Drivers who buy new cars today do not usually have to worry about whether the car should throw an axle on the side of the road, or whether the brakes will be on a steep hill. We can expect to get air conditioners and heated front seats as standard equipment, and we can expect that the technology in the car will work intuitively and will improve, rather than hampering the driving experience.
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That does not mean that all modern luxury cars are created equal. Far from. Some have foamed interior materials that feed their walls, others lack the power and torque of competing competitors. Others are just boring. In today's world of wild and regular supercars, coupons and SUVs, there is no excuse for it.
Lexus LC 500
I'm not stumbling on the Lexus LC 500 about what it looks like on the outside. I like its swooped body, big wheels and low, smooth roofline. If I had to buy a Lexus, it might even be this. It is the most exciting of that family. Unfortunately, it doesn't say much.
No, my problem with the LC 500 is twofold: First, it does not compete, performance and craft, with others of type and price point. Compare it to the Acura NSX and Porsche 911 and you will find each one a much more comfortable and emotional experience to drive. They are precise and immediate when you put the steering wheel and when you press the brakes. They're quick and sharp to drive: It's as if they expect what you want to do. The LC 500, on the other hand, takes a blow to digest your request and maybe it will come back to you. It does not have the visceral sensation of toughness during that engine or aggression in the gear to help it quickly. It's lukewarm.
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Second, and more annoying, the interior of LC 500 feels plastic and light. The display and technology system is so bad it's like the Cadillac line-up, which is terrible. The Range Rover Velar contains the most exceptional example on the market today – even to knock out Tesla – while the screen controls and performance of the Lexus LC 500 sensitivity years behind. The "touchpad" at the bottom of the center console and the vertically oriented design will annoy. Have you ever heard anyone say, "I'd like to use a semi-responsive, small, black flat screen set near my knee when I drive?" Doubtful.
The technology is imprecise at best. And certainly not intuitive. In fact, from this Lexus Bloomberg Businessweek it made the best and worst car touchscreens on the market today.
19659002] Here's the problem with the Audi S4: It's boring. Both inside and outside. It's not a crime, but it's unpredictable in this day and age. Tesla makes an electric sedan that is more interesting, visual than this car is, for the sake of goodness.
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It has a ho-hum V6 engine that produces 354 horsepower and 369 pound-foot torque, which, though, is 164 more horsepower and 133 more pounds -foots with torque than the A4 model.
That means a zero-to-60 sprint time of 4.4 seconds. The basic BMW M3 can do 60mph for 3.9 seconds, and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG can do it in 4 seconds flat. There is really no comparison.
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As I say in my review, S4 is a good example of what the generic modern luxury sedan is – safe and rounded off, as a politically correct public service announcement at the airport: scroll, scroll, browse, even if you notice. Take off the badges and I'll bet on you US $ 100, you couldn't identify this as an Audi.
Audi is a great car manufacturer. I expect more of it than this. You should too.
Aston Martin DB11 Volante
You are probably surprised to see a lovely convertible from such a respected mark on this list. But stick to me. Unlike the Lexus LC 500 – the opposite, really – I have no stupidity with how the DB11 Volante driver. Its V8 engine will hit 62 miles per hour in four seconds and has a top speed of 187mph. A clear look at one when it goes, can send zippers down the spine. This car looks good in the kind of dirty eyes and not-too-close.
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But spend some time with it, and – from the inside out – the design of the car is hard to embrace. With the top up, the canvas looks covered with threads over the infinitely small rear seats. Hung across the car's low body, every other beautiful body line compromises the brand has worked so hard to develop and protect. It reduces half of the vision lines behind the wheel and makes everything feel cramped and too busy inside. If I owned this car, I would never get the top of fear of destroying their otherwise fine outer body lines.
Inside you are also in trouble. With the top up, the interior began, which seemed relaxed when it was open to airy air, suddenly feeling stressful. This is because Aston Martin has quite strangely taken to specifying his press cars: they are clear and crisp, with more leather and sheds and seam colors on the seats and doors and dashes that all connect. From the (uncomfortably rigid and fast) front seats, it's like sitting inside a narrow karaoke bar without escaping in sight. And I didn't want the back seat of anyone I cared about – even remotely.
If you want an Aston Martin convertible, steer you against Vanquish S Volante. It gives more space and vision.
Infiniti recently debuted a special "Project Black" hybrid sports car inspired by Formula 1. It has 563 horsepower and a hybrid electric train developed by Renault. It's the best car that Infiniti does – and it's not even available to normal consumers. On the other side of the family table, it is the QX50 SUV.
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This SUV looks great, but only comes with four cylinders and 268 horsepower. (Step on the gas and you will feel the anemic response.) It rolls and lumbers around corners. The interior cabinets look as if they came directly from 2008: as boring as the outer body, except for the many different fonts used in graphics displays that are confusing.
The QX50 has enough space inside the cabin as sufficient storage space. And it runs. I guess that's something.
I can't imagine a lonely reason to buy Acura RDX.
RDX has some more horsepower and torque than input variants of the Porsche Macan and BMW X3. But the fit and finish inside, the robot's exterior look with unpleasant front grille, the flawed handling and the quirky design of the technology, completely sets the car's overall appeal sufficient to make it an afterthought for those who want to buy a crossover like this.
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Inside, the interior materials feel cheap, such as plastic, and the entertainment and climate control with touch pad and center control ("Acura True Touchpad Interface") is switched only by Lexus for the weirdness of design. (Exhibits A and B: control panel controls, vertical adjustment in the center of the console.) Outside, the lack of handling and lack of any noticeable personality or driving style – a powerful motor note or bad torque – will be fine – serve the side note status at best, compared to its competitors.
For the discerning buyer, the small Porsche or BMW SUVs would be worth considering. Or even better, if you want to save money, buy the exceptional Volvo XC60. For now, skip the RDX.
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