There used to be a time when luxury vehicles were pretty much nothing but large sedans or equally large coupes. Those days are over. Today even Bentley and Lamborghini have SUVs and Rolls-Royce will have one soon. Mercedes-Benz has two SUVs that cost over $100,000 and go beyond $200,000. If your budget is slightly lower, say between $70,000 and $90,000 there are more SUVs available than I can name here.
But it gets crazier! The new luxury vehicle trend is… pickup trucks. A loaded Ford F150 has massaging ventilated seats, a panoramic sunroof, and an engine from the Ford GT (close enough). The huge F-450 with all the bells and whistles stickers around $100,000 and has more room than some Maybach driven by a Wall Street wanker. The world has gone nuts.
But there is one area of the market that’s hasn’t been explored – luxury cargo vans! And my luxury, I mean branded by luxury brands such as Lexus, Audi, Porsche, or Alfa Romeo, parent companies of which already offer basic vans.
Aksyonov Nikita, a Russian graphic artist from Saint Petersburg, sees that market heading in that direction. And let’s be honest, vans are more functional and more comfortable than SUVs or pickup. He is a step ahead of OEM designers with a few amazing van concepts. Let’s take a look…
Whoever Aksyonov is, he’s damn brilliant. Once this market pops open, and it will because Mercedes is already there with a very nicely appointed Vito, this Lexus is practically production-ready. The grill adaption is spot on! The design continues with hidden door handles and neatly integrated LED lights all around. The cabin is lined with beautiful wood and the finest of leathers but somehow lack Apple CarPlay.
Give this Infiniti the twin-turbo 400-horsepower engine and I’ll buy two! Delivering all the opulence of discounted Lexus and the refinement of a re-badged Nissan, it will sell by the dozens, like all other Infiniti models.
The Quadrifoglio could have a Ferrari 488 motor. Again, brilliant. Each of the 18 passengers gets superb Recaro race seats and the interior is trimmed in carbonfiber. It’s the most fun to drive van of the ones shown here, when it runs.
Imagine this in the GTS Targa version. Just imagine it! The GTS Targa will be one of five dozen models of this Porsche 99199. From the comfortable base model to the quad-turbo 700-horsepower Turbo version, plug-in hybrid something model, and the track-ready 99199 GT1 RS, it will the van for the customer who is very specific about his driving needs. prices will start at $89,997 but most models will sticker at $352,765, what with the optional CD player and such.
Slotted between the VW van and the Porsche van, the Audi is the fun, luxury, but still reasonable choice. All models are quattro AWD. Naturally R and RS versions will be available.
Since BMW has been headed in some weird directions lately, their van is different than others. In the i-class, such as the i3 and the i8, is the iVan. It has a 3-cylinder turbo engine that makes 335-horsepower. The floor consists of multiple layers of batteries and capacitors, which further lowers the center of gravity of this carbon-chassis van. Total power output is 580-horsepower, making it the one of fastest van here but the range is only 50 miles.
Not to be outdone, Subaru gets into the van game. Rightfully so, too, with so many outdoor enthusiasts willing to trade-in their Outbacks. The quietly luxurious model can more than stand-up to the competition with its rally inspired pancake engine, six-speed manual transmission, and STI-like handling, all for a price much lower than anything else here. It will also be the only van to have a factory roof rack and accessories for dogs.
If luxury and performance brands made vans…
25 responses to “If luxury and performance brands made vans…”
Luxury cargo vans are nothing new.
This one’s stock and Ford is among the most luxurious brands I own.
Ford Australia had something a little larger than the Pinto, and something a little smaller. And something slightly smaller than the Econoline
Japan’s Toyota Alphard has got your executive needs covered. CD player seems to be included, too.
A Mercedes Sprinter van with with a luxury custom interior has already pretty much replaced the Towncar limo as the celebrity ride of choice. I had a chance to speak with the local M-B dealer Sprinter service department a few months ago. They mentioned several big names in the entertainment and music industry that had their own luxury Sprinter’s that they brought in for service. Part of the appeal was the anonymity offered by a big van with dark window tint.
Here are some offerings: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-09/these-insane-pimped-out-vans-for-ceos-redefine-commuting
Mercedes Benz has been doing this for quite a while, but, of course, as well as being the largest maker of luxury cars, Mercedes Benz is the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer. They started making vans when they bought Hanomag. They’ve kept on making the FWD Hanomag based vans in China and Thailand but the rest of the world gets Sprinters, the world’s largest selling van.
Alfa Romeo had quite a history of making vans and light trucks. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e3c7ae6caa677b2b868d50116f5459a584375cf64a9f3f76770d6ffe63907ce9.jpg
Came here to say that.
I liked the way that Citroen’s ‘badge-engineered’ versions swapped the grille and headlights over, but they’re still the same parts, just mounted differently.
And SUVs since the 1950s:
Honestly, the BMW one is plausible.
The i3 desperately needs a rebody so that it can, you know, sell. And they’re already beginning to amortize costs of the i8’s big turbo/3cyl/6speed/electric/2speed/4wd system by installing it in countrymen and the upcoming 2-series GC.
So it’ll happen, with a carbon fiber body. And either the i3’s scooter engine, or the full i8 drivetrain.
Now, you’d have to lean on the aftermarket for the luxury part, but check the right boxes, and the boys in Dearborn can take care of you today. Now, if they got Lincoln in the mix you’d probably have to lose the “performance” angle, but who doesn’t like hauling everything, including ass!
My face when I saw that giant Lexus front end. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4899e1fb4a1ae44854144bc415f91d5e8b95d04ad465a0ccd385226f0aea1801.png
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