Although the year didn’t fare well for luxury car players—the market will post its first-ever decline since Mercedes-Benz entered India in 1994—some excellent automobiles were launched in 2016. We take a look at the ones we took for a spin
Audi new A4
The highest selling Audi sedan, globally as well as in India, the A4 is a car that best reflects the two most important strengths of the company—sportiness and efficiency. Luxury is a given. The new A4, which we drove on the scenic Puri-Konark marine drive, is loaded with technology and is the best A4 ever made. (Launched in September for R38.1 lakh.)
With the GLC midsize luxury SUV which it launched in June, Mercedes-Benz filled the gap between the GLA and the GLE. We drove it in and around the beautiful hill station of Coorg in Karnataka. In September, the company rolled out the made-in-India GLC, at a starting price of R47.9 lakh.
(First launched in June for R50.7 lakh.)
It’s the poster boy of Japanese automotive engineering. The GT-R is an iconic super car that embodies the pinnacle of Nissan’s engineering prowess and driving performance. Nissan has shipped in 10 units to India and has received over 300 inquiries. Right now, it is available only at the dealership Neo Nissan in Noida, NCR. (Launched in December for R1.99 crore.)
It has a powerful stance, with seductive looks. It is a luxury saloon, with a sporty cabin. The Jaguar XE embodies the true sporting character of the acclaimed F-Type, but in a smaller package. Available only in petrol, the XE marked Jag’s entry into compact luxury segment. Buy it for the undiluted driving pleasure it offers.
(Launched in February for R39.9 lakh.)
The Mustang is not a car; it’s an experience. Those angry headlights, that sunken grille; those flanks, that bonnet; those large tyres, that sloping roof. It’s an experience that is long in hood, short in boot, and monstrous in performance. We drove it on the Buddh International Circuit, touching the top speed of 250kph.
(Launched in July for R65 lakh.)
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
This SUV, err Jeep, puts the sport in utility. The Grand Cherokee SRT (short for Street & Racing Technology) is a big SUV, very big. What differentiates it from every other SUV in the world is its stance—wide footprint and the sinister ‘blacked out’ front-end. Fiat brought it to India; we drove it on the Yamuna Expressway. (Launched in August for R1.12 crore.)
Audi R8 V10 Plus
It’s the fastest, most powerful production car Audi has ever built. It goes from 0-100kph in a blink-and-you-miss-it 3.2 seconds and has a top speed of 330kph (we touched 270kph when we drove it on the Hosur Aerodrome near Bangalore). All one has to do is find roads, or race tracks, to drive it.
(Launched in May for R2.55 crore.)
Bentley, the British ultra-luxury car-maker, drove in its first SUV, the Bentayga, to India. It’s also the world’s fastest SUV, with a 0-100kph time of 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 301kph. Surprisingly, Bentley claimed on the launch day that it had received confirmed bookings in “three digits”. (Launched in April for R3.85 crore.)
The Dawn is the super-luxury convertible from the British car-maker Rolls-Royce. It is the fourth Rolls-Royce model to be introduced in India, after the Phantom, Ghost and Wraith. It is powered by a 6.6-litre petrol engine that takes the car from 0-100kph in 5 seconds, before hitting a top speed of 250kph. (Launched in June for R6.25 crore.)
BMW new 3 Series
She doesn’t have a swoopy silhouette or sharp chiselled lines or a sloping roof … features which define the design language of the new crop of luxury cars. But in her ordinariness, she is stunning. The new 3 Series impressed us as a luxury car that you would love to drive, not just get driven in.
(Launched in January for R36.9 lakh.)
BMW MINI Convertible
The BMW MINI Convertible, which we drove in Goa, impressed us with its sleek design, go-kart handling and smart technology. Its soft top can be opened and closed in 20 seconds. It’s quick on the road, too, with a 0-100kpl acceleration time of 7.1 seconds and a top speed of 233kph. (Launched in March for R34.9 lakh.)
Volvo S60 Cross Country
A sedan that acts like an SUV, it has an imposing presence that echoes its capable nature. While driving it on Delhi roads, we also experienced that unlike some of its competitors—Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4—the S60 Cross Country doesn’t scrape that tall speed-breaker round the corner.
(Launched in March for R38.9 lakh.)
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No, the GLS550 is not available in India; we drove it in the US. The reason we’re featuring it here is the GLS550 impressed us with technologies that luxury cars must be equipped with, but which might take years to enter India—such as Distance Pilot DISTRONIC, Crosswind Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, etc.
Audi new Q7
It was launched in December 2015, but we drove it in January this year. While it’s sleeker, sportier and lighter than the previous generation model, the new Q7 didn’t really impress us. One of the reasons was that, at the price, we found Volvo’s exceptional XC90 a better buy.
(Launched in Dec 2015 for R72 lakh.)
BMW new X1
The car which established the luxury compact SUV segment in India returned this year in a stately avatar. It now looks a well-proportioned SUV, rather than a puny, extended hatchback.
(Launched in February for R29.9 lakh.)