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Speed is still an automotive obsession but where the power comes from in the new crop of cars arriving for 2019 may vary. Electric motors will vie with the traditional internal combustion engines for the fast track. But new and old technologies don’t necessarily have to butt heads as car makers also move to marry the two for unique models that reap the benefits of both.
Audi e-tron SUV
One of the most anticipated vehicles set to debut in 2019 is the new all-electric e-tron SUV from Audi. A key aspect of the design is a sporty-looking rear end that highlights the absence of tailpipes. At the top of the innovation list is a brake regeneration system designed to add 30 percent more range compared to other electric vehicles.
A very “green” feature is a system that uses waste heat from electrical components to warm the cabin. Electric motors are off-the-mark quick so 60 mph arrives in 5.5 seconds, very respectable in a mid-sized SUV. Top speed is 124 mph. Look for it in the second quarter starting at $74,800.
Aston Martin DBC Superleggera
The Aston Martin DBC Superleggera is a brute in a suit. Visually, it’s easy to see why the brand still calls to mind James Bond in a tuxedo. But beneath the handsome carbon fiber exterior is a staggeringly powerful 715 horsepower V12 engine with a top speed of 211 mph managed by an eight-speed gearbox.
Think zero to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. And yes, like Bond, the Superleggera is a little bit dangerous in that there is an exceptional amount of torque available so the car can get away from you if you’re not prepared for it. $304.995.
Mercedes Benz CLS450
What separates the Mercedes Benz CLS450 four-door sedan from its peers is an electrical innovation called EQ Boost. The car has ample power thanks to a turbocharged V6 engine with 362 horsepower. But EQ Boost adds an extra 21 horsepower from an electric motor for smooth, quick acceleration, circumventing the momentary “turbo lag” sometimes experienced as the turbocharger kicks in.
Ride quality is so superb you’ll be forgiven if you mistake this car for a higher priced E-class model. Starting at $75,150.
Cadillac XT4 Compact SUV
The new Cadillac XT4 marks the marque's entry into the small SUV segment, and it's worth taking note of if second-row seating capacity is a concern: it’s pretty roomy back there. The XT4 is powered by a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 237 horsepower governed by a smooth-shifting nine-speed transmission.
The all-wheel-drive version includes front-wheel-drive-only gas-saving mode. The XT4 is a sensible drive and handles like a larger SUV for a secure feeling behind the wheel. $40,290.
Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Hybrid
The Volvo S60 T8 Hybrid makes lusting after a plug-in electric sedan perfectly understandable. Tweaked by Polestar, Volvo’s racing wing, the result is an exceptional driving experience deserving of the special white Polestar badge on the grille.
The car is very fluid, flowing through corners and then surging forward on demand thanks to 415 horsepower available. The interior is cool and smart, accented by gold safety belts. But like anything worth lusting over, the Polestar edition is hard to get: only 20 will be available in 2019. $54,800.
Jaguar XE SC Project 8
If you think a car with four doors can’t perform like a supercar, then the Jaguar XE SC Project 8 will change your mind.
The British car maker’s Special Vehicle Operations unit fine-tuned the basic model by improving the aerodynamics and adding a supercharged V8 engine that produces 592 horsepower for a 200 mph top speed and a quick zero to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. Needless to say, there is a track driving mode. $187,500.
Rolls Royce Cullinan SUV
There is a perverse pleasure in getting a Rolls Royce dirty, but that’s part of the allure for the English marque’s new Cullinan SUV. Going rough is simple—just press the off-road button on the console to raise the suspension, and the Cullinan handles the rest.
The Cullinan is a beauty inside and out, but it’s what you can’t see that may matter most. Lots of power for this big vehicle comes courtesy of a V12 engine with 570 horsepower. Engineering touches like two front anti-roll bars in the front, and one in the rear provide a smooth ride marked by surprising agility.
The Cullinan is the brand’s first SUV, so it’s a historic debut. But the Cullinan gives new meaning to the phrase “filthy rich.” $325,000.
It’s a crime how few Bugatti cars are made. The new Divo is limited to just 40. All Bugatti cars are superfast—the Divo tops out at 236 mph—but the Divo is specially tuned for cornering so you can enjoy performance driving without exceeding the speed limit three times over.
It’s also amazing how the French carmaker marries function and design. The roof, for example, also works as an air duct to cool the engine. $5.7 million.
Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
The design of the Italian car maker’s new flagship sports car is recognizably Lamborghini but you may not have much time to savor its good looks as the Aventador SVJ hits 60mph in an astonishing 2.8 seconds thanks to a 770 horsepower V12 engine.
The sports car features four-wheel-drive and four-wheel steering so grip and handling are exact. Only 900 will be made. $517,770
The 2019 Audi A7 moves between light and darkness like a magic spell thanks to an innovative exterior design that mixes reflections and shadows so it feels like the car is seen only in glimpses. The sloping roofline adds a coupe-like look but also conceals a lot of versatility: the Sportback design means there is a lot of easily-accessed cargo space and the seating is sedan-sized spacious. Behind the wheel, the all-wheel-drive A7 performs with gravity and firmness but the 335-horsepower V6 engine purrs like a sports car when pushed and hits 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. Inside the comfortable cabin, high touch-screen resolution displays control amenities while a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that alters torque as road conditions change. $74,090 as driven. www.audiusa.com