The last time I drove an “entry level” luxury car that shared bones with some of Ford’s European DNA was my 2002 Jaguar X-Type 2.5 Sport with a manual transmission. Haters can hate but I liked that car because it was more Ford than Jaguar. Before the X-Type I had a 2001 Focus ZX3 and before that I had a Mercury Cougar. The front-wheel drive one that was made in Michigan and exported to Europe. Before that I had a 1996 Contour Zetec 5MT. A 1999 SVT Contour was also in there somewhere. Regardless, I’ve always been jealous of what Ford has offered in Europe. I did what I could to get my hands on the closest thing to a European Ford, even if it wasn’t always the real deal.
The Lexus Flagship – the LS460 4-door sedan – is freshened for the 2013 model year. This comes after an all new Audi A8 in 2011, a tweaked 2012 BMW 7-Series, and the new Cadillac XTS (which may not be in this class). A major change for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is due in early 2013 as a 2014 model year. The Jaguar XJ that was all new in 2009 as a 2010 model gets a much needed all wheel drive system for 2013.
For 2012, MINI achieves the top ratings from its owners outpointing second place Popular Brand GMC by 31 rating points. Owners of the MINI Cooper give the cheeky Premium Compact Car a dominating win in its category over the Subaru Impreza WRX. The all new MINI Countryman outpoints second place Kia Sportage by 78 rating points. MINI's bold head-turning styling, combined with premium design cues and efficient, though small, packages yield an impressive score in AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award research.
For 2012, Audi achieves the top ratings from its owners in AutoPacific's 2012 Ideal Vehicle Awards. Audi's A4, A5 and A6 swept the top three places in the Aspirational Luxury Car category. The Q7 and Q5 were second place in their crossover SUV categories. Audi's design DNA, attention to detail and finesse all contributed to this impressive win.