2013 latest luxury cars
A frugal diesel-hybrid brings environmental credentials to Mercedes-Benz's classy E-Class for Car of the Year in 2013.PT2M32S 620 349
Finalist: Audi A6 3.0 TDI
When it comes to a luxury car, there are certain things buyers naturally expect: exceptional quality and refinement, more than adequate performance, a long list of equipment, comfort and, to some degree, style.
Both of our contenders for the Best Luxury Car Over $80, 000 – the defending champion, Audi’s A6 3.0-litre TDI and the updated Mercedes-Benz E-Class in E300 Hybrid guise - have all of those attributes covered in spades.
Separating their individual strengths to determine a winner was an extremely tough exercise, creating plenty of debate among the judges in regards to how much emphasis luxury car buyers place on economy over performance, tradition over style and technology over value.
Both are brilliant cars and reach maximum points all of our judging criteria from slightly different directions. The fact that, like last year, the final result was decided by a close vote is an indication of how competitive this segment is.
The Audi has won this title for the last two years on the strength of its frugal yet gutsy 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6, faultless build quality and decent equipment levels and this year we decided to assist its defence by stepping up the ladder to the even more powerful bi-turbo version of the same engine.
Its maximum power output of 230kW may seem adequate enough on paper, but the fact it delivers a V8-rivalling surge of torque – with 650Nm available between 1450-2800rpm – ensures the A6 is a sleeper when it comes to outright performance.
That wasn’t lost on the judges either.
“What an awesome engine, ” said one.
“It offers the best of both worlds; the economy of a small car with the performance of a much larger car, ” added another.
While most appreciated its tidal wave of torque, one wasn’t quite as convinced by its power delivery.
“Its acceleration is effortlessly brilliant when the turbos are already on-boost, but it comes on so strong, and the auto is a bit slow to react, that it feels like it takes a while to react, ” said one judge.
Comments about its ride quality also varied from “nice and comfortable” to a “bit choppy over rough surfaces” while most agreed its steering felt too artificial even though it displayed safe and predictable handling attributes thanks to its all-wheel drive transmission.
None of the judges could fault its cabin in terms of luxury, space, high-tech features and its more progressive design.
But the Mercedes-Benz E300 Hybrid has stolen the A6’s crown in this contest.
While its basic underpinnings are older than the A6, the E-Class has always been at the pinnacle of its class for comfort, refinement and dynamics.
The refreshed sedan introduced this year takes it even further and finally introduces the German car maker’s first hybrid-powered vehicle to Australia and the first car to offering semi-autonomous driving functions.
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