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A guide to automotive luxury

by Rabih Ibrahim

We’re approaching that time of year when, after having worked hard for the past eleven months, your mind starts to drift to what you will be rewarding yourself with come December. While several options come to mind – perhaps a mini vacation or some special timepiece – none have the same effect as a brand new shiny vehicle. That new car smell, those buttery soft leather seats, the glint of sunlight on chrome, are all hard not to think about as you contemplate a future gift to yourself. To help you make this important decision, Executive Life has rounded up 2017’s top car models; from panther-like SUVs to adventurous sports cars, we’ve got all the advice you need to make the perfect choice.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-54-04-pmAston Martin DB11

Nothing blends style and power better than an Aston Martin, and no car is more of an elaborate testimonial to this than the DB11, which merges both elements into a sophisticated work of art. Style-wise, the DB11 redefines the relationship between form and function with just a few design signatures, such as the front-hinging clamshell bonnet, the distinctive LED headlights and the accentuated lines of the Aston Martin grille. Its interior features wider door apertures, increased passenger space – especially head and legroom in the rear – fully integrated rear ISOFIX mounting points for a pair of child seats, plus a spacious luggage compartment, making the DB11 a family car with a stylish twist. Powered by a potent new in-house designed 5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine, the DB11 derives its power from being built on a lighter, stronger and more space-saving bonded aluminum structure. With the DB11, Aston Martin can once again claim its place as a leading brand in the luxury automotive market, and you can claim it for your own if you hurry to the dealership.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-55-17-pmAudi R8 V10 Plus Coupe  

Audi usually designs everyday cars, the cars you choose to elegantly transport yourself around town. Yet the Audi R8 definitely does not look like your everyday car; more like a powerful super car one would only drive at lightning speed with the engine roaring. With the R8, Audi has managed to design the everyday supercar: a vehicle you would be as comfortable racing as you would be driving to the grocery store. To begin with, the Audi R8, despite its sharp creases, carbon fiber accents and mid-engine layout, is not as flashy as your average supercar, hence the everyday appeal. This is not to say that it doesn’t have a cohesive design (characterized by piercing LED headlights and taillights, a lavish wheel design and an angular body) that makes it instantly recognizable as an Audi. The Audi R8 combines the subtlety and comfort of an Audi with the sheer power and swagger of a supercar, carving its way into the serious and young-at-heart.  

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-55-05-pmBMW X1

The BMW X1 reminds us all that good things can come in small packages. Indeed, there is something charming and endearing about the X1 that no X5 or 6 can deliver. It has all the special features that are expected of BMWs, such as fast, responsive steering and a taut suspension, but on a smaller scale that will make you equally proud of stepping out of the car when you arrive to your dinner. The X1 sees BMW introduce front-wheel drive, freeing up more space in the car’s interior, along with other features such as positioning the engine in an east-west layout. As as result, the backseat gains comfort and legroom, while space in the trunk is also increased, making the BMW X1 a compact car that packs a lot of punch.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-54-58-pmJaguar F Pace

Jaguar drivers are traditionally the elites of the world. They are the ambassador and the prime minister, the “your highness” and the “your excellency.” The Jaguar F Pace is here to prove that these elites can also have a life beyond their official duties. These officials might be serious people, but seeing them leave their very demanding yet rather stodgy jobs in a dashing F Pace will make you think they might be heading skiing or scuba diving – it’s the car that shows off the wild streak under all that business attire. Whether you are young at heart or simply young, the Jaguar F Pace captures the evolution of a lifestyle from responsible and serious at work to curious and fun-seeking after hours.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-54-41-pmLexus RX

There’s a new Lexus RX on the block, and a quick look at its daring lines reveals it’s edgier and more focused than ever before. The RX represents the most adventurous Lexus crossover to date. With some noteworthy tech and performance upgrades, the RX 2017 is far more driver-centric than previous models, yet it still provides all the comfort, quiet and versatility that fans of this five-passenger luxury crossover expect. A slightly larger exterior than the previous RX gives this model more interior space, meaning more legroom and an airier feel. Despite its daring looks, the RX’s safety features are as sophisticated as ever, and include a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection and lane departure warning with steering assist. The Lexus RX is not only a car that makes you look good, it also has your back. 

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-54-31-pmMaserati Levante

Some people enjoy wearing or driving peu porté, taking pleasure in the knowledge that they are among the select few to enjoy them. If you are one of those people, who don’t want to be mainstream but instead prefer to distinguish yourself through what you drive, then Maserati’s Levante is the car for you. Yet, for all its exclusivity and pedigree (it’s been producing cars for 102 years and counting), the Maserati doesn’t come with a peu porté price tag. This is not to say it’s a cheap car, but considering its sophisticated design, which reveals itself through the tiniest of details such as fine leather seats, wood and carbon fiber trimmings, and its seamless blending of the performance-oriented features of a sports car (50-50 percent weight distribution to name one) with the off-road capabilities of an SUV (electronically controlled Skyhook shock absorbers), you can  rest assured you are getting great value for your big bucks.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-54-49-pmMercedes GLC Coupé

Lebanon has a long standing love affair with Mercedes, but when it comes to an affluent young person who’s about to choose their first car, Mercedes isn’t what typically comes to mind. Perhaps it’s too easily associated with their parents’ stately yet sedate model in the garage. It may be time for the statesman model to make way however, because the Mercedes GLC Coupé has arrived and it’s the car that every young person dreams of driving. With a standard-fit sports suspension and more direct sports steering, the GLC Coupé is among the sportiest of the Mercedes Benz SUVs, an element which certainly appeals to the young family man or woman. Design wise, the GLC Coupé also impresses. The harmony between the distinctive design worlds of coupé and SUV is highlighted by the side view of the 1.60 meter-high SUV with its characteristic, stretched roofline of a sports coupé. Visually and functionally, the GLC Coupe may not be your parents’ car, but it might just be the car for you – the dynamic young parent.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-54-13-pmMINI Clubman

The MINI Cooper is a very personal car, a compact vehicle that you drive around town, rarely taking anyone along for the ride. It is a car you treat yourself with when you are single. But what happens when you start a family, yet still want to enjoy the experience of driving a compact and trendy MINI? You opt for the Clubman. The Clubman is the less selfish version of the MINI. The latest Clubman is 28 centimeters longer than the four-door Cooper hardtop and seven centimeters wider, and, believe us, every one of those extra centimeters matter. There is now room for four to five adults to sit comfortably in the Clubman and to store their luggage as well (in the cargo hold that is double the capacity of the hardtop). While retaining the compact and modern look of the MINI Cooper, the MINI Clubman is a super MINI, a versatile car that the whole family can appreciate, just as they appreciate the super mom or dad driving it.  

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-53-53-pmRange Rover Evoque Convertible

Not only is it fresh, young, dynamic and sporty, but it’s also a Range Rover and a convertible! The Range Rover Evoque Convertible combines the bold design and elegance of the typical Evoque, with inclusive specifications and a folding roof to create a convertible that takes care of business in all seasons. The Evoque Convertible is a joy to look at. Its funky exterior design is highlighted by a special one-of-a-kind fabric roof shaped to create a crisply defined silhouette that remains faithful to the original design. Its Z-fold mechanism lays flush with the rear bodywork for a sleek, uncluttered appearance when lowered. As the first ever Range Rover convertible, the Evoque Convertible enjoys all the traditional luxury of the Range Rover, along with a distinctive four seat design and versatile storage, giving you enough room to pack all your beach gear. So if you don’t want to give up all the off-road advantages of an SUV, but still want to feel the night air blowing through your hair while you cruise Lebanon’s highways, then look no further than the Range Rover Evoque Convertible.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-53-30-pmVolvo XC90 Excellence

The Volvo XC90 Excellence is most aptly described as a silent star. Long known as the safest car manufacturer in the world, Volvo has lately significantly invested in design, evolving their image into a trendier, more luxurious brand that would appeal to a younger generation. The XC90 Excellence is the fruit of that labor. The XC90’s design is fresh and dynamic, with features such as super comfortable, individually adjustable rear seats and a Bowers & Wilkins sound system, yet it still maintains Volvo’s impeccable reputation for solidness and safety. These factors make it the obvious choice for young families. The promise of safety and reliability, which all parents look for in the vehicle that will be transporting their children, is there, yet the edginess and features of the new design make it as sexy as the parent driving their children to school. It is an attractive ride that makes heads turn, while making sure yours is safe.

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