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Top luxury cars of 2015: Pioneers of design and technology win the day.


LONDON: From Geneva to Frankfurt and from Dubai to Jeddah, last year's motor shows displayed many memorable new cars. Last year could have easily been the best year for the industry in a decade if it was not for the setback of the VW diesel-emission debacle. Yet, the world enters 2016 with high anticipation and optimism that what has been achieved last year will transform the cars we drive in this and future years. Aspects of technology such as control by hand gestures and semi-autonomous driving have become a reality. Innovative design also attracted attention in international events. Two companies at least offered open-top luxury sedans for four passengers, while hybrid technology has spread to more segments and has become more efficient. Some experts partially explain the drop in oil prices by how efficient new cars have become. This trend is likely to continue with regulators enforcing ever more stringent requirements for fuel efficiency. The following cars show glimpses of excellence and illustrate some of the most significant cars of 2015. They have introduced new technologies and innovated on design. They represent the best in their segments. Aspects of their innovations are likely to filter down to other cars during the New Year. The cars below define what was best in 2015. They are a representative sample from various segments that highlights the best on display in last year's auto shows: * BMW 7 Series: This is the sixth generation 7 Series, launched by the company in 2015 to take on the Mercedes-Benz S Class. It is packed with technology options including latest infotainment system and control by hand gestures. It also has some advanced autonomous driving features such as self-parking. The owners would be able to park their cars remotely by key-fobs. It is offered in short and long-wheel base versions and is 130 kilograms lighter than its predecessor. The range-topping petrol version is the 750i xDrive model, which uses a 444bhp 4.4-liter V8 engine. Standard equipment includes 18in alloys, four-zone air-con, a 10in infotainment screen, Comfort seats, LED lights, a high-spec navigation system, wood interior trim, heated seats, a reversing camera, parking sensors, an advanced stereo, and sports steering wheel among other items. The options list is also lengthy, and is packed with everything from luxury trims to the latest technology. It includes an interior heating package that heats the armrests as well as the seats and steering wheel, night vision, inductive mobile phone charging, and the new parking system, where the car can be parked without the need for the driver to be behind the wheel. * Lexus RX: The all-new 2016 Lexus RX luxury crossover was revealed for the first time at the 2015 Dubai International Motor Show. The RX offers advanced redesigned gasoline and hybrid powertrains, sophisticated safety technologies including the new Lexus Safety System+, driver aids, new convenience and technology features that make it one of best Lexus SUVs offered to date. The distinct styling of the RX is expressed in the signature spindle grille featuring a chrome-plated border and triple L-shape-LED headlamps, as well as redesigned fog lamps. The spindle theme of the front also defines its rear design, providing a high level of aesthetic balance and consistency. Of particular note is the floating-roof effect never seen on a Lexus before, the panoramic moon roof and solid roof rails, in addition to a redesigned Smart Entry System door handles that now come with convenient illumination. The Lexus RX is available with two engine choices: the RX 350 comes with a 3.5-liter, V-6 petrol engine mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission and producing 295 horsepower, while the RX 450h is equipped with a 3.5-liter, V-6 petrol engine and revised hybrid powertrain components producing 308 horsepower. The RX 450h is available at the same price as its petrol equivalent. * Mercedes Benz S Class Cabriolet: Mercedes AMG S 63 Cabriolet, the first 4-seater cabriolet in the S-Class was introduced at last year's Dubai International Motor Show. The vehicle uses a 5.5-liter V8 biturbo engine which is one of the most efficient series-produced V8 engines produced by the company. With an output of 430 kW (585 bhp) and 900 NM of torque, the AMG eight-cylinder engine meets the very highest standards. The S 63 Cabriolet accelerates to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 250 km/h (electronically limited). NEDC fuel consumption of 10.4 liters per 100 km makes the two-door model the most fuel-efficient model in its competitive segment. The engine is fitted by hand in the AMG section of the factory and engine sound can be tuned to the owner's wishes. The engine is linked to a 7-speed sports transmission. The company describes the 4-seater cabriolet as a "dream car." * Rolls Royce Dawn: Launched first online and then at Frankfurt and Dubai, the Rolls Royce Dawn made waves of excitement among motoring enthusiasts. The company insists Dawn is not a derivate of the Wraith model as 80 percent of its exterior body panels are new. The aim of the project, according to the company was clear - to do what no other car manufacturer had achieved so far - make a car that looks as beautiful with its roof up as with it down. The car uses a fabric roof which can be raised or lowered in 20 seconds at cruising speed up to 50 kph in complete silence. The Dawn uses the same powertrain of the Wraith and some of its other components including the chassis. * Bentley Bentayga: The relevance of the Bentley Bentayga is that it is taking the company to a totally new direction as the first luxury Bentley SUV. Bentley succeeded in preserving the company genes in the new car which is instantly recognizable. It is labelled as the fastest and most powerful SUV in the world. It uses a new variant of the famous Bentley 6.0-liter W12 twin-charged engine which propels the car to 60mph in 4.0 seconds and reaches a top speed of 187mph. There's cylinder shut-down and this new unit is 30kg lighter than its predecessor. The Bentayga returns 21.6mpg on the combined cycle and emits 297g/km of CO2.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Jan 3, 2016
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