2021 is the year when electromobility is taking its full range of models to the road for the first time. A look at the newcomers in the luxury and sports segment reveals that e-mobility can also mean ‘dream car’. A selection of the highlights follows.
The design is too bulky, the range too short and the sound too unreal – if you believe the myths about e-mobility, e-cars still have a somewhat boring image. The truth is that unappealing bodywork and mundane cars where sensible is the watchword have long been a thing of the past. On the contrary – increasing numbers of manufacturers are fully exploiting the potential of the technology with platforms specifically designed for e-mobility, and nowhere more so than in the premium and luxury car segment, where the advantages of e-cars afford completely new possibilities. The result? Better road holding, improved handling, more space, and acceleration from zero to a hundred kilometres per hour in record time. Here is a selection of the most beautiful electric cars in the premium and luxury class of 2021.
On the market since 2012, since when it has sold over 310,000 cars – the Tesla Model S is not only the most popular premium class e-car, but also a pioneer and trailblazer when it comes to battery technology and range. Current models are achieving over 600 kilometres per charge. Since the competition is not sleeping, however, Tesla is following up with a new generation: the Tesla S Plaid +. Alongside a facelift, refreshing the look of its classically elegant design, the new package also adds a third e-motor at the rear, supplementing the all-wheel drive and delivering extra handling and critical extra horsepower. In the Plaid + high-performance option, the sports saloon achieves a top performance of 1100 hp, acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.1 seconds and a top speed of 322 km/h – impressive figures. What’s more, Tesla is fitting a battery with an estimated range of 837 kilometres. Whether the seriously purist, angular steering wheel will make it to series production is not yet known. Conversely, Tesla’s software package with active cruise control from motorway access to motorway exit comes as standard. Price: at least EUR 140,000.
Powerful wings, a wickedly sloping roof and angular forms – the e-tron Gran Turismo shows where the design adventure at Audi is heading. With its noticeably low and muscular construction, the sports saloon is an instant eye-catcher, while the radiator grille and the horizontal signature lights at the rear leave you in no doubt as to the origins of this e-car – it is classic Audi design. That said, this pinnacle of electromobility from the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer actually incorporates a goodly sprinkling of Porsche engineering: the drive, chassis and floor assembly plus battery originate from the Porsche Taycan. The e-tron GT also shares its aerodynamic design with it, such as the drop-shaped rear or the air curtains on the front flanks, guiding the air past the aerodynamically-housed wheels and ensuring a lower drag resistance rating. The muscular proportions of the outer skin continue in the interior. Here the impressive sweep of its three-dimensional dashboard fills out the low-slung driver’s cabin. The centre console, dashboard, seats and roof are covered in leather, while charcoal detailing, piano black trim and ambient lighting lend the design a noble touch, allowing the Gran Turismo to fully live up to its image as a sports tourer. The estimated range of 488 kilometres (WLTP) also makes the e-car viable for long-distance travel. Acceleration (4.1 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h) and power (476 hp) are slightly lower than in the Taycan. DC rapid recharging is at up to 270 kW (while AC charging is at 11 kW ).
The S-class is the Mercedes flagship. On the road since 1972, it has established a reputation for itself worldwide for trailblazing engineering and as an elegant luxury saloon. As the EQS, it is also being marketed this year for the first time with a fully-electric drive, and surprising admirers with an unusual design that combines futuristic forms with elements typical of Mercedes. The dominating design principle: aerodynamics – a speciality of the German manufacturer, which even operates its own wind tunnel in Sindelfingen. However, the sleek “one bow” silhouette is not just a matter of good looks: with a range of over 700 kilometres, the EQS can achieve similar distances to its fully-fuelled, combustion-engined predecessor on a single battery charge. At the same time, the streamlined form minimises airflow noise, meaning that the luxury saloon travels not just stylishly and efficiently, but also exceptionally quietly – and without needing to cut corners when it comes to performance. Although official data for the production model is not yet available, the planned 476 hp, top speed of over 200 km/h and acceleration from zero to 100 km/h in under five seconds would suggest that the Mercedes flagship is suitably well-powered. When it comes to driver comfort, Mercedes is planning to equip the car with Level 3 driver assistance. That means the EQS should independently steer, brake, start up, keep to its lane and maintain its speed, without the driver needing to constantly monitor the vehicle! The fast chargers should fuel the battery to an 80 per cent charge within 20 minutes.
[E-mobility from California has so far had only one big name: Tesla. But challenger Lucid Motors sees the longstanding market leader now coming in for serious competition. For example, the start-up – still relatively unknown in Europe – has set itself the goal of building a demonstration vehicle for the whole sector with its Lucid Air sports saloon. So how is that to be achieved? As an automotive supplier, Lucid Motors has been familiar with the development of batteries and electric drivetrains since 2007. On top of that, many of the engineers at Lucid have worked previously at Tesla, including Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson, formerly Chief Engineer for Tesla boss Elon Musk. In the highest-performance model, called Air Dream, Rawlinson is aiming to achieve impressive figures such as a top speed of 270 km/h, acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds, and a range of 750 kilometres (figures not yet official). That would see the Lucid Air falling narrowly short of the performance figures for Tesla’s Model S Plaid +, but with a 34” driver display extending from the outer edge of the dashboard to the centre console, the luxury saloon is nevertheless set to attract attention. Further highlights are the voice assistant system using Alexa software, “over-the-air updates ” (similar to Tesla) and an exceptionally purist design. The starting price for the Air Dream in the USA is likely to be around US$ 169,000. Cheaper options are set to follow in subsequent years.
(Stage photo: © Lucid Motors)
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