Two cars that go beyond just luxury

OTT cars from 2017 you’ll want in 2018 too, because they go beyond performance and luxury

Every year, I test dozens of luxury cars. Almost all can be categorised: sedans are comfortable, crossovers are sporty, and performance cars are solely designed for speed. Then there are those that can’t quite be slotted. These are the machines tailored for just a few.

Mercedes G63 AMG

Originally commissioned in the ’60s as a military vehicle by the Shah of Iran, the G-Wagen has, over the years, built a reputation for itself in the off-roading community. While the old boxy look is retained, Mercedes has been adding creature comforts to this unconventional off-roader. The design for the latest avatar, ‘Edition 463’, is a clever mash-up of old and new. The old-school round headlamps are complemented with strips of bright daytime running lights; the massive 20-inch alloy wheels have bright red calipers; while the squarish ORVMs are covered by carbon-fibre.

A special car needs a special engine, and powering this beast is a 5.3-litre, V8 bi-turbo petrol engine, that is hand-assembled by AMG, the performance division of Mercedes-Benz. The engine churns out 544 hp and 760 Nm of torque. Step inside and you realise how tall the sitting position is. There is a 7-inch screen at the centre of the dashboard, along with a clickwheel that lets you access navigation, entertainment, connectivity and the car’s functions.

The front seats are crafted by AMG, and the usual electronic adjustments come with side bolstering. After all, you need to be comfortable whether you’re conquering terrain or dashing across empty roads. Getting behind the wheel is an experience in itself: press the pedal down on a straight road and the car will zoom from standstill to 100 km/hr in just under 5.4 seconds. To put it in perspective, this is a 2.6-tonne vehicle, and it is just a second slower than a Porsche 911.

The G-Wagen has a permanent all-wheel-drive with electronic traction system and three differential locks. I did use one of the differentials during my little stint of off-roading in one of the valleys of Lonavala (It had it all — rocks, gravel, grass, and rain).

The wheels were rooted while I kept going. The Mercedes G63 AMG does have its shortcomings: a heavy steering, body roll, understeer and a never-ending thirst for high-octane fuel, but for an enthusiast, all of this and a ₹2.3 crore price tag is but a hiccup for timeless design and a brutal V8.

Porsche Panamera Turbo

The 2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo is a car that literally has the best of both worlds. On one hand, there are all the creature comforts that you would expect from a luxury sedan, and on the other, you have the agility, roar, and handling of a sports car, the iconic 911.

Under the hood is a 4-litre turbocharged V8 that delivers 550 bhp to all the four wheels and takes the car from standstill to 100 km/hr in under 3.6 seconds.

Two cars that go beyond just luxury

It is mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission that is more like an industry benchmark when it comes to shifting gears quickly, while maintaining higher RPM. Behind the wheel, I was instantly enamoured by the performance and comfort of the Panamera.

I drove it from Mumbai to Lonavala and back, on the expressway and the ghats, and it just digs into the curves with ease and grace. With the suspension in comfort mode, passengers are cocooned in their own bubble of luxury and calm. In the city, the intuitive PDK transmission picked the right gear to navigate through stop-and-go traffic, while the adaptive air suspension glided over small potholes. I never tired of driving.

Inside, the cockpit has been streamlined, and is revolutionary than evolutionary. It is retro-futuristic, there are no knobs or buttons but a giant 12.3-inch touchscreen and a host of touch-sensitive controls neatly integrated into a black glass console.

The Panamera is a perfect match of performance and technology.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 1:17:42 AM |

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