As expectations of luxury and technology spiral ever upwards, Mercedes-Benz has taken its flagship S-Class model into another dimension, turning up the interior amenities yet one louder to take on the bespoke creations of Bentley and Rolls-Royce. The highest-end S600 marks the return of the Maybach name, formerly a standalone sub-brand but now a symbol of high style and extreme attention to detail. Signature features include a voice amplification system that lets you speak to your chauffeur without raising your voice and a dashboard timepiece by IWC. From £165,710.
Community projects don’t come much bolder than Peter Haimerl’s new granite-clad Konzerthaus, in the heart of the small Bavarian village of Blaibach. It was designed for the Kulturwald, a non-profit foundation set up to bring in cultural events, and the 200-seater subterranean concert hall, with its faceted concrete walls that create near-perfect acoustics, now hosts around 50 events a year.
Audi is quietly building up class-leading expertise in electric cars. The Q7 E-Tron is the second model to get its sophisticated hybrid system, transforming the plus-size SUV into a low-emissions vehicle and improving refinement and agility. Meanwhile, the E-Tron Quattro Concept, expected to slot in between the Q5 and Q7 when it arrives in showrooms late next year, brings a svelte but muscular presence to a market sector that’s distinctly lacking in SUVs.
Audi’s Ingolstadt HQ dominates this town: 31,000 people work here, producing around half a million Audi models every year. The sprawling campus includes design studios, testing facilities and acres of state-of-the-art factory space. The Audi Forum is the centrepiece, part customer service/delivery centre, part museum, with the marque’s heritage on permanent display.
Every few years, Porsche reinvents its mainstay sports car. For 2016, the 911 gets turbo-charging across the range, using the latest engine technology to maximise efficiency without compromising on quality. Updated multimedia and styling tweaks ensure the second generation 911 series remains one of the most practical and exhilarating sports cars ever made. From £85,857.
Designed by Ian Shaw Architekten, Villa S’s white concrete structure features an upper floor that opens out onto an expansive roof terrace. The glazed south elevation brings the landscape into the interior, while tall ceilings are used throughout, with meranti wood doors and window frames and stone floors creating a uniform, harmonious interior.
VW’s future is represented by the Budd-e concept, a sleek preview of the company’s next-generation camper van. With a flexible, multifunctional interior freed up by all-electric propulsion, it has the makings of a cult vehicle, just like the original ‘Type 2’ van of the 1950s. Sliding doors, swivelling chairs and multiple screens turn it into a modern-day iteration of the original’s countercultural crash pad. If only all electric cars had the same spirit. (Production version from 2018.)
House M was designed as an update of the classic townhouse for a family of Berlin academics. Peter Ruge’s design stretches back along the rectangular site, adjoining a narrow sunken garden and terrace accessed through the lower ground floor kitchen. The main living rooms are on the first floor, united by a central void, creating a series of interlocking public and private spaces. To top it off, a low-energy, high-sustainability approach makes this a highly efficient place to live.