Cool luxury cars have some of the hottest premium features on the planet, from advanced all-electric powertrains to mobile Wi-Fi capability to bespoke cabin themes in the most opulent of materials. Frankly, it’s an embarrassment of riches, as long as you’re rich enough to afford them. If you’re like the other 99 percent of the population, however, here’s some of what you’re missing, as a sort of a potential shopping list for lottery winners.
With the 2016 Cadillac CT6, GM’s luxury brand has created a whole new segment: the “prestige Sedan.” For customers, that means a more-than-fullsize ultra-lux entry that takes the brand’s sharped-edge design language to new lengths—204 inches, to be exact—and showcases sports-car-style proportions for a distinctive silhouette. Also plenty distinctive is the car’s “Indirect Fire” LED lighting system, which creates a striking slash of style at the front end, while also providing the efficient, effective illumination that driver’s expect from LED technology. Cool luxury cars are often cool under the skin, too, and such is the case with the big new Cadillac. Thus, the body structure of the CT6 relies on 11 different materials, including significant amounts of aluminum, for a stiff, lightweight foundation. Needless to say, the materials inside the cabin are impressive as well, with a variety of woods and leathers, and carbon fiber, on display.
Tesla Model S
It’s now about three years since Tesla’s first all-electric luxury sedans hit the road, but there’s still nothing quite like the 2016 Tesla Model S. Indeed, even at a time when most cool luxury cars carry highly sophisticated powertrains, the Model S is in the vanguard with an electric propulsion system that, in its highest-performance configuration, can leverage an aptly named “Ludicrous” mode for 532 horsepower, 713 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 0-60 time of 2.8 seconds. That means the Model S is quicker than a McLaren 650S supercar, yet it also serves up an EPA-certified EV driving range of 253 miles, even in the performance-oriented, all-wheel-drive P85D. And for Tesla drivers who do prefer a more relaxing road trip, the company’s Autopilot feature provides practically autonomous operation, thanks to technology like “traffic aware” cruise control and digital control over the braking, steering, acceleration and parking.
Audi RS 7 Performance
The four-rings brand makes its fair share of cool luxury cars, and you’ll soon be able to count the refreshed RS 7 “Performance” edition among them. Representing a further evolution for the 2016 Audi A7 four-door Coupe—and another example of Audi’s insistence on irregular capitalization procedures—the RS 7 Performance will share all the key upgrades of the refreshed 2016 A7, but then add a 45-horsepower boost in output over the “regular” RS 7. Which, in turn, serves up 227 more horses than a standard A7. Anyways, the new bottom line for the new range-topper of the family is 605 horsepower, and although Audi didn’t release a 0-60 time for the car, it will no doubt be below the 3.7 seconds of the current RS 7. As for the mid-cycle refreshments, highlights include restyled front and rear bumpers, redesigned LED headlights and taillights, and a revised grille.
Many people believe that, some time in the not-so-distant future, self-driving vehicles will allow their owners to take it easy on the road—or stay busy with work—without having to worry about the actual piloting process. Of course, cool luxury cars like the 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 already furnish that kind of experience, albeit with a notably old-school solution. Namely, a standard chauffeur package that enables Maybach owners to literally put their feet up and relax while someone else takes the wheel: The front passenger seat, already uniquely positioned for extra rear-seat legroom, can be folded further forward and deploy a dedicated heel rest for the back-seat passenger on that side. For even higher levels of relaxation, the Maybach S600 comes with two standard, silver-plated champagne glasses by Robbe & Berking, providers of silverware to “well over half of the 200 largest yachts in the world” (according to Mercedes).
BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe
You can consider this limited edition of the 2016 BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe the crème de la Bavarian crème of cool luxury cars, since it doesn’t just honor 50 years of exclusive Alpina automobiles, it’s also the fastest car now available at BMW dealerships. The car itself—the BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe—is the latest fruit of a long partnership between the two independent companies, and it brings together the best of both worlds, starting with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that can force out 600 horsepower and 590 lb.-ft. of torque. With that powerplant mated to an Alpina-tuned eight-speed automatic, and output routed through BMW’s xDrive AWD setup, drivers can rocket from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds and reach an electronically limited terminal velocity of 200 mph. The Alpina mods also supply peak premium style, complete with the brand’s leather-wrapped steering wheel and aero kit.
Lexus GS F
The 2016 Lexus GS F is additional evidence of how Toyota’s luxury brand continues to get serious about driver engagement. After all, the car marries a rev-happy V8 engine with rear-wheel steering to create a ’Ring-ready sport sedan. The specifics include a re-tuned 5.0-liter V8 that makes 467 horsepower and 389 lb.-ft. of torque, but what really distinguishes the driving experience from that of other cool luxury cars is that that powerplant doesn’t reach its redline until 7,300 rpm. The Lexus team’s performance division, acknowledged by the “F” nomenclature, also pitched in with an available torque-vectoring differential that can adjust torque distribution between the rear wheels in as little as 1/1000th of a second. The result were proven on tracks like Germany’s famed Nürburgring, where the GS F VDIM (vehicle dynamic integrated management) technology was finely honed to meet the most demanding enthusiasts.
Bentley Flying Spur
It’s the fastest, most powerful sedan ever sold by the company, but that’s not why the Bentley Flying Spur stands out from other cool luxury cars. Instead, it’s because the Flying Spur reaches new heights in terms of conspicuous consumption, courtesy of an artisan-crafted cabin that requires more than 10 square yards of sustainably sourced, hand-lacquered wood. Which has been cured for three full days before being used. Likewise, when it comes to leathers, the Flying Spur sports exclusive hides that are offered in 12 different colors. Nor is it all about old-school luxury in the Flying Spur: The imposingly sized sedan can supply its own mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, Naim for Bentley premium audio, and a touchscreen-based rear-seat infotainment interface. On the other hand, the Flying Spur’s 616-horsepower W12 engine does get the up to a top speed of 200 mph, with a 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds on the way.
The Acura RLX is an odd type of throwback, though it’s really a case of the brand moving forward by looking to its past—when it was known for its engineering expertise and innovation. For today’s RLX drivers, that inspiration is reborn in features like a high-tech, three-motor hybrid propulsion system. Not only does that setup produce 377 horsepower and 341 lb.-ft. of torque, for surging acceleration, it also returns EPA grades of up to 32 mpg highway, for a surprising level of fuel efficiency. Furthermore, that same drivetrain enables a significant upgrade to Acura’s hallmark Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD); in the new RLX, the rear wheels are driven by their own dedicated electric motors and enjoy sophisticated torque-distribution capabilities. The Acura Watch safety bundle and Jewel Eye LED headlamps, which would be the envy of any cool luxury cars, are standard as well.
After a bit of a fall, the big-cat brand seems to have landed on its feet with a growing next-gen lineup that now includes cool luxury cars like the latest Jaguar XF sedan. In fact, Jaguar’s full-size premium sport sedan is all-new for the 2016 selling season, right down to an aluminum-intensive body structure that saves 132 lbs. in the rear-wheel-drive model and 265 lbs. in all-wheel-drive examples. So the XF may be large, but it’s light on its feet, especially when it’s fitted with its 380-horsepower supercharged engine. Backed by that 3.0-liter unit and its 332 lb.-ft. of torque, the XF accelerates from 0-60 in 5.1 seconds. Jaguar also leveraged the launch of the new XF to introduce a new InControl Touch Pro infotainment system and nifty innovations like a “dead-reckoning” nav function that can pinpoint the vehicle’s position even if the GPS signal is lost.
Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by Music
Elvis Presley may have been the first to put rock and roll into the Rolls-Royce brand, buying a Phantom V back in 1961 and no doubt setting the stage for early adopters like John Lennon and Keith Moon. But for 2015, the automaker has gotten in on the action for itself, recently dropping the Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by Music. It’s the third in a so-called “trilogy” of inspired Wraiths—previous editions were dedicated to Film and Fashion—and the newest one certainly delivers on its promise as the world’s “most exclusive music venue.” At the heart of the matter, naturally, is a Rolls-Royce Bespoke audio system designed from the ground up specifically for the company, with 1,300 watts of power and an array of speakers that includes two bass units, seven tweeters, seven mid-range speakers and two “exciter” speakers that have been hand-positioned at the listeners’ ear level for optimum sound quality.