Rolls-Royce Wants to Out-luxury All SUVs, so Bentley's Planning to Out-power Its Luxo Barge Rivals
The top end of the automotive market is home to surprising levels of competitiveness, even among brands traditionally seen as staid and reserved. Rolls-Royce fits this description, though the maker of opulent drawing rooms on wheels isn’t one to back down from a schoolyard scrap (as we saw earlier this year following some mild trash talk from Aston Martin-owned Lagonda).
Bentley, the rival-turned-family-member-turned-rival-again, has always positioned itself as the sportier alternative to Rolls-Royce, so it’s only natural that the lads in Crewe are planning a response to their competitor’s introduction of an ultra-lux SUV. Sure, the Cullinan pampers its occupants until they develop gout, but can it pull out their remaining hair follicles through sheer speed?
Lincoln's Cash Cow Grows Hungrier
As we told you earlier this month, the full-size Lincoln Navigator SUV plays a much larger role in the brand’s fortunes than in years past. The nameplate now accounts for over 18 percent of Lincoln’s sales. Over the first five months of 2018, sales of the square-rigged luxomobile rose 85.8 percent, partially offsetting the loss of passenger car sales and topping up Ford’s coffers with the model’s generous MSRP.
Sales aren’t the only thing on the rise when it comes to the Navigator.
Reporting for Flagship Duty: Audi Unveils Q8 'Four-door Luxury Coupe'
Audi finally revealed its latest entry in the increasingly popular luxury SUV segment: the Q8. Think of it as a more contemporary take on the Q7. The automaker calls it an expressive new design that serves as “the new face of the Q family.” While we’re all for German manufacturers occasionally drawing outside of the lines, we’re not positive it was a good idea in this case.
No shortage of hype preceded the debut, which tricked many into thinking the vehicle behind the curtain would reveal itself as irrefutably gorgeous. Instead, what we received is an interesting looking crossover that’s certain to be (at least somewhat) polarizing, heralded by dozens of teasers — including an internet-based video drama.
Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t bring myself to continue discussing the turd sandwich that was Audi’s promotional miniseries for the Q8. It was only ever going to progress into more and more hateful rants. However, I now fully recommend you watch the series in its entirety, as the ending was dumb enough to prompt a violent laughing fit.
Lagonda Vs Rolls-Royce Battle Continues, Now With Fewer Petty Insults
Egg spoons fell to the tabletop and kippers went uneaten as noblemen across the land gazed in slack-jawed silence at the new Cullinan [s]SUV[/s] high-bodied car unveiled by Rolls-Royce this morning.
It’s a vehicle so excessive in its dimensions and interior trappings, even long-deceased kings might find it gauche. Or, perhaps, just the right thing with which to ferry their corpulence from one sherry-stained dinner function to another. Polarizing, to say the least. One internet wag remarked that the Cullinan resembled a hearse with a backseat.
Regardless of how you feel about it, no one’s going to deny that Rolls-Royce now stands regally atop the luxury SUV hill, gazing down upon its lesser rivals with contempt. Clearly, the thought of the century-old British automaker pulling this off must have ground Lagonda’s gears, as the recently revived British luxury marque sought to get out in front of the introduction with an announcement of its own.
It seems the rivalry didn’t end after a testy spat earlier this year.
Rolls-Royce Cullinan: An SUV for 1 Percent of the 1 Percent
Those in the market for a brand new Roller are not apt to inquire about trivialities such as price or fuel economy. That’s why I highly doubt news of oil reaching its highest price in 3.5 years will give any Cullinan prospect a moment’s pause before they sign on the dotted line with a solid-gold Montblanc pen.
Rolls-Royce refuses to describe the Cullinan as an SUV. In every reference, it’s called an “all-terrain high-bodied car.” Company marketers were surely sequestered in a windowless conference room for ages before they settled on that term.
What the Hell Is Happening With Genesis' Dealer Network Strategy?
Ever since Hyundai launched Genesis as a separate luxury brand, there’s been plenty of confusion as to how to distribute its vehicles. The company initially said Genesis would have an entirely separate U.S. dealer network within three years. Then it said existing Hyundai retailers could continue to sell luxury models if they met a certain criteria, but noted many would become ineligible as standalone stores became the norm.
Now Genesis is saying all Hyundai dealers are in the running, but they’ll need to have separate facilities for the luxury brand if they want to sell them. While the change isn’t drastic, it’s the third time the brand’s parent company has revised its dealer strategy, leaving us confused as to what the automaker’s plan was all along.
Lexus Got What It Hoped for With the New LS - At Least for Now
Every large, traditional Toyota and Lexus sedan seems to have hit that point in its lifespan where drastic surgery is needed to keep up with the younger crowd. Were these staid sedans people, they’d be milling about in the seating area of a local plastic surgeon’s office.
The first model to bend to Toyota’s desire for large cars that ooze dignified luxury but are also kind of green (and maybe kind of sporty?) was the 2018 Lexus LS flagship, appearing last year with a new platform and racy sheetmetal. The Avalon and ES will soon follow suit.
By revamping its LS, Lexus hoped to jam the brakes on a sales plunge that began after the recession and only got worse from there. Still, the automaker knew it couldn’t turn back the clock completely. There was a very specific sales goal mentioned during the launch, and it looks like the new LS delivered. Almost perfectly, in fact.
2019 Lexus ES: The Most Conservative Car in the Lexus Barn Lets Its Hair Down, Dons F Sport Label
Long the preferred ride of the casual golf membership set, the Lexus ES enjoys a reputation of high reliability and very gradual change. Toss that cred out the window, as the 2019 ES undergoes what’s arguably the most significant revamp in its nearly three-decade-long history.
Revealed Wednesday in Beijing, the new ES rides atop a platform shared with its fellow Kentucky-built stablemate, the Toyota Avalon, and grows in all the time-honored ways. It’s longer, lower, and wider than the outgoing version. More power and more speeds come to the sedan’s sole powertrain, while the body undergoes a transformation that takes years off (the age of its perceived driver).
With this 2019 model, Lexus seems pretty determined to rid the ES of its longstanding image as a staid conveyance for those with high-performing mutual funds. How determined? There’s now, for the first time, an ES F Sport.
Chasing the Dragon: Lincoln's Plan to Capture the Chinese Market
While both Buick and Cadillac have a healthy lead over Lincoln in terms of domestic deliveries, the space between them is far more pronounced in China. At home, Ford moved 111,159 examples of its premium marque in 2017 against Cadillac’s 156,440. However, China’s Caddy sales clocked in at 175,489 last year — a number Lincoln could only muse about in its wildest fantasies.
That’s because Ford exports all of its luxury vehicles to China, while GM tends to build them locally. But the Lincoln brand shows a lot of promise in Asia. Ford moved roughly 80,000 vehicles in the People’s Republic in 2017 and 54,124 of those models wore the Lincoln cross. In theory, if Ford could localize and bolster its product lineup within the country, a higher volume would be all but assured. It’s a theory the automaker intends to test, too.
2019 Kia K900 Debuts, Does Its Damndest to Get Noticed
“Hey, what are you doing with my car?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought this was my Kia K900.”
That’s the scene Kia Motors wants to see play out in parking lots across America, now that the second generation of the brand’s flagship has seen the spotlight at the New York International Auto Show.
On sale later this year, the 2019 K900 — which sounds like the name of a Soviet submarine — aims to attract the buyers its predecessor lacked through understated style, piles of luxury features, attractive interior fittings, and improved driving dynamics. Kia’s an eternal optimist, we’ll give it that.
Please Be True: Lincoln Planning a Return to Suicide Doors on Continental, Report Claims
The future of the slow-selling Lincoln Continental couldn’t be more hazy, but a new report claims the brand is preparing a last-ditch effort to revive interest in the flagship sedan. How does Lincoln plan to reverse a sales slide amid an industry addicted to crossovers?
Yes, the novel layout once favored by luxury American automakers — and returned to prominence with the iconic 1961-1969 Continentals — could make a comeback.
'Limited' to the Number It Can Sell: Infiniti Cranks up the Exclusivity of Its Two Largest Models
Even with vehicles that aren’t at the forefront of public discourse, the winds blowing in favor of trucks and SUVs usually fill the sails of under-the-radar models, too. That’s been the case, more or less, for Infiniti’s top-of-the-heap QX60 and QX80 utility vehicles.
Born as the JX35, the QX60 three-row crossover shares its unibody architecture with the Nissan Pathfinder, but, despite a facelift for 2016, sales slipped last year. Its larger sibling, the body-on-frame, Nissan Patrol-based QX80, gained its own facelift for 2018. The range-topping SUV is the poster child for gradual sales inflation. Between 2016 and 2017, the QX80 found an extra 1,109 buyers in the United States. Another 1,126 hopped aboard between 2015 and 2016.
Hoping to lure more customers into the showroom (while squeezing more profit from both models), Infiniti is putting a time-honored strategy into action. For 2019, the automaker dials up the glitz and slaps on a “Limited” label.
QOTD: Putting a Price on Domestic Luxury?
I took a friend out for a spin last night, as there’s no Nor’easter action happening up here, strangely enough. This friend’s automotive tastes fall mainly on an area that’s rapidly fading from the automotive landscape: premium rear-drive sedans, personal luxury coupes, and brawny muscle cars. No crossovers, no SUVs, no roadsters. The Seventies, as he’s been known to say, may have been the last great decade. Mind you, he wasn’t talking about the economy.
Given that his top choices in domestics include the Cadillac CTS (the Dodge Challenger tops the list in the two-door category), I figured he wouldn’t turn down a quick jaunt in the CTS I’m driving right now. For some reason, there was a 3.6-liter, all-wheel-drive model in the local fleet. Out we went. Groceries were purchased, and the Caddy took the long, winding way home.
As a long-time fan of the CTS’ styling (the current model, while it lasts, remains a fantastic design, IMHO), my friend soon inquired as to its price. I ballparked it. “What? No, sorry,” was the reply. “For that money I’m going German.”
2019 Kia K900 Piles on the Luxury, but Will Buyers Pile on the K900?
Everyone’s favourite full-size, rear-drive Kia sedan returns with all-new clothing for 2019, and the Korean brand has seen fit to show us the car’s exterior before its debut at this month’s New York Auto Show. That’s good, as we’re not likely to invest much time in it at the show. Sorry, Kia.
Stubbornly refusing to vacate the full-size luxury field, Kia’s new K900 — sold as the prestigious K9 in the automaker’s home market — looks to bump up refinement in areas drivers found lacking. Given that the K900 is widely expected to borrow the Genesis G90’s platform and powertrains, ride quality and muscle shouldn’t be an issue.
Is the Mercedes-Maybach Pullman the Perfect Family Vehicle?
With the minivan now dethroned by sport utility vehicles and crossovers as the king of family transportation, we’ve run into a problem. Larger three-row SUVs can be expensive, while their more affordable counterparts frequently sacrifice cargo space and comfort to accommodate that last row of seats. Another issue is that adults who decided to spawn four children are forced to interact with them during long drives by occupying the same cabin.
Wouldn’t it be incredible if a manufacturer invented a vehicle that could solve most of these problems? Well, some already have. Limousines have been around for ages and it’s ludicrous that they haven’t been co-opted for family use. But, if you’re going to purchase a high-end luxury transport specifically for road trips with the brood, you had better make sure it’s so decadently comfortable and quiet in the back that they can’t help but fall asleep. That’s why the perfect family vehicle is probably the new Mercedes-Maybach Pullman S650.
Granted, the long-wheelbase version of the already lengthened variant of the S-Class isn’t intended for familial use. It’s supposed signal the wealth of overachieving business persons. But exceedingly wealthy parents who think way outside the box might find it worthy of double duty.