- Small Luxury: Mercedes-AMG C43
- Large Luxury: Genesis G70 and G80
- Luxury Wagon: Audi RS 6 Avant
- Luxury Grand Tourer: Porsche Taycan Turbo S
- Exotic: Bentley Continental GT
While the runaway winners in the new-car sales charts tend to be crossovers, many consumers still turn to the luxury sedan market for a drive that blends athletic performance with a lavishly appointed cabin. Here, Driving.ca takes a look at five key categories of premium vehicles. We start with a city-friendly racer; and finish with something truly bespoke.
Small Luxury: Mercedes-AMG C43
Mercedes-AMG C 43 Photo by Graeme Fletcher
The latest Mercedes-AMG C 43 is new from the road up and it’s radically different. Of course, you know it’s fast, it devours corners, and it arrives with a plush cabin. The key difference is the new 2.0L turbo-four. It not only works with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, it has an oversized turbocharger that incorporates an electric motor — the design was derived from F1.
The result is 402 horsepower, 369 pound-feet of torque, and virtually no turbo lag. The speed of the boost delivery helps to explain the 4.6-second run to 100 kilometres an hour. The engine drives a nine-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic all-wheel-drive. Here, the system splits the power 31-69 front-rear, so it has a full-time rear-drive bias, which is a good thing from a dynamic perspective.
The handling is also dialed in thanks to the AMG Ride Control suspension with steel springs and adaptive dampers, along with a new four-wheel steering system that can turn the rear wheels up to 2.5 degrees. Point the AMG C 43 into a corner and it dives in with as much enthusiasm as the driver!
Inside, the sporty theme continues with bucket seats that hug without confining. Ahead of the driver is a reconfigurable 12.3-inch digital display, with a large 11.9-inch touchscreen anchoring the multimedia platform. All of this hints at what to expect when the mighty AMG C 63 arrives.
Large Luxury: Genesis G70 and G80
Genesis G80 Photo by Genesis
Genesis was an upstart in the beginning, but it has gone on to earn its stripes and is now a formidable force in the luxury car market. For those into sport sedans, the company has two strong candidates — the G70 and G80. The former is a nimble drive; the latter goes upscale. The biggest difference between the two, price aside, is the level of content the G80 offers over the G70 — things like a 14.5-inch infotainment screen verses a 10.25-incher, available 12.3-inch digital instrumentation, nicer Nappa leather, and so on. The G80 will also go electric shortly — the claimed 454-km driving range is good.
Regardless of which G-sedan you opt for take the turbo-V6 engine. The G80’s 3.5L has 375 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque, which is 10 hp and 15 lb-ft of torque more than the G70’s 3.3L V6, although the lighter G70, at five seconds to 100 km/h, is 0.5-seconds quicker than the G80. Both work with an eight-speed transmission to drive all four wheels. The all-wheel-drive system is a solid, rear-based system that can send up to 50 per cent of the power forward when needed, so it delivers the desired traction on a slippery road. The top trim in both sedans also earn an adaptive suspension. It delivers both comfort and agility. This and a steering setup that’s nicely weighted makes the G70 and G80 competent drives when the road takes a turn for the better.
Luxury Wagon: Audi RS 6 Avant
Audi RS6 Avant Photo by Audi
Twenty-eight years after launching the first RS model, the 2022 Audi RS 6 Avant, now in its fourth-generation, remains the epitome of fast utility. The “wagon” is family-friendly; it delivers the flexibility of a mid-sized crossover and it’s handsomely attired with a finely-crafted cabin that features the latest technology and driver aids demanded. It’s also one of the fastest hair-raising rides around — few cars can make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up quite like the RS 6. You see, it does the morning school run and racetrack hot lap equally well.
Believe it or not, in making the RS 6, Audi only picked up the front doors, roof and tailgate from the mortal Avant. Beneath the RS-specific sheet metal sits a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 that works with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system to make 591 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. This is enough to propel the riders to 100 km/h in 3.6 seconds. It works with an eight-speed automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel-drive.
Now, if you’re in the market, the RS 6’s Dynamic package ($2,950) and Dynamic Ride Control suspension ($1,500) should be considered musts. While the base RS 6 scorches through a corner, adding the more advanced suspension (steel springs and three-stage adjustable dampers that are linked diagonally), the real-time torque-vectoring sport quattro rear differential and dynamic front steering with rear-steer takes it to another level altogether — it really is a track-ready demon that easily out-hustles any hot-hatch.
Luxury Grand Tourer: Porsche Taycan Turbo S
Porsche Taycan Photo by Graeme Fletcher
While the Porsche Taycan is offered in nine models and two body styles — sedan and wagon (Sport/Cross Turismo) — the unit of choice has to be the Taycan Turbo S. The two electric motors combine to deliver 616 hp and 700 lb-ft of torque along with an all-wheel-drive ability. However, this really only scratches the surface. When Launch Control is activated the Turbo S goes into an overboost mode that pushes the output to 750 hp and 774 lb-ft of torque.
Mash the accelerator pedal and the Turbo S warps to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds. What this number does not convey is the real sensation of speed. When warp-drive is engaged the riders leave their stomachs at the start line because the response is so downright immediate and fast!
The juice needed by the electric motors comes from a 93.4 kilowatt/hour battery. Thanks to its 800-volt architecture, a nearly depleted battery accepts an 80 per cent charge in 22.5 minutes when using a 270-kW DC fast charger. According to NRCan the Taycan Turbo S has a range of 323-km, however, practical experience says it is closer to 375-km.
To keep things flat and unflustered, the Turbo S gets adaptive dampers, four-wheel-steering, rear axle torque vectoring and active roll-control. At the absolute limit, the flatness of the body’s attitude feels eerie. You expect some body roll but nothing surfaces, yet the ride quality is all that’s expected of a Grand Tourer.
Exotic: Bentley Continental GT
Bentley Continental GT V8 Photo by Bentley
In the bad old days, Bentleys were often viewed as the poor relation to Rolls-Royce, well, not any more. If you are what you drive, the Bentley Continental GT makes you the mover about town. This sophisticated two-door is offered in hardtop and convertible models. Regardless of the road you choose to drive, the cabin’s elegance and opulence is over the top. From the classic organ-stop-like air vent controls and seats upholstered in soft quilted leather to the premium wood veneers it’s first-class all the way. The Continental GT Mulliner is bespoke and showcases the level of choice and customization Bentley offer.
The luxurious cabin is only matched by the GT’s turn of speed, after all, Bentley made its name racing at Le Mans. It starts with the 542 hp, 4.0L twin-turbo V8 and moves up to the 650 hp, 6.0L W12 found in the Speed. In spite of motivating 2,273-kg of leather-lined luxury the W12 rockets the riders to 100 km/h in 3.6 seconds. Both engines work with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel-drive. The ride and handling is looked after by an adaptive suspension, active anti-roll bars and four-wheel steering. The combination makes the Continental a sure-footed drive regardless of whether it’s in boulevardier mode or showing a clean set of rear tires to a sports car!
Keyword: 5 Best luxury cars you can buy in 2022