New Model News

2021 Audi RS 5 Coupe, Sportback get exterior design, technology updates

For the 2021 model year, the RS 5 Coupe and Sportback have received a mid-cycle update and gotten special edition options.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG
Fresh looks and new special editions are on tap for the 2021 Audi RS 5 Coupe and Sportback. The two models also get the company's new infotainment system as part of their mid-cycle refresh.

The refined refined exterior of the models brings them in line with the latest design in the Audi lineup. The Singleframe grille is flatter, wheel arches are wider, and the LED headlights are standard. At the back are new pentagon-shaped, contoured inlets. The more confident stance further differentiates the RS 5 from the A5 and S5.

2021 Audi RS 5 Coupe and Sportback The 2021 Audi RS 5 Coupe and Sportback Black Optic special edition model will feature a black roof.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Horizontal lines dominate the interior of the RS 5. Standard honeycomb stitched S sport seats with RS embossing include power side bolsters and massage function, and are covered in fine Nappa leather, along with the center console and door armrests. The RS 5 Sportback is also now standard equipped with heated rear seats.

At the center of each model is now the 10.1-inch infotainment screen, which runs using the MIB3 operating system. That system allows for standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, among other capabilities. Special RS displays provide information on tire pressure and temperature, torque, power output, engine oil temperature, boost pressure, lap times, acceleration measurements and g-forces. The optional head-up display also offers an exclusive RS display mode.

All RS 5 Coupe and Sportback cars feature the automaker's 2.9-liter bi-turbo V6 engine that creates 444 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. The Coupe can get from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds while the Sportback takes 3.8 seconds. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The company's RS sport suspension is standard. With the available Dynamic package, the RS sport suspension with the Dynamic Ride Control uses steel springs and adjustable dampers to increase the support and reduce pitch and roll movements to improve the vehicle's overall driving dynamics.

2021 Aud RS 5 Ascari launch edition

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi will sell the models in two new variants: the Ascari launch edition and the Black Optic launch edition. Both have unique exterior and interior design elements that set them apart from the flock.

The Ascari model has Ascari Blue metallic paint, bue brake calipers and ceramic front brakes, 20-inch five-arm-flag design forged wheels in silver finish with summer performance tires, carbon fiber trimmed engine cover, three-spoke flat-bottom steering wheel in Alcantara with shift paddles, Audi dynamic steering which offers a variable steering ratio that adjusts based on vehicle speed and the Audi drive select setting, painted matte alu optic side sill inlays, RS Carbon matte inlays, RS design package interior with gray contrast stitching, RS sport suspension plus with Dynamic Ride Control, RS sport exhaust system with black tailpipes, the driver assistance package, and the navigation package. Just 25 Coupe and 100 Sportback versions of the car will be made.

The Black Optic model's features list is slightly different and includes more options for buyers. It starts with 20-inch five-segment-spoke-evo design wheels in high-gloss black finish with summer performance tires. Buyers can choose from Mythos Black, Glacier White, Daytona Gray, Nardo Gray, or Tango Red paint colors. Black details extend from the Audi rings and badges to the room (excludes Mythos Black), mirror housings, front spoiler, and rear diffuser trim. It has the same steering wheel as the Ascari model and also features dynamic steering.

Audi has given the RS 5 Black Optic a dynamic package that includes red brake calipers, RS sport suspension with Dynamic Ride Control, and the RS sport exhaust system with black tailpipes. It also features RS Carbon matte inlays, RS design package interior with red contrast stitching, the driver assistance package, and the navigation package.

Slightly more of these will be made - 100 Coupe and 325 Sportback models.

All RS 5 models come standard equipped with Audi pre sense city and lane departure warning. The available side assist package adds Audi pre sense rear, Audi side assist, and matte alu optic exterior mirror housings. The available RS driver assistance package adds adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, active lane assist with hands on detection steering wheel, park assist, top view camera system, and head-up display with traffic sign recognition.

The 2021 Audi RS 5 Coupe starts at $75,100. The 2021 Audi RS 5 Sportback starts at $75,400. Special edition pricing ranges from $87,400 for the 2021 Audi RS 5 Coupe Black optic launch edition to $95,900 for the 2021 Audi RS 5 Sportback Ascari launch edition. The price excludes a $1,405 designation charge.

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The Porsche Panamera lineup has finally fully been revealed.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The 2021 Porsche Panamera lineup has been completed with the announcement of two new models, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid and Panamera 4 E-Hybrid. They join the Panamera 4S E-Hybrid as a trio of Panamera PHEVs for 2021. Each is available in regular, Sport Turismo, and Executive body styles.

The 2021 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is the new flagship in the stable. It boasts an exceptional 689 horsepower and 642 pound-feet of torque. Porsche has engineered the flagship to get a combined a 563-horsepower 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with a 134-horsepower electric motor, paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Its 17.9-kilowatt-hour battery is shared with the Panamera 4S E-Hybrid.

2021 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The flagship model comes standard with Porsche's Sport Chrono package. The equipment helps the traditionally-bodied Panamera get from zero to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds while the Executive wheelbase model takes one-tenth of a second longer. The Turbo S E-Hybrid sedan and Sport Turismo also offer the quickest acceleration from 0 to 124 mph of any 2021 Panamera at 10.9 seconds. It has a top track speed of 196 mph, a 4 mph improvement over the 2020 model.

Every 2021 Panamera Panamera 4 E-Hybrid has the same electric motor setup as the flagship. It pairs the motor with a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 for a total system output of 455 horsepower, an increase of 12 horsepower over the 4S model. It too has an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The 2021 Panamera 4 E-Hybrid takes just 4.2 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standing start and has a top speed of 174 mph. Both of those numbers improve on the 2020 version of the same model.

Both models feature the freshly redesigned interior and exterior of the Panamera. This includes the Porsche Communication Management infotainment operating system, which now features a higher display resolution and includes additional digital functions and services like Voice Pilot online voice control and wireless Apple CarPlay.

The Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid family tree has a starting price of $103,800 for the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid. The previous Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive topping out the lineup at $198,100. Pricing for the new models has yet to be revealed, but it's safe to expect it to be similar.

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The Cadillac Escalade is one of the most luxurious SUVs you can buy.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac has given the 2021 Escalade the tagline "Never stop arriving" which seems apropos for a full-size SUV that shows up in nearly every way. Having undergone a complete redesign, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade finds itself securely at the top of the company's lineup showcasing the high-tech features and plush accommodations buyers are looking for.

The three-row SUV is built on the same platform as the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, and the GMC Yukon at the General Motors Arlington Assembly plant outside of Dallas. The platform is ridged and good, allowing the Escalade and its brethren to take on corners at speed without fear of coffee spilling.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The Escalade continues to have a commanding presence on the street.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

That also means that it's big. Huge, in fact. But, the Escalade isn't so big it's unmanageable. Sure, you'll need a stepladder to see below the hood. But, how many Escalade owners are doing their own maintenance these days? Camera views help tremendously, as does safety technology.

As tested in the Premium Luxury trim, the two-wheel drive Escalade was powered by Cadillac's standard 6.2-liter V8 that's paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, a fresh addition to GM's offering list. The power plant delivers 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, just as it is in the SUV's full-size GM stablemates, and has the same SAE-certified horsepower and torque top-out points. It's a competent power plant but it works better in the Yukon Denali.

Why?

That's the big question. The two SUVs are nearly the same weight – pushing 5,800 pounds – and were similarly equipped underneath, as tested. Yet, the Escalade drove like it had a 1,000 pound-boulder strapped into the second row. It didn't feel as agile or swift as the Yukon, but also didn't give the feeling like you're towing when you're not.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The Escalade's imposing body style is not so large that it proves unmanageable. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Escalade was test driven back-to-back-to-back with other vehicles in its segment, the Yukon and the Ford Expedition, and it proved to be, hands down, the least maneuverable. Those poor limousine service drivers in L.A. are not going to enjoy working their way up, and then back down the snaked driveways of the Hollywood elite in this Cadillac.

However, once they get on the road and are able to sit back and relax a touch with their clientele all buckled up, they're going to enjoy the drive. The tester wasn't equipped with GM's Super Cruise, which is a hands-free driver assist technology, but the addition would be a welcome one as the lane keep assist isn't as proactive as other systems from other automakers, and the massive Caddy requires a driver's full attention to stay in the lane.

The 2021 Escalade's massive standard 38-inch OLED screen display area is the highlight of the interior and likely the biggest talking point of the vehicle. Its layout is sensical, proves to not be distracting while driving, and supplies just the right amount of information without going overkill on moving graphics.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The OLED display darkens to deep black at night, giving your drivers' eyes a rest.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The best part of the tech, which is actually made up of three separate screens under the same thin housing, is that it quickly and smoothly goes to near-black, giving drivers the least amount of distraction possible while on the road at night. Its resolution is twice the pixel density of a 4K television.

Though a minor issue, the screen's design does not allow for turn signal indicators to be easily seen as they are positioned directly behind the steering wheel rim. With the indicator's generally soft tone, it's easy to miss when an indicator remains on when exiting a roundabout or merging into traffic.

Surrounding the Escalade's screen are a variety of appointments, some of which feel and look luxurious while others do not. These are, however, typical General Motors product quibbles. The synthetic materials on the dashboard, and thin leather door inserts are not as luxe as what you'll find in SUVs made by Cadillac's rivals. Not that anyone will notice them for long with the OLED elephant in the room.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The layout of the OLED display is easy to understand and read on-the-fly. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Seats in the Escalade are comfortable, providing ample room. No matter the row, the upholstery is well-executed and the ride is sublime as the suspension easily soaks up the road's imperfections. It's a vehicle the aforementioned elite won't mind being seen in and will look forward to riding in.

Along with its comfortable seats and enough legroom in all three rows for adults, one of the best parts of the Escalade is its sound system. It's the first vehicle with an AKG system (offered with either 19 (standard) or 36 speakers), and it pairs the system with an already-quiet cabin. The sound is all-encompassing for front row occupants and musical elements are separated, coming at you like you're at a concert, rather than listening to a glossed-over recorded session. Turning it up, the quality of the sound is not lost. D-E-lightful.

Individual technology elements of the Escalade are why buyers should choose it over the Yukon and the Lincoln Navigator. The OLED display, Super Cruise, and AKG sound system make the Cadillac a step up from its competition even though its drive feels like a step down.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury Cadillac has made the seats of the Escalade comfortable and appointed them well. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Cadillac Escalade is pricey. As tested it was well over $85,000, and that's just a mid-grade model. The Escalade faces stiff competition from the Yukon Denali, which comes in at least $15,000 cheaper and delivers a better drive experience. The similarly priced Navigator is also an elegant option that's sure to be upgraded with Ford's hands-free driving technology in the not-too-distant future.

There may be a sleeper competitor on the horizon. The Jeep Grand Wagoneer is set to debut soon and will likely rival the Escalade with its sound system and elegant design, and come with a similar price tag.

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