Future Luxury Cars: Jaguar XJ, BMW 5/6 Series, and Infiniti Q60

Luxury machines from Britain, Germany, and Japan.

What We Know

The current XJ made a clean break from the upright and prim design of its predecessors, and we acknowledged the accomplishment by giving the longer, wider sedan our Design of the Year award for 2011. The next Jaguar XJ will be far less swoopy, returning to its roots as a classic three-box sedan. Its aluminum architecture, which will be used for both short- and long-wheelbase models, will feature adaptive air suspension and will be able to accommodate both rear- and all-wheel drive. A nine-speed automatic will likely be the transmission choice, and engines should include a turbo-four, a supercharged V-6, and a blown V-8 with R and RS variants. Expect a plug-in hybrid powertrain, too.

Why It Matters

Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class—great cars, all of them, but they're too conformist for some. The XJ has been and will continue to be an outlier in the world of luxury sedans with big back seats. The sales target for the Jag, which aims to be very British but also totally contemporary, is in the area of 30,000 units annually—less than a third of what the S-Class summons.

Potential Pitfalls

The usual suspects—patchy quality, ho-hum reliability, and dubious durability—could persist, and the next-generation XJ will also likely be behind its competition as far as autonomous-style driving features, scalable electromobility, and top-notch infotainment are concerned.

When to Expect It

The next Jaguar XJ, internally known as project X360, is due to enter production in late 2018 as a 2019 model.

BMW 5/6 Series

BMW's midsize sedan and its coupe counterpart will lose weight by employing more carbon fiber, high-strength steel, and aluminum, as well as magnesium and titanium pieces. The 5 Series will likely be available as a sedan, wagon, and Gran Turismo. The 6 Series will come in three body styles: coupe, cabriolet, and Gran Coupe. A turbocharged inline-four will put out about 250 hp, a turbo six-pot should deliver 350 hp, and a V-8 should be good for 475 hp. A diesel and a hybrid will also be available. The next M5 and M6 should come as standard with the 600-hp V-8 from the 30th anniversary M5.

Why It Matters

The 5 Series has long been one of our favorite sports sedans, but our eye has started to wander. The 5 Series isn't exactly the compact, engaging car we first fell in love with, and other cars in its competitive set have caught up. This retooling has us hopeful that we'll renew our affair with a lighter, more agile 5 Series and a sleeker, sexier 6 Series.

Potential Pitfalls

The A6, CTS, and E-Class have become really good cars, so it'll be difficult for the 5 to reclaim its crown.

When to Expect It

The revised BMW 5 and 6 Series should debut for the 2017 model year.

Infiniti Q60

When Infiniti first showed the Q60 concept at the Detroit auto show in January, the new coupe's flowing lines and dramatic presence piqued our interest—and the more we learned, the more we wanted to know. Its new twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V-6 will make around 400 horsepower, and rear-wheel drive is still on the menu. Infiniti's use of aluminum in the body structure means the car will be lighter than the Q50 sedan on which it is based. Best of all, the sexy concept isn't all for show: Infiniti insists the impending production model's design will draw heavily from the concept car.

Why It Matters

The first two generations of Infiniti G cars came close to achieving parity with the BMW 3 Series thanks to sharp dynamics and shapely styling. But then the tech-laden Q50 sedan lost its way. With the Q60, Infiniti appears to be back on track, targeting the BMW 4 Series as well as new competitors such as the Cadillac ATS coupe. The coupe will attempt to walk the thin line between outright performance and pioneering technology.

Potential Pitfalls

If we point to any single thing that could ruin this high-powered, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe, steering is the main suspect. Infiniti is hesitant to give up on its expensive new steer-by-wire technology, which from an enthusiast standpoint has been vague and lifeless at best.

When to Expect It

A debut at the 2016 Detroit auto show is likely.

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