Star Cars 2009: Executive and luxury - Luxury cars

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  • New Mercedes E-Class
  • Porsche Panamera
  • Jaguar XJ
Porsche Panamera
Price from £50,000 (est)
On sale Summer
What’s great? Radical new design, familiar standards

The Panamera will be Porsche’s first production four-door coupe. However, as its familiar styling suggests, the company’s core values remain at its heart.

Engines are expected to include an all-new Volkswagen 3.5-litre V6 with around 300bhp, a non-turbocharged version of Porsche’s 4.5 V8 with 350bhp and a turbo version with around 560bhp – enough to do 0-62mph in under 5.0sec.

In the future, a reworked version of the Carrera GT’s 612bhp 5.7-litre V10 engine may appear if production issues can be overcome, along with a hybrid which combines petrol power with a battery-powered motor.

Superfast gearchanges will be possible using either a double-clutch manual unit or via steering wheel-mounted selectors. However, early reports suggest Porsche will persist with the controversial back-to-front button shifters, as seen on the latest PDK 911, rather than the more traditional paddles.

Even entry-level models should rival the Mercedes CL63 AMG, Maserati Quattroporte and Aston Martin Rapide in performance as well as price, while top-end models will provide at least a distraction for anyone rich enough to be eyeing a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti.

The Panamera’s interior is expected to follow the traditional Porsche route of top-end fixtures and fittings with wraparound seats and a clutter-free dash, plus an abundance of leather and polished metal.

There’s plenty of practicality, too, with an imposing centre console keeping the majority of the switchgear within easy reach of front-seat occupants.

Jaguar XJ
Price from £48,000 (est)
On sale Early 2010

What’s great? A super-stylish luxury car to take on the world’s best

We’re very excited about the new XJ. It uses many underpinnings from the existing model, which is certainly no bad thing, but it’s tipped to take a fresh and radical approach with its styling.

Judging by the excellent job that Jaguar design director Ian Callum did with the XF, the XJ should be stunning.

The XF shows how much drama Jaguar can bring to the cabin, with features such as rotating air vents and a gear selector that rises out of the centre console. We fully expect an even greater sense of occasion in the XJ.

Engines are likely to include everything from high-power diesels to supercharged V8s with 500bhp or more.

We’re cheating a little by including he XJ here, because it’s almost certainly only going to make it to the market early in 2010.

Mercedes S-Class
Price from £57,000 (est)
On sale Summer
What’s great? Top luxury car is refreshed

Mercedes is giving its S-Class a mid-life overhaul, but given the car’s popularity, it’s no surprise to find that the designers have kept changes to a minimum.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference will be the updated headlamps with their striking LED running lights. Beyond that, the front and rear bumpers have been reshaped, along with the door mirrors.

Engine details haven’t been announced yet, but we expect the existing range to be slightly modified for improved performance, economy and emissions.

However, you will almost certainly have to wait until 2010 to see production cars with the first of the hybrid systems that Mercedes is now working on.

The first of these will most likely be the S400 BlueHybrid shown at the Paris Motor Show last autumn.

That has a total output of nearly 300bhp with its combination of petrol engine and battery-powered electric motor. This can achieve 0-62mph in 7.2sec and hit 155mph, but emits just 190g/km of CO2 while averaging 35.8mpg.

VW Phaeton
Price from £45,000 (est)
On sale January
What’s great? Sumptuous interior, limo space

Volkswagen’s luxury car has had a face-lift – and now it’s more luxurious than ever.

The engine line-up has been overhauled so all units meet Euro V emissions standards, while a new 274bhp 2.0-litre V6 petrol has been added, giving more power and lower emissions than the unit it replaces.

Mechanically, the car is almost unchanged, although the dampers have been softened to improve ride quality. A rear-view camera has also been added as standard.

VW has also addressed interior faults, such as the confusing switch layout, and switches will also now be backlit in white rather than red. The centre console has been redesigned with new sat-nav and touchscreen information and entertainment systems.

Exterior changes are minor and include new designs of alloy wheels and a wider choice of colours.

Rolls-Royce 4
Price from £170,000 (est)
On sale Late 2009
What’s great? Latest from an institution
It may be an entry-level Rolls-Royce, but it's still big in size, luxury and price.
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