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The ?TOP 5? Luxury Cars For 2015: C-Class, Model S, Genesis, i3, RC Coupe Photo:
 
 
TMR Team | Jan, 19 2015 | 0 Comments

2014 was a big year in the prestige segment. While goliaths like Toyota experienced a reduction in market share, most luxury car manufacturers saw growth in their slice of the auto sales pie.

Electrification was another theme of 2014. Tesla’s all-electric Model S launched late last year and lived up to its significant hype; BMW launched its i3 and i8 electric/hybrid twins and Audi conducted preview drives of its A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid.

There was also a new player that entered the prestige game in 2014 with much fanfare.

The Hyundai Genesis comes from a brand that’s not known for luxury in this market, but, on test, it proved capable of holding its own against more traditional rivals from Germany and Japan.

While Hyundai was the newest brand to toss its hat into the prestige segment, the oldest automaker, Mercedes-Benz, launched the latest version of the ever-popular C-Class.

It’s already earned significant praise, and has earned its place on this list. Read on.

 

Tesla Model S

Price Range: $97,245 (Model S 60, ACT) - $142,591 (Model S P85, WA)
Engine: 225kW electric motor with 60kWh or 85kWh battery (Model S 60 and Model S 85), 310kW electric motor with 85kWh battery (Model S P85 Performance)
Transmission: Direct drive with variable regenerative braking

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The Model S redefined electric cars for us.

This car, above all others, proves that EV technology is mature enough to provide performance, range and refinement in a package that can justify a six-figure pricetag.

From its silky-smooth power delivery to its surprisingly roomy interior, the Model S is a car with few compromises despite the present lack of fast-charging infrastructure in this country.

(And not to mention the absence of support from the Federal Government for EV infrastructure and technology.)

Indeed, with a maximum range of 504kW in the P85+ the Tesla Model S has extraordinarily long legs for an electric car. Range anxiety begone.

The Model S is impressive enough as a premium sporting car, and has the range, to make it a viable alternative to petrol and diesel rivals from BMW, Benz, Audi and Lexus.

For Tesla’s first entirely in-house design, that’s incredible.

It also represents astonishing value. The range starts at just under $100k for the Model S 60, and ends at just over $140k for the M5-rivalling P85.

With a value-for-money equation like that, it’s little wonder that the Tesla Model S is on the Best Buy contenders list.

 

Our review verdict

Up until now, almost every car has been a compromise. Some are efficient, but not fun. Others are fast, but not practical. Rarely do these things converge.

The Tesla Model S is the exception.

It’s spacious enough for five adults and their luggage, it can tackle a winding mountain road with ease, it will win drag races, it’s easy to drive around town and it’s capable of doing all of the above without burning a single drop of petrol.

It’s not just a great electric car, it’s a great car, full-stop.

MORE: Model S News & Reviews

 

Hyundai Genesis

Price Range: $60,000 (Genesis) - $82,000 (Genesis Ultimate)
Engine: 232kW/397Nm 3.8 petrol 6cyl
Transmission: 8sp automatic

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It’s big, it’s supremely comfortable and, at $60,000, it’s affordable.

But is the Hyundai Genesis a luxury car?

While some may turn their nose up at the notion of a Korean-made large premium sedan, the reality is that the Genesis is more than deserving.

It may not wind up stealing sales from similarly-priced German luxo sedans, but is at least a size bigger than all of them, is at least a match for fit, finish and sumptuous quality, and is surprisingly swift and settled on-road.

For its size, value-for-money and impressive level of quality, the Hyundai Genesis is a worthy contender for this year’s Best Buy award.

 

Our review verdict

It is easy to toss armchair notions about, and easy to underestimate the Genesis.

But it isn’t until you inspect the craftsmanship, indulge in the comfort, and put the Genesis through its paces that you realise how accomplished this impressive car is.

Whichever model (you choose), the Genesis is every bit a proper luxury contender.

Sure, the lack of pedigree will deter some at this end of the market. That said, give it time (Hyundai is allowing itself plenty) and you will see a steady increase in the Genesis’ fortunes.

But do have a look; the Genesis is something special.

MORE: Genesis News & Reviews

 

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Price Range: $60,900 (C200) - $72,900 (C250 BlueTec Estate)
Engines: 135kW/300Nm 2.0 petrol 4cyl, 155kW/350Nm 2.0 petrol 4cyl, 100kW/300Nm 1.6 diesel 4cyl, 155kW/500Nm 2.1 diesel 4cyl
Transmission: 7sp automatic

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The speed at which technology trickles down from flagship models is getting faster and faster, and there’s no better proof of this than the new C-Class.

It’s exactly as if the design brief issued by Benz’s board of management was “shrink the S-Class”, because that’s almost precisely what the new C-Class is - a downsized little bro’ to Mercedes-Benz’s stately limo.

From its exterior design cues, to the layout of its interior, the level of technology on offer and even the gimmicky options (perfume piped through the A/C? This Merc has it), the 2015 C-Class feels just like a miniaturised version of the flagship S-Class.

And that’s why it’s Best Buy material.

 

Our review verdict

We were expecting it to be good, but this new C-Class is very good.

Even for a brand like Mercedes-Benz, where the expectations will always be high, the new C-Class feels incredibly high-end even at the C 200 entry-level.

This new model sets the bar for other premium marques, and, though it competes in a fiercely contested category, right now we can't think of another luxury car with quite the visual sparkle and premium feel of the C-Class.

MORE: C-Class News & Reviews

 

BMW i3

Price Range: $63,900 (i3 electric) - $69,900 (i3 range extender)
Engine: 125kW/250Nm electric motor
Transmission: Direct drive with variable regenerative braking

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The i3 is not for everyone. It’s not what you’d call cheap considering its size and range, and the styling won’t appeal to everyone.

But if you’re enticed by its green technologies, by a commitment to the smallest possible carbon footprint, and by the notion that ‘being green’ does not mean driving should be a chore, you’ll find the appeal, satisfaction at the wheel and typical BMW-dynamics in the BMW i3.

Sold as either a pure electric car or as a range-extender hybrid, the i3 can run for up to 160km on a mains-power electricity charge.

More than that though, it’s quiet, comfortable and surprisingly zippy. It’s compact, but as an urban runabout it’s the perfect size. We like it so much, it’s been nominated for this year’s Best Buy award.

 

Our review verdict

As an everyday runabout that's got plenty of room for four, can fit in tight parking spots, is easy to drive, is far from slow, costs substantially less to run than petrol-powered equivalents and isn't lacking in mod-cons... this i3 from BMW is the perfect city car.

Yep, it's priced out of reach of the common man, but consider that the i3 is barely more expensive than a Holden Volt yet boasts a greater electric range and a much nicer cabin, and you can see where the long-term trend is heading: electric cars are only going to get cheaper.

And that’s another reason why we like the i3 so much. As a sign of things to come, as a glimpse into what the future of motoring will look like, it bodes very well indeed.

MORE: i3 News & Reviews

 

Lexus RC 350

Price Range: $66,000 (RC 350 Luxury) - $86,000 (RC 350 Sports Luxury)
Engine: 233kW/378Nm 3..5 petrol 6cyl
Transmission: 8sp automatic

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The Lexus RC raised more than a few eyebrows when it launched last year, and not because of its bold bodywork.

Rather, with a starting price of $66,000 for the RC 350 Luxury, Lexus has managed to undercut almost every similarly-specced competitor by around $30,000.

Only the Infiniti Q60 Coupe is cheaper, and that car is as old as Moses. The RC 350 is a much fresher product in nearly every way.

It’s not quite as sharply-honed a sportscar as, say, the BMW 435i, yet it’s not wanting for sporting appeal either. However it’s the RC 350’s exceptional value-for-money that earns it a spot on our 2015 Best Buy shortlist.

 

Our review verdict

The value-for-money on offer is incredibly enticing, and may even see Lexus pinching more than a few customers from its European competitors.

As it stands, the RC 350 is a great car at a fantastic price. Right now it’s more of a cruiser than a slayer of mountain roads, but we see great potential in the RC.

MORE: RC News & Reviews


For TMR’s Best Buy Award 2015, the Contenders, are:

(Click on each model to learn more)

From this list, on Monday, 26th January, Australia Day, we will announce both the overall winner and the Top Ten Best Buys of 2015.

 
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