2014 Luxury Auto Preview: Fasten Your Seatbelt and Start Dreaming

After years of profiting from China’s appetite for high-priced toys, makers of hyper and super luxury cars are shifting their focus back to more traditional markets such as the U.S.

According to Lamborghini SpA Chief Executive Officer Stephan Winkelmann, the U.S. demand for Lamborghini’s $400,000-plus Aventador flagship is growing at a pace reminiscent of the years before the 2008 global financial crisis. For most super luxury car makers, the U.S. is currently the strongest market globally.

R.L. Polk and Co. has recently defined the term “super luxury” as the segment of luxury cars costing more than $100,000. In this year’s super luxury car preview, we have selected nine cars that range from $105,000 for the Audi RS 7 to over $4 million for the outstanding Lamborghini Veneno Roadster. All 2014 and 2015 models are available for purchase in the United States. Our selection includes four astonishing super cars: the $1.3 million LaFerrari, the $1.1 million McLaren P1, the $4.2 million Lamborghini Veneno Roadster and the $2.6 million Bugatti Veyron Vitesse Legend “Meo Constantini”. We have also selected three unique models: the $200,500 Porsche Panamera Turbo S Executive, the $102,000 Maserati Quattroporte S Q4 and the $220,000 Bentley Continental V8 S Convertible. Last, but not least, we added a few sporty models from Audi and Jaguar: the $105,000 Audi RS 7 and the $174,000 Jaguar XKR-S GT. Some carmakers were not included this year, since they did not have significant new super luxury models launched within the last six months or are already featured elsewhere in this issue. Fasten your seatbelt and start dreaming!

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LAMBORGHINI VENENO ROADSTER

The $4.4 million Lamborghini Veneno Roadster is one of the world’s most exclusive automobiles. Only nine units of this street-legal prototype with an extreme design and breathtaking performance will be built. There is no roof, just a strong rollover bar for optimum safety. The design is focused on optimum aerodynamics and stability through fast corners with handling akin to that of a racing prototype.

With a maximum output of 552 kW/750 hp, the Veneno Roadster accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in just 2.9 seconds and the top speed stands at 221 mph. The Veneno Roadster is driven by a twelve-cylinder engine with a displacement of 6.5 liters and is equipped with the extremely fast-shifting ISR transmission with five modes, permanent all-wheel drive, and a racing chassis with pushrod suspension and horizontal spring/damper units.

The Lamborghini Veneno Roadster brings the aerodynamic efficiency of a racing prototype to the road. The entire design of the Veneno Roadster has been laid out for perfect airflow and downforce. The front end works as a large aerodynamic wing. The visual division of the rear fenders from the car body is a reference to the world of racing cars, and optimizes the aerodynamic flow. The smooth underbody transitions into a substantial diffuser framing the four sizable exhaust pipes divided by a splitter. The intense paint color, ”Rosso Veneno,” was developed exclusively for that car, although customers will be able to individualize their own vehicles to suit their personal preferences. The carbon fiber monocoque is visible inside the car around the central tunnel and the sills. The two lightweight bucket seats are made from Lamborghini’s patented Forged Composite. The woven carbon-fiber CarbonSkin is used to clad the entire cockpit, part of the seats and the headliner.

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2014 BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT V8 CONVERTIBLE

The appeal of the world’s most stylish, luxury grand tourer is enhanced with the introduction of the new, sporting Continental GT V8 S. Available as both a coupe and convertible, the new GT V8 S models bring added excitement to the Continental range with lowered and retuned sports suspension, sharper steering, dramatic “S” signature styling cues and a distinctive soundtrack from the uprated V8 engine. The new GT V8 S models feature a more powerful version of Bentley’s high-efficiency four-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine developing 521 bhp (528 PS/389 KW) at 6,000 rev/min and an immense peak torque of 680 Nm (502 lb. ft) at a mere 1,700 rev/min.

Delivered via a close-ratio ZF 8-speed automatic transmission, the increased power provides effortless, exhilarating high performance with breathtaking acceleration and imperceptibly smooth power delivery. The performance of the GT V8 S convertible is impressive, reaching 63 mph from a standing start in 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 191 mph.

While the elegant coachwork of the Continental GT is inspired by iconic Bentleys of the past, its modern, sculpted design, with crisp, highly-defined feature lines, is formed using advanced body construction techniques, achieving class-leading standards of quality and body integrity. The cabin of the Continental GT is renowned for its supreme luxury with soft-touch leathers, wood veneers, polished metals and deep-pile carpeting, handcrafted in Bentley’s unrivalled workshops at the factory in Crewe, England. The cabin of the “S” models presents a thoroughly modern interpretation of Bentley luxury in which color and tone offer further appeal to the senses. As with all Continental models, the “S” models include advanced infotainment technology as standard, including an eight-inch touchscreen which displays the car’s navigation, audio and telephone systems. Expect the cars’ stickers to be around $220,000.

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THE LAFERRARI

For Ferrari, the development of a limited-series special like the LaFerrari represents an opportunity to experiment with all of the technological solutions that will later filter down onto the production cars. Of particular significance in this context is the introduction of the hybrid system which, making full use of the Scuderia Ferrari’s F1 KERS knowhow, has resulted in a solution that exalts Ferrari’s fundamental values: performance and driving thrills.

The seat is fixed and tailored to the driver, while both the pedal box and steering wheel are adjustable. The driving position is similar to that of a single-seater, and was designed after consultation with the Ferrari F1 drivers. The LaFerrari’s chassis features no less than four different types of carbon fiber, all hand-laminated and autoclave-cured in the racing department using the same design and production methods as the F1 car.

The mid-mounted, direct injection 6.3-litre V12 is hooked up to a dual-clutch gearbox and electric motor, whose main control unit sits on top of the ‘box. A 120-cell, 60kg lithium ion battery pack is very tightly packaged under the seats in a Kevlar casing. The V12 spins to 9250 rpm and produces 790 bhp, and the electric motor adds the equivalent of another 160 bhp. The performance is insane – 0-62 mph in under three seconds and 0-124 mph in less than seven seconds! The LaFerrari’s body has been given a sculptural treatment heavily influenced by its clearly F1-inspired aerodynamics, and a tail section that exudes uncompromising sportiness. Inside, there’s a newly-designed steering wheel sporting all of the major commands. The whole interior has a fiercely track-inspired, pared-back allure. Just 499 of this LaFerrari model will be built and sold at an estimated $1.3 million per unit.

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BUGATTI VEYRON VITESSE LEGEND “MEO CONSTANTINI”

This Legend car, which like all cars in the series is based on the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, pays homage to Meo Costantini. Costantini was a close friend of the company’s founder, Ettore Bugatti. He was the head of Bugatti’s factory race team for many years and was also a driver, winning the Targa Florio two times in the Bugatti Type 35. The Legend Edition “Meo Costantini” is priced at $2.6 million and only three vehicles will be built.

The series of Bugatti Legend cars includes the Vitesse “Jean-Pierre Wimille,” “Jean Bugatti,” and the “Meo Constantini.” Its eight-liter W16 engine achieves an unparalleled torque of 1,500 Nm from 1,200 hp at 3,000 – 5,000 rpm, and can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 2.6 seconds. The Vitesse was driven to a top speed of 253 mph with the roof down, making it the fastest production roadster ever built. The body is primarily constructed of carbon fiber. The wings, doors, the parts behind the doors, the medallions and corners of the front bumper are rendered in aluminum. The blue paintwork on the carbon fiber parts references France’s classic motor sport color, as well as the Type 35. The new paint color “Bugatti Dark Blue Sport” has been specially developed for the vehicle. As a reference to Costantini’s victory at Targa Florio, the silhouette of the historic race course is painted on the underside of the rear wing (air-brake) in “Bugatti Dark Blue Sport.”

The interior is completely upholstered in leather. The roof, footwell, center sections of the seats and rear wall are all in the color “Gaucho,” a sophisticated cognac tone. The seats’ side cushions, arm rests, extended center console, door panels, dash panel, instrument panel and steering wheel are all trimmed in dark blue leather in the “Lake Blue” color.

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2014 AUDI RS 7

The highly-anticipated Audi RS 7 is the most powerful RS model ever offered in the U.S. The Audi RS 7 is fitted with a twin-turbo 4.0 TFSI V8 engine, producing an astounding 560 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Launching from 0-60 mph in just 3.7 seconds, the RS 7 has a top track speed of 174 mph. Mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic® automatic transmission, the RS 7 features the Audi quattro® all-wheel drive system with sport differential for superior grip and handling. The RS 7 is fitted with a robust brake system employing internally-ventilated and perforated discs in a weight-saving wave design. The front discs are 15.4 inches in diameter and the rear discs are 14 inches in diameter.

A series of design details gives the RS 7 a dynamic edge to its flowing coupe design. Available in standard, matte aluminum or carbon styling, the RS 7 features distinctive bumpers, an Audi Singleframe® grille in aluminum matte or high-gloss black, honeycomb grille inserts and heated, auto-dimming and power-folding exterior mirrors. The adaptive rear spoiler, lower rear diffuser and two large elliptical tailpipes of the exhaust system signify the performance that the RS 7 has to offer. Inside, the RS 7 exudes sportiness and power with its three-spoke perforated multifunction sport steering wheel with contrast stitching and RS 7 emblem, sport seats in Valcona leather with honeycomb quilting, and RS-specific shift knob and interior door handles.

The RS 7 is equipped standard with Audi side assist, which monitors the blind spot areas, as well as fast-approaching vehicles, at a range of approximately 150 ft. to the rear of the car. The 2014 Audi RS 7 is equipped standard with the award-winning infotainment system Audi connect®. Pricing for the all-new high-performance 2014 Audi RS 7 begins at $104,900.

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MASERATI QUATTROPORTE S Q4

The $102,000 Maserati Quattroporte S Q4 is one of the best Maserati models ever launched. The Q4 system delivers the responsiveness of a traditional Maserati rear-wheel drive combined with the added security that only an all-wheel drive can bring in critical situations, without creating extra fuel consumption. The system leaves the front wheels passive until they are needed to help with traction, and then they are instantly and intelligently engaged. The Maserati Q4 all-wheel-drive system is available with the new V6 410 hp engine and perfectly matches the grand touring qualities expected of a high-performance Maserati sedan, whatever the road conditions.

The Twin Turbo 3.0-litre V6 engine delivers another distinct price and performance point for the Quattroporte S and S Q4. The Twin Turbo V6 engines utilize much of the Twin Turbo V8’s already-proven technology, including its variable valve timing, its valve drive system and its direct fuel injection. Choosing V6 power takes little away from the Quattroporte’s hallmark performance, delivering 301kW (410 Hp) of power and 550Nm of torque. This is enough power to drive the Quattroporte V6 Twin Turbo to 63 mph in less than five seconds and on to a top speed of 178 mph.

The Quattroporte’s all-new architecture retains its traditionally exquisite handling with all of its engines, thanks to its perfectly-balanced weight distribution, a double-wishbone front suspension and a state-of-the-art five-link rear suspension. It also delivers new standards in quality in every area from design, development, fabrication and process controls. Traditional handcrafted detailing continues in the Quattroporte’s cabin, and this has been added to with even more interior space in all seats and both four- and five-seat layouts. Cabin luxury leaps forward technically, too, with features like the Maserati Touch Control screen, adjustable pedals, reversing cameras and the optional 15-speaker BW audio system, as well as the WiFi system.

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THE MCLAREN P1

The astonishing new $1.15 million McLaren P1 is intended to be the best driver’s car in the world on road and track. To achieve this objective, McLaren is using all of its 50 years of racing experience and success, especially in the fields of aerodynamics and lightweight carbon fiber technology. The result is a car that has an unprecedented amount of downforce for a road vehicle. This downforce not only boosts cornering and braking performance – it also helps balance, stability and driveability at all speeds.

To deliver exceptional straight-line performance and instant throttle response, the P1 uses an innovative IPAS petrol-electric powertrain comprising a substantially revised 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine, coupled to a single electric motor. Combined power output is 903 hp. Top speed is electronically limited to 217 mph, with the 0-63 mph standing start acceleration taking less than three seconds.

The astonishing technology developed for the P1 includes active aerodynamics, adjustable suspension and adjustable ride height as part of the new hydro-pneumatic suspension. Other areas of F1 technology evident on the P1 include the revolutionary layered carbon ceramic brakes, the IPAS (Instant Power Assist System), while DRS (Drag Reduction System) is also used on the P1, giving extra power and straight-line speed, both at the touch of a button.

The interior of the P1 offers the driver and passenger a cocooning, efficiently-packaged, comfortable cabin. Light weight, as with the rest of the car, is a priority, yet the McLaren P1 retains luxury features such as full climate control, satellite navigation and a bespoke sound system, developed from the outset with Meridian. Inside the two-seat cabin carbon fibre is used for the dashboard, floor, headlining, doors and rockers and a single piece is shaped for the central control unit to further optimize weight.

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PORSCHE PANAMERA TURBO S EXECUTIVE

Porsche is placing its fastest, most powerful and most luxurious Panamera grand touring sedan at the peak of the series. With a power output of 570 hp and a top track speed of 192 mph plus a particularly extensive and top-quality range of features, the Panamera Turbo S is guaranteed a special status in its market segment. For the first time ever, an Executive version of the Panamera Turbo S is also available with a wheelbase that has been extended by 5.9 inches. As a result, the Panamera Turbo S Executive offers significantly more space and even more comfort, particularly at the rear. Thermal and noise-insulated windows which include privacy glazing, an interior lighting package designed especially for the rear, and a large center console at the rear are just some of the extensive standard features.

The character of the new Panamera Turbo S is evident not only in its driving performance but also in the key distinguishing features of its appearance. The Palladium Metallic exterior color, which is available solely for the new Panamera Turbo S, gives the top model an especially exclusive look and enhances the classy, elegant contours. Thanks to the optional sport exhaust system, the Panamera Turbo S offers drivers the opportunity to maximize the emotional character of the car whenever they wish. This unique sound experience is achieved by means of an acoustic channel that can be switched at the push of a button. This channel directs the engine sound straight into the interior. The synthesis of exclusivity and sportiness is upheld in the interior by the two-tone leather furnishings which come as standard. One particular highlight is the new interior package in Dark Burl Walnut. The Panamera Turbo S M.S.R.P. starts at $180,300 and the Panamera Turbo S Executive at $200,500.

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2014 JAGUAR XKR-S GT

The XKR-S GT is the ultimate track-ready and street-legal version of the XK Coupe which was developed by the Jaguar ETO division, an in-house specialty vehicle group. The XKR-S GT begins with the high-strength all-aluminum body structure featured on every Jaguar XK. This structure is assembled using aerospace-derived aluminum bonding and riveting techniques. The addition of extensive aerodynamic enhancements, suspension changes, and carbon ceramic brakes, endow the XKR-S GT with track-ready performance. This is the first time such a brake system has been fitted to a production Jaguar vehicle.

A limited production run will see just 30 $174,000 cars built for North America, with 25 for the United States, and five for Canada. A range of bespoke carbon fiber components all work to maximize the aerodynamic downforce. These include an extended front splitter, dive-planes and an elevated rear wing. Astonishing performance is provided by a supercharged five-liter V8 engine, producing 550 hp and 502 lb/ft of torque, driving through a six-speed automatic transmission and active electronically-controlled rear differential. Combined with the aerodynamic and suspension changes, plus revisions to the traction control system’s calibration, the result is a 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds with an electronically-limited top speed of 186 mph.

The XKR-S GT will be offered exclusively in Polaris White with black racing stripes, and will feature a Jaguar R-S GT script on its louvered hood. The warm charcoal-colored interior features red accents, and includes 16-way electrically-adjustable performance seats finished in soft-grain leather and suede cloth with the Jaguar and R-S GT scripts integrated into the backrests. “Jet” black suede cloth is used for the headliner and steering wheel. The steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are now finished in aluminum and are fitted as standard.

About The Author

Emmanuel Lupe

Emmanuel Lupe is the executive automotive and luxury travel editor for Jetset Magazine. Emmanuel travels all around the world to cover sporting events such as F1 and sports car racing. He test drives the most luxurious cars as soon as they are unveiled! Lupe also attends auto shows, new car launches and luxury car events behind the scenes to make sure Jetset readers are the first to learn about them! He also travels the globe to discover the best hotels of the world and unique and exotic destinations so Jetset readers can follow in his footsteps right after him! For editorial consideration please contact [email protected](dot)com.

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