Yearender 2020 special: The worst luxury cars launched this year

  • The automobile industry involves making smart choices, taking good risks, and planning for the future in order to deliver to the customers.
File Image: Jaguar F type R convertible (Bloomberg Quint)
File Image: Jaguar F type R convertible

(Note - this is a Bloomberg opinion piece)

The problem with writing an annual retrospective on the luxury cars that should have been better in 2020 is that the worst of them weren’t actuallybad, they werejust forgettable. Or underwhelming.

Also check these Cars

Find more Cars
Mercedes-benz Maybach Gls (HT Auto photo)
Engine Icon3982.0 cc FuelType IconPetrol
₹ 2.43 Cr
Mercedes-benz Gls (HT Auto photo)
Engine Icon2999 cc FuelType IconMultiple
₹ 1.32 - 1.37 Cr
View Offers
Mercedes-benz Eqe (HT Auto photo)
BatteryCapacity Icon90.56 kWh Range Icon550 Km
₹ 1.39 Cr
Mercedes-benz Eqa (HT Auto photo)
BatteryCapacity Icon66.5 kWh Range Icon426 Km
₹ 60 Lakhs
Alert Me When Launched
Mercedes-benz Eqs (HT Auto photo)
BatteryCapacity Icon107.8 kwh Range Icon580 km
₹ 1.55 Cr
Mercedes-benz Gla (HT Auto photo)
Engine Icon1950 cc FuelType IconMultiple
₹ 50.50 - 56.90 Lakhs
View Offers

When you consider that the worst cars in past decades would actually break down, blow up, orimpale you upon impact, complaining about being forgettable or underwhelming is, well, quite a luxury. These days, pointing out dowdy looks or chintzy interiors is the ultimate insult.

The more interesting,more tellingquestion really is which car companies fared well in 2020, which made smart choices, took good risks, listened to consumers, did well in the equity markets, and planned for the future, and which didn’t. Stay tuned.That list is coming next.

Until then, here are three autos that failed to deliver that extra oomph during this year’s batches of test drives. (Keep in mind that we at Pursuits review luxury brands, so this is admittedly rare air to begin with.)

Biggest Disappointment: Mercedes-Maybach GLS

File image: Mercedes Benz Maybach GLS 600
File image: Mercedes Benz Maybach GLS 600

I wanted this one to blow my socks off. A 558-horsepowerSUV! That costs $161,550! From a brand that Jay-Z raps about! The 111-year-old Maybach brand heritage is ripe for leveraging to consumers who love automotive nostalgia done right. Finally, I thought, something to compete directly against the really excellent Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Bentley Bentayga.

Boy, was I wrong.

The Mercedes-Maybach GLS falls into the unfortunate middle ground of neitherfast nor truly elegant. (It’s far slower than the 750-horsepower, $219,000 Lamborghini SUV and not as old-world stately as the Cullinan.)

Sure, the first-ever SUV from Mercedes-Maybach has a driving style as smooth as duck butter and an elegant, technologically advanced interior that can feel alternatingly like a spa or a nightclub, depending on passenger preference. But so does the wonderful, more discrete Mercedes-Maybach S-Class sedan. In fact, once ensconced in this SUV, I would forget I was even in anything more special than an S-Class until my eye caught one of the Maybach logos emblazoned across my confines.

Also Read : Mercedes AMG GLC 43 Coupe drive review: Performance now Made in India

My feeling is: If you have to have a bunch of logos to remind you the car is “special," it isn’t.

Also: The exterior of the SUV was eviscerated on my social media for looking decidedly not special, with comparisons to Volvos and other lesser-priced vehicles. With seating for only four in the most luxurious variant of the vehicle, despite its massive size, I wondered why, when the decidedly cooler S-Class already exists, anyone would buy this vehicle in the first place.

Most Forgettable: Jaguar F-Type R Convertible

File Image: Jaguar F type R convertible (Bloomberg Quint)
File Image: Jaguar F type R convertible (Bloomberg Quint)

When it debuted in 2015, I praised the Jaguar F-Type for its sensible design and fair pricing. It also was a lot of fun to drive. Since then, the F-Type has been surpassed by competition from Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes, all of which have lately turned out some exceptional sports coupes and convertibles. Even Aston Martin still makes pretty cars,if you know how to spec them right.

But as I wrote in areview in July,the F-Type lacks the impulsion, handling, and build quality to be competitive within its set.

The F-Type did offer some updates: new bumpers, thinner LED headlights, and a glossy black “Jaguar leaper" badge. It added a 12.3-inch control screen in the plastic-feeling interior. From behind the wheel, the F-Type could be described as adequate and safe and fine.

But these are not appropriate descriptors for what should be an exciting and elegant sports car.Kevin Tynan, senior auto analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, agrees. “Even as great and as much as I like the F-Type, it’s like, ‘Which one is that again?’" he said by phone Thursday. “It almost seems like they didn’t even try to fix it. It’s still very nondescript. I’m not sure what target they’re trying to hit with that brand anymore."

Also Read : Hypothetical hypercar: Jaguar Vision GT SV breaks cover

Considering the $84,900 sticker price of the model I drove, I needed something more, too.

Most Overhyped: Porsche 911 Speedster

File image: Porsche 911 Speedster (Bloomberg quint)
File image: Porsche 911 Speedster (Bloomberg quint)

When this car debuted as a concept in 2018, it was exciting to see:the return of open-top driving for Porsche on the occasion of the “70 years of Porsche Sports Cars" anniversary in Zuffenhausen, Germany. The one-off vehicle,shown in two-tone paint and “heritage" trimmings, linked early cars from the company founded by professor Ferdinand Porsche in 1948 and lightweight Speedster variants of the Porsche 356to today’s models.

But it wasn’t until 2020 that Porsche got around to letting journalists drive one; by that time the car seemed out of date. (The old infotainment system from the previous 911 generation in particular seemed outdated, compared to the fresh new technology in the next-generation 911.)

Eager owners had alreadybought them, with some already flipped on the gray market. The car probably would have shone more if there weren’t so many other great Porsche carslaunched this year. (After all, the brand put out a whopping total of 33in 2020).

Also Read : Porsche unveils all-new 2021 911 GT3 Cup racing car with 510 horsepower

After the exciting electric Taycan variants and the terrific Panamera Sport Turismo and exceptional new 911 Turbo S that all came to market this year, plus the prospect of a new 911 GT3 in early 2021, the now-irrelevant Speedster felt woefully behind the times—and not yet old enough to be cool again.

First Published Date: 21 Dec 2020, 10:24 AM IST

Check Latest Offers

Please provide your details to get Personalized Offers

Choose city
+91 | Choose city
Choose city

Want to get the best price for your existing car?

Powered by: Spinny Logo
By clicking "View Offers" you Agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy
Dear Name

Please verify your mobile number.

+91 | Choose city
Couldn't verify the OTP.
It's either expired or it's incorrect.