Modern Performance for Modern Professionals

Lucid Air

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re one of the leaders: an entrepreneur, a business leader, a self-starter. People like you drive America’s economy forward. Founding a new business venture, rehabilitating an existing company, or building a new idea into reality are transformational acts that require a combination of creativity, guts, and smarts. It takes a certain mental toughness to succeed in these tasks and ventures: one must have a growth mindset, the discipline to grind through every day, and the persistence to forge success out of whatever adverse circumstances rear up. You must be curious, passionate, and self-motivated: nobody’s going to wake you up at 4 AM and give you a checklist to work on.

Your internal drive to succeed is what got you where you are. It’s afforded you success and taught you many lessons about business and life. You’ve learned to outperform the average Joe: you’ve hustled, worked hard, and moved up out of the cubicle farm or the coffee line. Now you’re in charge, making decisions and bringing your business into the future. And while your old ride has served you well on your trip to the top, it’s time to upgrade to a vehicle that — like you — is built on the principles of performance, efficiency, and quality.

In the past, the successful and advancing would flaunt their status with high-end European cars. And to be fair, it’s hard to find fault with a ride like the Audi TT, a 7-series BMW, or the like. But our times are changing. We live in a world that’s moving beyond gas and oil. Modern automotive technology is unlocking new levels of performance and efficiency that we’ve never seen before with high-end electric and hybrid engines. Don’t let those words turn you off: these rides aren’t your kooky Aunt’s Prius or a Tahoe with a Hybrid sticker slapped on the back. These are the cream of the crop, some of the best performing vehicles on the market — perfect for a person like you.

High Expectations For High Performers

A proper car for a high-performing professional needs to exceed even the most demanding expectations. We expect top-tier acceleration: it’s a bad look when someone’s Toyota Yaris passes you on the freeway onramp or when you can’t put distance between yourself and that semi in the rearview. We need sustained top-end speed to get where we’re going — and, of course, because it’s fun. All of this must be accompanied by a comfortable and luxurious interior and a stylish exterior that sets us apart from the pack.

Much of this sounds familiar: any businessman from the ’80s would want the same things from their car. However, today’s world is advancing and changing, pivoting away from the thoughtless consumption of fuel and oil and towards a cleaner and more modern means of transportation. The vehicles we’re looking at today will turn jealous heads when you cruise past the gas station — and when you effortlessly glide past old-fashioned internal-combustion cruisers on the highway. It might not seem sexy to talk about efficiency and economy, but it’s also not sexy to be pumping $5/gallon premium fuel into your ride three times a week at the Circle K.

Tesla Roadster
Tesla Roadster / Photo courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Tesla Roadster

As the 20th century ticked over into the 21st, a group of engineers decided to manufacture a new kind of electric vehicle, one that proved to the public that an electric car could be fast, fun, and sexy. Backed by the vast wealth of Elon Musk, Tesla Motors went on to launch the first Tesla Roadster in 2008. The first Roadster accelerated from 0-60 in only 4 seconds and had a top speed of about 125 miles per hour. The Roadster’s range was about 220 miles, with a charging time of 3.5 hours; the original Roadster would make for a challenging road trip.

The original Roadster was a marvel for its time. The modern generation Tesla Roadster is so good it almost sounds like science fiction. The car can accelerate from 0 to 60 in a beastly 1.9 seconds and to more than 100 miles per hour in just over four seconds. The Roadster enjoys a top speed of more than 250 miles per hour, a speed many small aircraft cannot safely achieve. With power like that, you might assume the range would suffer; the Roadster, however, can dominate the roads for more than 600 miles before needing a recharge. To put that in perspective, you could drive from Miami to Charleston on a single charge — and if speed limits and traffic jams weren’t an issue, you could hypothetically make the trip in about two hours and twenty minutes.

The Roadster’s unbelievable performance is driven by three electric motors, one for each rear wheel and one for the front axle. The engine will make around 800 horsepower and put out an absurd amount of power, somewhere around 7,375 lb-ft of torque. If that sounds like a lot, it is: the Freightliner Cascadia, a semi-truck designed to haul 60,000 pounds of freight, puts out a studly 2,050 lb-ft of torque. The Bugatti Chiron looks relatively wimpy at a mere 1,180 lb-ft.

Surely the Bugatti could take on the Roadster on the track, though — right? It could, but only if it wanted to lose. The Bugatti Chiron can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds, which is a very respectable speed. It is not, however, fast enough to outpace the Roadster, which makes 0 to 60 in 1.9 seconds.

In terms of luxury, the Roadster offers a clean, simple feel. While some may miss the mahogany tones and supple leather of traditional European luxury brands, the Roadster’s interior brings a contemporary yet futuristic style to the table that will suit the aesthetic of many modern entrepreneurs just fine. The Roadster offers an open-air driving experience if you wish it; perfect for a late-night excursion or a winding trip down Route 1. It includes Tesla’s signature in-dash display, which can integrate with apps like Spotify while you’re driving and Netflix for entertainment while you’re parked.

If you want a high-performance car that you could drive every day, it’s hard to imagine a better option than the Roadster. Tesla builds to order, and you can expect to pay around $200,000 for the car. Does that sound outrageous? Maybe. Have you worked hard and put in the effort to get this far in life? Absolutely. Do you deserve a Roadster? We think so. Interested parties can place a reservation for just $50,000.

Lucid Air
Lucid Air / Photo courtesy of Lucid

Lucid Air

Tesla might be the most recognizable name in the luxury EV market, but the competition is gaining fast. Perhaps the biggest rival to Tesla is Lucid Motors. Originally founded in 2007 under the name Atieva, Lucid’s original business was engineering and manufacturing high-performance battery systems and powertrains for Formula E race cars. In 2014, the company announced that they would begin manufacturing their own high-end luxury electric vehicles. To transition from batteries and powertrains to full-scale automobiles, the company brought on Peter Rawlinson as CEO and CTO. Rawlinson is an accomplished engineer, having worked as VP of Vehicle Engineering at Tesla, where he was also the chief engineer responsible for the Model S. Rawlinson has also worked in lead engineering roles at Lotus and Jaguar, which should give you an idea of the quality and performance that Lucid aspires to. Rawlinson’s skill set is impressive, but so is the rest of the team at Lucid. The company hired Derek Jenkins, formerly the Director of Design at Mazda North America, as Senior Vice President of Design and Brand. Jenkins has also worked for Volkswagen, where he helped design vehicles like the Scirocco concept car and the Audi A8 sedan. Lucid’s focus on bringing in the best and brightest minds in the automotive industry should help consumers understand what to expect from this relatively new but up-and-coming luxury EV manufacturer.

Make no mistake: while Lucid’s background is in high-end, high-performance electrical engineering, the company places heavy emphasis on being a luxury brand. The interior of the Lucid Air lives up to the vehicle’s name: it is spacious and airy, with the glass roof providing ample visibility and a feeling of openness. The upholstery is full-grain Nappa leather that comes in several rich and handsome colors. Alexa Built-In powers the infotainment system if you like to use voice controls; if you prefer a kinetic interface, the Lucid touchscreen also responds to taps and gestures.

While these premium finishes make the Lucid feel luxurious and finely appointed, it is also very futuristic. The car’s AI learns driver preferences so that it can suggest music and climate settings. It also powers many safety systems, including a forward-collision radar with automatic emergency brakes, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic sensing, and adaptive cruise control. The Air’s array of sensors and processors includes everything from camera to radar, LIDAR, and an ultrasonic sensing system. These sensors power a system called DreamDrive, which offers advanced driver assistance to help keep you safe as road conditions change. If you want your car to take on more responsibilities, you can upgrade the Lucid Air to a Level 3 self-driving vehicle. Tesla’s famous Autopilot, it seems, has a strong competitor in the Lucid Air.

If you decide to do the driving yourself, the Air comes with a powerful electric motor. The base model Air comes with a single 480-horsepower electric motor that pushes the rear wheels. The upgraded trim levels are powered by a set of dual electric motors that provide anywhere from up to 1,111 horsepower, enabling the Air to run a quarter-mile in less than ten seconds and go from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds. While the Air can perform like a race car, its refined styling makes it a gentile presence in the driveway. 

The base Lucid Air has a very respectable range of about 406 miles, comparable to the average fuel-guzzling sedan. The Dream Edition Range model can travel 520 miles between charges. The Air’s rapid-charging system can pump the batteries with 300 miles of range in just 20 minutes, a perfect amount of time to stretch your legs or sneak in a power nap. The Air’s remarkable battery system includes a bidirectional charging interface, meaning that Lucid drivers can use the Lucid Connected Home Charging Station to power their home if the power goes out. With the Lucid Air, you’re not just getting an amazing, high-performance luxury car: you’re getting a whole auxiliary power system for your home.

Mercedes EQS
Mercedes-Benz EQS Sedan / Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz EQS Sedan

Mercedes-Benz is arguably the best-known and most prestigious luxury auto brand in the US. Driving a Mercedes is seen as a sign of wealth, prestige, and class; one associates the brand with people like cardiologists, lawyers, and C-suite executives. Mercedes’ legendary comfort and performance make the brand highly desirable among people from all walks of life: you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody out there sh*tting on the Mercedes, except maybe out of jealousy.

While the brand has a long and storied past, today’s Mercedes-Benz is focusing on the future. Fossil fuels, it seems, are on the way out: the internal combustion engine is a remarkable feat of engineering, but the discerning modern buyer knows that the sun is setting on the era of oil and gas. Dirty engines burning dirty gas are no longer chic. The mark of luxury isn’t to pay $4 a gallon for premium fuel: it’s to never stop at a gas station again. You’re too busy to be a slave to the fuel meter. The Mercedes-Benz EQS Sedan is powered by a brilliantly engineered electric powertrain driven by a 107.8-kWh battery system that can charge from 10% to 100% in just 31 minutes when connected to a DC fast charger.

Pivoting to an electric vehicle has historically meant losing some sense of style: many electric vehicles, like the Nissan Leaf, are…well, they’re not going to win any beauty pageants. Mercedes knows that their customers expect a distinctive and elegant style regardless of what’s under the hood, so they build the EQS sedan on the chassis of the S-type, one of the sleekest and most aerodynamic vehicles on the road. Similarly, Mercedes knows that the transition from fossil fuels to electrical power doesn’t have to mean a loss in performance or power. Indeed, they take pride in knowing that their vehicles can outclass almost anybody else on the road. The EQS 450+ powertrain puts out 329 horsepower at 406 ft-lbs of torque, and the EQS 580 4MATIC powertrain can pump out a whopping 516 horses at 611 ft-lbs of torque. The top speed for the EQS Sedan is around 130 miles per hour; the EQS 580 4MATIC can accelerate from 0-60 in just 4.1 seconds, with the EQS 450+ hitting 60 miles per hour within 5.5 seconds. This is comparable with the performance of the S-type’s fossil-powered gasoline motor, which puts out 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. In simpler terms: the EQS has the same breathtaking styling as the S-type and puts out more power, all without the hassle of gasoline.

The EQS offers drivers the same level of comfort and luxury that any discerning entrepreneur desires. The seats are upholstered in the finest leather, so you can enjoy your cruise to the office or the airport in premium comfort. The EQS’ seats also come with multiple customizable contours for bodies of all shapes and sizes, and they include massage features so you can work out the tension while you’re on your way to the city to mix and mingle with investors and clients. In the unlikely event that you decide to share your EQS with another driver, Mercedes has incorporated a biometric driver recognition system that will remember your seating preferences for you. That way you don’t have to struggle to find your comfort after your partner borrows your ride. The seats in the EQS are not just comfortable, they’re stylish: Mercedes has incorporated active ambient lighting into their seats, so your ride can reflect your mood.

The EQS Sedan’s onboard technology is stunning. The integrated navigation system calculates routes while accounting for current weather conditions, local topography, and stops to grab more electrons. The navigation interface resides within the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) Hyperscreen, a 56” curved glass panel that seamlessly fills the front dash. The system was designed ground-up to minimize the need for layered interfaces, meaning that you can control your car and your mobile devices seamlessly through one single interface. The Hyperscreen features a 12.3-inch instrument cluster, a 17.7-inch central display, and a 12.3-inch passenger display. The system is powered by an 8-core processor with 24 gigs of RAM that’s capable of processing 46.4 GB per second. It is responsive to voice commands, but unlike the clunky and highly-specific voice command systems of some vehicles, the MBUX system understands natural speech patterns in 27 languages. Between the high-performing engine and powertrain, Mercedes’ legendary comfort, and the futuristic onboard infotainment system, the EQS is a perfect vehicle for the modern businessperson with an eye for detail and a taste for finery.

Volvo XC40 Recharge
Volvo XC40 Recharge / Photo courtesy of Volvo

Volvo XC40 Recharge

Volvo is often underestimated, but make no mistake: this is a vehicle brand that takes quality very seriously. They make everything from sports cars to semi-trucks with their trademarked attention to detail, safety, and durability. Some people jokingly say that a Volvo is built like a tank with leather seats; we’d add that they also handle and accelerate far better than any standard combat tank. Regardless, Volvo is a strong competitor in the luxury electric vehicle market. The Volvo XC40 Recharge is a luxury crossover SUV designed for the modern urban professional. The XC40 Recharge’s electric motor can crank out 402 horsepower and produces 486 lb-ft of torque, an impressive amount of power for a vehicle this size. This easy access to power makes the car quite zippy: Volvo says it can go from 0-60 in 4.7 seconds. The battery provides a range of about 223 miles between charges. If you’re on a longer trip, the battery can be charged from 10% to 80% in about 33 minutes, which is a range of about 178 miles.

The XC40 Recharge was built with Volvo’s commitment to driver comfort and convenience. The seats are Nappa leather and come in a variety of colors. The cabin is thoughtfully equipped with storage designed to solve common problems: there’s a takeout-food bin, water bottle holders, and many other handy places to stash your stuff. The XC40 Recharge also features a wireless device charger that is designed to accommodate modern-sized smartphones. The drivers’ smartphone can even become an extension of the car: the Digital Services Package allows drivers to remotely adjust the climate settings so your car is the perfect temperature when you hop in. Sliding into a perfectly climate-controlled car for a luxurious ride home practically makes the commute into a cruise. Driving on a nice day? The open-and-tilt panoramic sunroof is the perfect way to enjoy your time on the road instead of just enduring it. To add enjoyment to your ride time, the XC40 Recharge incorporates the latest generation of Google Android Automotive. Don’t worry if you have an iPhone; the system will work seamlessly with your Apple device.

Volvos aren’t just comfortably appointed, they’re remarkably safe. The XC40 Recharge features a full suite of modern safety features. The body of the Recharge was designed from the ground up around the battery cage, which protects the cells in the event of a collision. Volvo built the frame of the XC40 Recharge with advanced structural elements that are designed to keep the occupants safe even in the most destructive crashes. Of course, it’s best just to avoid crashing in the first place, so Volvo built an array of sensors and assist devices into the vehicle. Forward-facing sensors detect obstacles like pedestrians or bicyclists. If the computer anticipates a collision, it will engage the automatic brakes. Cross-traffic alerts can also engage the automatic brakes: if you’re backing out of a tight spot with limited visibility, the vehicle’s sensors will warn you of cross-traffic and stop the car if needed. The vehicle can also detect lane departures and assist with lane changes by engaging blind-spot monitoring systems.

The XC40 Recharge is a fine ride for the forward-thinking modern businessperson. It’s also a more economical option than many of its competitors. If you want a high-performance luxury vehicle but you don’t want to pay more than $100,000 for a car, the XC40 Recharge is a viable option. The base price is only $55,085, making this vehicle far more attainable than a Roadster or a Mercedes. But don’t mistake the attainable price point for an indicator of suboptimal quality: the XC40 Recharge is built to the same exacting standards that have made Volvo a top name in automotive quality for decades.

Volkswagen ID.4
Volkswagen ID.4 / Photo courtesy of Volkswagen

Volkswagen ID.4

No look at high-quality electric vehicles would be complete without a discussion about the Volkswagen ID.4. While Volkswagen is not widely considered a luxury brand, the build quality of the ID.4 and Volkswagen’s attention to detail make it worthy of consideration, especially for frugal customers. The ID.4 is a relative newcomer to the EV market, but Volkswagen has long been a leader in electric vehicle technology, releasing the eGolf in 2012 and subsequently testing many interesting EV chassis. This long period of experimentation allowed Volkswagen to refine their engineering. The results speak for themselves: the ID.4 was awarded the title of 2021 World Car of the Year, and critics have spoken fondly of their time behind the wheel of this CUV-styled electric vehicle.

The heart of any EV is the battery system and powertrain. The ID.4 is built around a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery that puts out 77 kWh. The base model makes 201 horsepower and puts out 229 lb-ft of torque, less than many other luxury EV brands but more than enough to haul you, your associates, and your equipment. If you absolutely need more power, the ID.4 AWD edition comes with a 2-motor system that puts out 295 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque. The dual-motor AWD edition can go from 0-60 in just 5.4 seconds, not nearly as fast as the Roadster but better than, say, the Honda Accord. Drivers can expect a range of about 250 miles between charges. For those on-the-road charging occasions, the ID.4 can take on about 60 miles worth of charge in 10 minutes from a DC fast charger. If you have a little more time, you can hit an 80% charge in about 38 minutes.

The interior of the ID.4 has been painstakingly crafted by Volkswagen to enhance driver comfort. The interior has premium finishes, including 12-way power front bucket seats that include back massagers and armrests. The seats are plush, comfortable, and infinitely adjustable, so even taller or wider drivers will be able to find comfortable positions in this car. The infotainment screen is angled toward the driver and comes with Volkswagen’s in-house smart control system. The infotainment screen also interfaces easily with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto if you prefer to use navigation software like Google Maps. The ID.4’s infotainment system is interfaced with the vehicle’s array of sensors, which provide lane-keeping information, automated braking, and adaptive cruise control functions to the driver. One fascinating design feature is the light bar that spans the front console of the ID.4: the bar changes colors to communicate with the driver, offering visual cues for everything from battery status to brake warnings.

While all of the other premium EV’s we’ve discussed here have front storage space (colloquially, a “frunk”) where the internal-combustion engine used to live, the VW ID.4’s hood conceals some mechanical works and does not offer any space to stash your briefcase, backpack, or gym bag. However, the cunningly designed interior can accept 30 cubic feet of cargo, more if you fold down the seats. The Volkswagen ID.4 offers consumers a high-quality, sporty, electric CUV at a base price of only $41,190, making it a perfect vehicle for value-minded EV shoppers.

Where the Electrons Meet the Road

In American culture, the automobile has always been a status symbol. In the old days, self-starters and businessmen might have flaunted their wealth with a shiny Packard or Buick. More recently, the executive parking lots of the world have been filled with flocks of BMWs, Audis, and other traditional high-end autos that display the power, wealth, and refined taste of their drivers. The times, however, are changing. The world is electrifying, moving beyond fossil fuels and internal combustion to cleaner, quieter, and more powerful electric motors. While the first few generations of electric vehicles may have left much to be desired in terms of power and beauty, the electric vehicle is rapidly coming of age. Tesla’s Roadster can smoke almost any car on the planet in terms of power output and speed. Brands like Mercedes and Lucid are showing the world that electric vehicles can keep drivers comfortable in a plush and well-designed interior while blazing past piston-powered dinosaurs on the track or the highway. The modern jetsetter needs a car as refined, powerful, and modern as they are, and the modern EV market is delivering. Whether you’re a Roadster-driving CEO roaring down the desert highways of the American West or an urban businessperson cruising the streets of the city in your EQS, your high-performance, unique, and finely appointed vehicle will show the world that you — like the luxury EV — have arrived.

View this article in the December 2021 issue of MP.