, but on the road it’s striking and hides its size well. Drivers enjoy an all-new cabin design with the sort of beautiful detailing that Audi has become famous for, and space is good – only very tall people will complain about rear headroom.

The A7 will be more expensive than the A6, but it’s very well equipped, with every model getting leather upholstery, satellite-navigation, heated electric seats and a digital radio. Audi’s excellent Multi Media Interface controls most of the car’s functions, and there will be a host of high-tech options, including a 15-speaker Bang and Olufsen stereo and a GPRS module that downloads news and weather from Google.

In brief…
Saab 9-5 Estate
The second Saab to be launched since GM sold the company to Spyker will be an estate version of the first: the 9-5 executive saloon. Saab plans to upgrade the instrument panel and materials before the estate model goes on sale in summer 2011.


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