It is not even Labor Day, and the news have been full of significant product unveiling.
Significant? In a global health crisis?
Yes, significant. At least significant in my eyes. Three new vehicles were unveiled virtually that could tip some balances in the automotive business.
Then again, I could be exaggerating…
Consider who is doing the unveiling – Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz, and Jeep. Three long-awaited new vehicles that represent three iconic model names. Two of which are new generation models. The third is the resurrection of a long-running nameplate.
It started on September 1 with the unveiling of the new generation Rolls-Royce Ghost. The longest-running nameplate in the British marque's history, the “driver’s” sedan is now built off of the latest spaceframe platform underpinning the current Phantom flagship and the Cullinan SUV.
The result is a lighter weight sedan constructed of aluminum with a cleaner body construction. Power will come from a 571-horsepower twin-turbocharged V12 engine with standard all-wheel-drive. The Ghost will feature a four-wheel steering system designed for better handling and cornering.
While some would say that the design is more evolutionary, a few details will point otherwise. In fact, Rolls-Royce hailed their Ghost as "minimalist." The lighting units are pushed to the edges to exemplify width, while reimaging the Pantheon grille towards aerodynamics with available LED backlighting. The rear end is more aerodynamic, while maintaining its "three-box" sedan format. The doors still open from the B-pillar outward in classic Rolls-Royce style, with electric assist for opening and closing.
Inside is more modern. The starlight headliner now features a shooting star effect, while you will find more stars on the passenger side of the dashboard. The instrumentation is more digital within analog-like dials, while continuing the theme of using the finest materials to create a bespoke atmosphere. The open-pore wood trim is no longer encased in lacquer.
In all, the Rolls-Royce Ghost will set the tone for the next-generation Dawn and Wraith, as both should be expected to be built on its newest platform.
The next day, Mercedes-Benz introduced the newest generation of the S-Class flagship. The company has been touting their flagship sedan as all-new from the ground up – including the new plant in Sindelfingen, Germany.
Every S-Class that had been introduced usually carries a lot of weight for the Three-Pointed Star brand. It is the vehicle where the company can show off its latest engineering and technology that will eventually make its way into all of its model lineup. In this case, the S-Class offered up its next-generation Mercedes-Benz User Experience designed to be more interactive and intuitive across all functions and throughout the sedan. It is worth noting a major change in interior design – the switch to a large "floating" center stack for the MBUX infotainment head unit.
Design-wise, the rear end switches to a horizontal taillight arrangement seen across the lineup. Yet, the basic shape and presence is still evident. There is also another push towards improved driver assistance, with a new side-impact protection that lifts the car up and a self-parking feature that can do a 90-degree maneuver into a space.
Mercedes-Benz claims that the new generation S-Class is "more than just a car." They tout that it will "take care of you." It sounds like Mercedes-Benz wants to share the driving duties with you – but, not so fast! What they achieved is a next-level flagship that wants to interact with everyone inside the cabin while providing an advanced sensation of driving.
Then, finally, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles took off the wraps of their Wagoneer flagship SUV. The Grand Wagoneer Concept shows us what FCA had in mind for a large luxury model – moreover, a “lineup” that goes beyond the Jeep brand.
The vehicle looks very premium while creating a paean to the original Wagoneers from the 1960s. However, it goes well beyond that with lots of LED lighting signatures and the lack of the Jeep badge anywhere on the concept. Inside looks like a demonstration of the ultimate capabilities of the new UConnect 5 infotainment system with screens stretching from the driver to the front and second row passengers. And, yes, this is designed to be a three-row SUV from the onset.
The Wagoneer lineup would be offered with three four-wheel-drive systems, independent suspension all around, an available air suspension, and an additional plug-in hybrid down the line. It some of this sounds familiar, it is because the vehicle is developed off of the Ram 1500 pickup truck and produced at the Warren truck plant near Detroit. There was no mention of engines at this point.
Still, FCA is making a concerted effort towards positioning the Wagoneer lineup for a very discriminating customer that demands a new level of luxury beyond what General Motors, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, and Toyota currently offers in the large SUV space. It is also waving the flag of the country of origin – 80 years after the first "Jeep" was sent on a reconnaissance mission during World War II.
All three of these debuts from Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz, and Jeep point to the notion that luxury will be raised to another level through technology designed to elevate the driving experience. In essence, the future may be brighter than we think. Maybe a bit more elegant in a high tech way.
Cover photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars/BMW Group