Porsche is putting all luxury sedan automakers on notice: beware the one-two punch of the 2017 Panamera 4S and Panamera Turbo. Completely redesigned, in the four-door’s first major overhaul since its debut in 2009, which one you decide upon depends heavily on both your pocketbook and your appetite for raw performance.
In nature, single celled organisms divide themselves in two as an integral part of their reproductive strategy. At the blackjack table, you double-down on a good hand. In the automotive industry, if you've got a successful platform in the stable it only makes sense to maximize your return in terms of appealing to as many different groups of buyers as possible. So it goes with the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze hatchback, the all-new five-door version of the Bowtie brand's recently-redesigned compact sedan.
For a nation so addicted to crossovers and SUVs, it's perverse that Audi had to get sneaky to make America swallow its wagon medicine. The 2017 Audi A4 allroad keeps to the Avant-with-attitude ethos of previous generations, but introduces a brand new quattro all-wheel drive system that the German automaker expects to go down very well among what has traditionally been a fairly niche allroad audience.
In an industry increasingly driven by bottom-line bolstering SUVs that cater to sales volume over anything resembling a passion for driving or design, the 2017 Infiniti Q60 is a ray of hope. Here is a car staged to take part in the vanishingly small sliver of the market given over to premium coupes - a segment devastated by the transition away from personal luxury to sport-utilities in the late 90s - and yet the investment made in the completely redesigned Q60's every detail firmly communicates Infiniti's commitment to taking on leaders from BMW (the 4 Series), Mercedes-Benz (the C-Class) and Audi (the A5).
Nestling in-between the Flying Spur V8 - which is as "entry level" as a Bentley sedan gets - and the W12-engined original, the new 2017 Flying Spur V8 S is all about eager affordability. Feel free to put as many air-quotes around "affordability" as it takes to stomach the $205,000 starting price, drop your weary, wealthy body into the supple leather seats, and try to get with the old-school charm.
Volkswagen is an automaker in transition, and the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is a harbinger of things to come. With Americans tilting inexorably towards crossovers and SUVs as their conveyance of choice, and faced with a line-up heavily weighted with turbodiesel sedans and hatchbacks that the EPA has placed on indefinite hiatus, VW's market makeover is only just beginning. The Golf Alltrack's wagon-based, crossover-friendly image heralds an SUV onslaught that will continue through the next 12 months as an all-new three-row people mover and long-awaited replacement for the slow-selling Tiguan compact sport-utility also make their way to showrooms.
Lurking just below the surface of flashy ad campaigns and country club one-upmanship at the valet station there exists a world of comfortable, handsomely-styled automobiles that deliver 90 percent of the features found in traditional luxury cars almost completely under the radar. The 2017 Kia Cadenza is one such premium sleeper, joining the ranks of the Buick LaCrosse, the Toyota Avalon, and the Nissan Maxima as de facto upscale vehicles that ply the full-size sedan waters with silent dignity.
Automakers ignore the aspirations of global giant Hyundai at their own peril. Cresting a 10-year renaissance that has seen the Korean automaker carve up its Japanese and American rivals in everything from the entry-level compact segment to the hot-selling SUV market, the enormous and unblinking eye of Hyundai's product planning team has now turned its full attention to the world of luxury. Successful, and lengthy flirtation with the viability of the Genesis nameplate under the auspices of its current hierarchy has lead to the Genesis G90 full-size sedan exploding onto the scene for 2017 as the herald of an all-new, and entirely separate premium brand.
The 2017 Infiniti QX30 is Japanese designed, built in post-Brexit Britain, with German parts and engineering, and packaged for crossover-loving America: if that doesn't earn it the title of a "global car", I'm not sure what would. Taking over the reins of guiding new-to-brand buyers into the Infiniti family from the now-deceased G-series sedan, the QX30 arrives with high ambitions indeed, proudly setting its sights on the small, luxury crossovers from BMW and Audi.
Jaguar may be new to the SUV segment, but there are no allowances for tardiness: the 2017 F-PACE has to land a knock-out punch to heavyweight rivals and prove the famed British marque is about more than just coupes and heritage. Falling somewhere in-between competitors like the BMW X3 and X5, and Audi Q3 and Q5, in size, the F-PACE doesn't take the easy route of raiding Land Rover's parts bin but instead forges its own path on both the highway and in the rough stuff.
Volvo's attack on the midsize luxury segment and the German cars which dominate it, the 2017 S90, arrives this year, but the seasoned Swedophile knows more interesting sheet metal is still to come. Due to arrive on US shores in 2017 is the Volvo V90, a wagon that aims to give American buyers traditionally averse in recent years to that particular body style something to sway them.