Luxury cars need to be opulent enough to tempt people used to the best of everything and as good to drive as they are to be driven in. Here we count down the top 10 – and name the ones to avoid
Luxury cars are among the most comfortable and refined in the world. However, the best also have sumptuous interiors complete with high-tech entertainment systems and loads of space for rear-seat passengers.
Running costs might seem less important, but many luxury saloons are run as company cars, so low CO2 emissions are a must and fuel efficiency is a consideration.
The market ranges from executive cruisers such as the Audi A6 through to some of the most expensive cars on the road, including the Rolls-Royce Ghost.
Below, we name the top 10 luxury cars on sale right now – and the ones to avoid.
10. Rolls-Royce Ghost
The Rolls-Royce Ghost is obviously a very expensive choice, with prices starting from around £225,000/$292,500, but that still makes it something of a bargain compared with the larger Phantom. As you’d expect from Rolls-Royce, the Ghost’s interior is covered in the finest materials available and it’s comfortable for both driver and passengers. There’s a powerful 6.6-litre V12 engine under the bonnet, too, providing you with a heady 563bhp.
Our pick EWB
9. Mercedes-Benz CLS
Like the Audi A7, the Mercedes-Benz CLS is designed to appeal to those who want a swoopy luxury coupé but who also need space for the family. However, the CLS is slightly more enjoyable to drive, thanks to its more precise steering. The interior is appealing, too, because it’s comfortable, classy and loaded with kit. Only the slightly dated and distracting infotainment system stops the CLS from finishing higher.
Our pick 350d AMG Line
8. BMW 7 Series
BMW’s latest 7 Series flagship is economical and refined, plus it’s available with plenty of impressive gadgets. You can park it remotely using the key, while the excellent iDrive infotainment system is complemented by gesture controls that let you decline an incoming phone call with a swipe of your hand and change the stereo volume by rotating your finger in the air. Despite being a huge car, the 7 Series is also fun to drive, but the rival Mercedes-Benz S-Class rides more comfortably.
Our pick 730Ld
7. Audi A6
You might wonder how the A6 can compete with the likes of the 7 Series, given that it’s so much cheaper, but it’s actually similarly classy inside and is a great cruiser. There’s also lots of equipment on every version, and if you go for our recommended 2.0-litre diesel model, you’ll enjoy low tax bills. Just bear in mind that a new A6 is due early next year.
Our pick 2.0 TDI Ultra
6. Volvo S90
If you want something different from the usual German luxury cars, this Scandinavian luxury saloon may be just what you’re looking for. It has a bright, spacious interior and plenty of standard equipment. It puts comfort above handling, though, so if you’re after the best driver’s car, you may be better off looking elsewhere.
Our pick D4 Momentum
5. Jaguar XF
If you’ve grown bored of the luxury offerings from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, then Jaguar’s XF might be the answer to your prayers. Unlike some other cars on this list, the XF majors on being great to drive, yet it’s also comfortable over long distances and, in Portfolio specification, gets extras including a reversing camera, keyless entry and start and split-folding rear seats.
Our pick 2.0d 180 Prestige
4. Porsche Panamera
Porsche might be better known for its sports cars and SUVs, but its latest Panamera shows it also knows a thing or two about building luxury cars. The interior is gorgeous, there’s plenty of space for four and the Panamera is as fast as it is luxurious.
Our pick Diesel
3. Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The latest Mercedes-Benz E-Class has a broad remit, but there’s no denying that it’s a true luxury car. Its elegant and classy interior is loaded with technology – including a huge digital instrument cluster – and there’s plenty of space for four adults. It may not be as exciting to drive as some rivals, but the E-Class makes a great case for itself if you’re looking for comfort, and the 220 d diesel engine is very efficient.
Our pick 220 d SE
2. Mercedes-Benz S-Class
It’s no surprise to see the Mercedes-Benz S-Class near the top of this list. It has long been one of the class leaders in the luxury car market and is an excellent choice to drive or be driven in. Its ride comfort is equal to that of a Rolls-Royce Ghost and, if anything, it’s even quieter than the Rolls, despite costing about a third of the price. The latest version has been treated to a raft of updates including self-driving technology.
Our pick 350 d L SE Line
1. BMW 5 Series
The new BMW 5 Series wasn’t just our Luxury Car of the Year winner at the 2017 What Car? Awards, but it’s also our overall Car of the Year. Whichever version you choose, you’ll be getting one of the classiest and most comfortable cars on sale today. And it’s actually more sophisticated and better to drive than the much pricier 7 Series. The 5 Series is a truly fantastic car that makes you question the need to spend any more.
Our pick 520d SE