A brave new world needs brave new electric warriors.
A new category for the 2021 CarBuzz Awards, Electrified Luxury was born to celebrate the massive number of new electric luxury cars that have come to market in the last 12 months. While it currently includes both hybrid and pure electric rivals, we predict it to be one of the strongest categories in years to come.
Since we're talking high-end cars, we expect these vehicles to be nothing short of spectacular. We're looking for a quiet, refined cabin with the latest technology topped with a layer of the highest quality materials. Most important of all, these cars need to work in the urban jungle, and they should be able to hustle along a canyon without drama.
The competitors in this new segment include the Volvo V60 Polestar Engineered, the Polestar 2, Karma GS-6, and Porsche Panamera E-hybrid. That's an impressive line-up of cars, and the three finalists aren't even included yet.
The three finalists in no particular order are:
If you want to be pedantic about it, the RS e-tron GT is a Porsche Taycan in a more elegant suit. Describing it as such is mighty unfair because it's so much more than that. In many ways, the Audi has the upper hand. Not when it comes to power, however. The Audi's twin-motor setup produces 590 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque, increasing to 637 hp for short bursts. The Taycan Turbo provides up to 670 hp and 626 lb-ft of torque. As a result, the Porsche sprints to 60 mph in three seconds flat, while the Audi takes 3.1 seconds. Trust us when we say you won't notice the difference.
There are other departments where to two cars are significantly different. Porsche gave the Taycan a more sports car-like setup, while Audi went the grand touring route. While the front end isn't as razor-sharp, the Audi has broader appeal. It can be sporty, but it does refinement and harmony equally well. It's also absolutely stunning to look at. Possibly Audi's best looking car in years.
The i4 doesn't go out of its way to tell other road users that it's electric. It looks almost the same as a standard 4 Series Gran Coupe, right down to the contentious grille.
There are two models available, but the M50 is the one you want. It's not a full-fat M product, but it does have two electric motors producing 536 hp and 586 lb-ft of torque. BMW says it will sprint to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, making it faster than a RWD M4 and a smidgen slower than the AWD M4. In both cases, you won't be able to tell the difference. And it does so while being cheaper than both gas-powered M4s. It's also uncomfortably close in performance to the $140k + RS e-tron GT mentioned above.
For us, the i4 changed our perception on electric performance, and if our first taste of an electric M car is anything to go by, the future ain't half bad.
The Rivian is a finalist in three categories. Its importance to the automotive industry is impossible to understate. It doesn't just change the way we think about pickup trucks, but also the way we think about off-roading, letting you get closer to nature rather than scaring it away when you're venturing into the middle of nowhere.
Put simply; the R1T is the first EV available in America's favorite body style. Rivian beat Tesla and Ford to it, which is a colossal achievement in itself.
The Rivian is equipped with four electric motors, producing 800 hp and 900 lb-ft of torque. It gets to 60 mph in less than four seconds, yet it will happily crawl along in the suburbs as you wave smugly at your Tesla-driving neighbors. It's practical as well, with a claimed 314-mile range and a towing capacity of 11,000 lbs. That's right up there with the current best-selling trucks in the USA.
It hits all the right notes for performance, luxury, practicality, and importantly, it isn't a piece of vaporware.