On April 17, at the New York International Auto Show, the winner of the World Car of the Year will be bestowed with the honor after a jury of 69 individuals from the automotive world weigh in on what car they believe is most significant for 2014. It’s the eighth year of the parallel between the World Car Awards and the New York Auto Show that, “Has seen the awards program grow to become the recognized number 1 premier automotive award,” the WCA’s press statement said.
The finalists in the World Luxury Car of the Year — listed below — and the World Car and World Performance Car categories will be chosen by secret ballot, based on the jurors’ “experience with each candidate as part of their professional work.” The jury panel is made up of automotive journalists from around the world.
This is the first year the the panelists will be choosing a World Luxury Car of the Year, and was “created to acknowledge higher-priced premium models selling in more limited numbers worldwide.”
1. Bentley Flying Spur
The Bentley Flying Spur is a part of an elite club that, aside from heavily-optioned Mercedes-Benz cars and Roll-Royce, really doesn’t have any competition. It uses a W-12 configured engine that displaces six liters, laying out 616 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, but the real reason one buys a Bentley is its opulent interior — which has to be super nice to justify its $206,225 starting price (yes, that’s the cheapest Flying Spur you can buy new.)
2. BMW X5
BMW’s flagship SUV has been renewed for 2014 with a new front facia and other cosmetic adjustments around the body. The X5 comes in three flavors; the base sDrive35i (300 horsepower twin-turbo V6), the xDrive35d (255 horsepower, from BMW’s diesel V6), and the xDrive50i (445 horsepower, twin-turbo V8). Prices range from $52,800 to $68,000, but before a shopping blitz on BMW’s lengthy options list.
3. Cadillac ELR
The Cadillac (NYSE:GM) ELR may not be fastest or most powerful luxury coupe on the market — it’s not, by a long shot — but the ELR is certainly a significant car, as its one of the only — if not the only extended-range electric vehicle in the luxury category. It comes at a steep $75,000 base price, which many feel is far too much for what is essentially a fancied up Chevy Volt, but Cadillac ensures that the level of craftsmanship and extra performance make the ELR well worth the cost.
4. Cadillac Escalade
GM is overhauling its entire SUV lineup for 2015, and the Escalade is seeing perhaps one of the more significant alterations. The build quality and materials are being stepped up substantially, and Cadillac is throwing far more standard equipment into it. The price starts at a lofty $71,695 at base, but Cadillac says that even the standard, most basic model will be as equipped as the higher trims of the previous generation.
5. Maserati Ghibli
The Maserati (FIATY.PK) Ghibli is perhaps the most important car in Maserati’s stable at the moment, given that its charged with bringing the brand from a niche player (with no car below $100,000) to a more mainstream competitor to the likes of BMW, Mercedes, and Cadillac. The Ghibli starts at $66,900, equipped with a 3.0 liter twin-turbo V6 that spits out 345 horsepower; more power can be offered by the Ghibli S, which adds about 60 more horses.
6. Maserati Quattroporte
If the Ghibli won’t cut it, buyers can jump to the $102,000 Quattroporte S, which is larger and naturally more powerful. The base Ghibli S engine (404 horsepower twin-turbo V6) is the standard engine for the Quattroporte, but the Quattroporte GTS offers a more hardcore sport sedan with a 3.8 liter twin-turbo V8 and 523 horsepower. Inside, buyers will be swaddled by the kind of interior that Italian firms are prided on, with fine leather, wood accents, and a clean, no-nonsense layout.
7. Mercedes-Benz S Class
BMW’s 3 Series undoubtably rules the roost on the smaller end of luxury sedans, but on the large end, the Mercedes-Benz (DDAIF.PK) is king. Mercedes has jammed just about every bit of conceivable technology into this car, making it an appliance, gadget, accessory, and transport all wrapped into one. Options include cabin fragrance, dual dash screen displays, a high-end Burmester stereo, and so much more; for a loaded S Class, be prepared to spend well over $120,000.
8. Porsche Macan
Like the Ghibli is for Maserati, the Porsche Macan is a crucial growth engine for the Porsche brand. It will become one of the most affordable Porsches on the market, and will give Porsche a player in the burgeoning midsize crossover market, which has proven to be highly lucrative for luxury automakers. The Macan S will put out a respectable 340 horsepower from a 3.0 liter V6, while the Macan Turbo’s 3.6 liter V6 will lay down 400 horsepower.
9. Range Rover Sport
There is perhaps no bigger name in rugged luxury than Land Rover, and the company is hoping to keep it that way with its new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The leather, wood trim and polished materials inside belie the Range Rover Sport’s impressive off-roading capabilities, and the Range Rover Sport’s smaller footprint (at least compared to its big sibling) make it easier to maneuver around urban environments, too. It can be had wit ha 3.0 liter V6, or a supercharged 5.0 liter V8.
10. Rolls-Royce Wraith
It’ll run you at least $250,000 and offers just two doors, but somewhere in between there you get a 6.6 liter twin-turbo V12, and some graceful, flowing body lines that rarely appear on a Rolls. Car and Driver says that the Wraith is meant to captivate a younger generation of Rolls-Royce buyer; most importantly, it’s a Rolls that more designed to be driven, not driven in.