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The Best In Luxury Cars 2013

With smaller, lighter, faster, greener and more techy entries, car makers continue to widen the road for what is considered high-line driving
Paul A. Eisenstein
From the Print Edition:
Jeremy Irons, March/April 2013

(continued from page 2)

When Porsche introduced the original Boxster, back in 1997, it had an almost toy-like quality and would never be confused with the German maker’s classic sports car, the 911. To its credit, each successive generation of the Boxster has gotten better and better. And during its unveiling in Geneva, last March, when we asked Porsche chief designer Michael Mauer what the goal was with the all-new model, his response was simple: “To make it more mature.” After spending time with the 2013 Porsche Boxster we’d have to say that it nails it.

If there’s a downside, it’s Porsche’s problem, not ours. The new model is so solid, so nimble and so attractive that those 911 wanna-owns who might otherwise have strained to get into the flagship model can now comfortably enjoy—rather than settle for—the Boxster.

Honorable mention: That said, the latest-generation 911—and the even newer 911 Carrera 4S—simply set the benchmark if you want to push the limits without stretching your budget all the way up into supercar territory. We are, however, anxiously awaiting a first drive of Jaguar’s new sports car, the F Type, which is likely to land on next year’s short list.

Best Luxury Convertible
Infiniti IPL G Convertible

The Infiniti brand long struggled in the shadows of the more successful Japanese luxury brand, Lexus. But the Nissan subsidiary has been gaining some traction in recent years. Much of that is due to the sleek lines and solid performance of the compact G-Series line, which now includes the new Infiniti IPL G convertible, a more muscular take on the G37 cabriolet.

The initials are short for Infiniti Performance Line, and at 325 horsepower and 267 lb/ft of torque, the Infiniti IPL G Convertible gets a noticeable bump up from the more conventional Infiniti G37 cabrio, the base car which had plenty of show but needed more go. Like the stock G37 convertible, the IPL G features a three-piece folding hardtop that maintains the sensuous lines of the G-Series, whether up or down.

Honorable mention: It was a virtual coin toss, with the Audi A5 cabriolet a solid competitor to the new Infiniti. Volvo also weighs in with the S80 convertible which is likely to come as a shock to anyone still thinking that Swedish designers can’t think outside the box—shape—of years past.
 
Best Premium Luxury Convertible/Roadster
Mercedes-Benz SL

How can we hand this honor to anything other than the all-new Mercedes SL? With the revolutionary original, those letters stood for sport and light, though like all too many other products introduced in the six decades since, the SL roadster has gotten bigger and bulkier. But the all-new model takes the Mercedes two-seater back to its roots.

Schwabian engineers have come up with a modern take on the original car’s aluminum tube frame that shaves as much as 300 pounds off the 2013 SL, depending on the specific model. That decreased mass has a number of benefits, including increased performance and agility—as well as notably reduced fuel consumption. Add a number of other innovations, including the trick FrontBass audio system and the Magic Vision Control wiper system and the latest SL is as striking at the first.

Honorable mention: BMW’s new M6 is everything one could expect when pairing the vaunted M-badge with the maker’s latest 6-Series coupe: stylish, sophisticated and blindingly fast. Bentley’s Continental GTC, meanwhile, takes open-air motoring to its finest level with the sort of elegance you’d expect from the British marque, including a multilayer, folding soft top that, when up, is as quiet at the GT coupe.


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