This week Autocar.co.uk is highlighting the new-for-2012 offerings from each manufacturer and assessing each car’s prospects in a market that is becoming increasingly hotly contested.
The fifth and final part of our feature highlights luxury cars, SUVs and crossovers. If you missed part one, which covered city cars and superminis, click here to read it.
Part two examined all the family cars and MPVs, and you can read that by clicking here.
The third instalment rounded up all the hot hatches, coupes and executive cars we’re looking forward to seeing. You can survey those launches by following this link.
Part four uncovered the supercars and performance cars that will be rolled out during the next 12 months. Click here to read it.
For the full 18-page run-down of new cars for 2012, don’t miss this week’s Autocar magazine, which is on sale now.
Audi A8 hybrid
Last August, Audi released details of the 44mpg and 148g/km Audi A8 hybrid, but the latest information suggests an early 2013 launch in the UK. The powertrain consists of a 201bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine mated to a 45bhp electric motor and lithium ion battery pack. Prices are yet to be confirmed, but the hybrid is likely to come in at around £65k.
Caddy has high hopes for the XTS to battle German luxury imports such as the Audi A6. It’s likely to make it to Europe at the end of the year, although UK sales have yet to be confirmed; the Cadillac XTS will be left-hand drive only. Based on a stretched Vauxhall Insignia platform, the XTS replaces two models in the US line-up: the DTS and STS.
If you want to own the kind of luxury saloon the Hollywood glitterati are choosing in increasing numbers, an adventurous choice might be the revolutionary Fisker Karma, a Mercedes CLS-sized four-door propelled by a pair of rear-mounted electric motors producing 403bhp between them. There’s a 260bhp turbo four in the nose driving a generator to feed an on-board battery bank, and then the rear wheels.
The Karma will do 95mph on electric power alone, but if you want it to really percolate, start the engine. Then the 0-60mph time improves by two seconds (to 5.9sec) and the car will hit 125mph flat out.
The really good news is that the Karma is imposing and luxurious in a Porsche Panamera kind of way. It really handles — Fisker proved that to us last year in Los Angeles — and it’ll be available in the early months of this year, just as soon as Fisker appoints an official UK distributor. Orders are numbered in dozens, Fisker says, even though there are no plans for right-hand-drive versions.
The next-generation Maserati Quattroporte takes a step upmarket to make space in the range for a smaller saloon aimed at top-end BMW 5-series models. Maserati says the Quattroporte will be based on a “new platform”, which might share some of its parts with the new Chrysler 300C. A higher-quality interior is a key part of the strategy. The V8 engines are understood to be carried over from the current Quattroporte, with V6 petrols and diesels reserved for the forthcoming smaller Maserati saloon. The reveal is slated for Paris, sales start in early 2013.
The buzz ahead of a new Mercedes-Benz S-class launch will start in late 2012, although a reveal at Detroit in 2013 is the latest intelligence. The world’s best-selling luxury car will add to its desirability with new levels of safety, powertrain, chassis and telematics technology, some of which wil be trailled next year. A variant of Merc’s new modular platform that already underpins the E and M-classes, the new S will remain dimensionally close to today’s model. The outerskin will be more dramatically styled and the interior is said to be a significant hike in quality. Suspension is new — front wishbones and a multi-link rear — with Magic Ride active control for the dampers. Engines will largely be carry-over, with the addition of two diesel hybrid S400 Bluetec models.