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 still important and fuel efficiency is a consideration.
The market ranges from executive cruisers such as the BMW 5 Series through to some of the most expensive cars on the road, including the Rolls-Royce Ghost.
Here we name the top 10 luxury cars on sale right now – and the ones to avoid.
*** Note : £1 = $1.28 (correct at time of post)
The best luxury cars
10. Rolls-Royce Ghost
The Ghost is obviously a very expensive choice, with prices starting from around £225,000, but that still makes it something of a bargain compared with the larger Rolls-Royce Phantom.
As you’d expect of a 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 a heady 563bhp.
Our pick: EWB
9. BMW 7 Series
Despite it being a huge car, BMW’s latest 7 Series flagship is fun to drive, although its chief rival, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, rides more comfortably. The 7 Series is economical and refined, plus it’s available with plenty of impressive gadgets.
The 7 Series is packed with the latest car technology. You can park it remotely using the key, and when you’re sitting inside, you can decline an incoming phone call with a swipe of your hand and change the stereo volume by rotating your finger in the air when using the excellent iDrive infotainment system.
Our pick: 730Ld
8. Volvo S90
If you want something different from the usual German luxury car choices, this opulent Swedish luxury saloon could be just what you’re looking for.
The S90 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’re probably better off looking elsewhere.
Our pick D4 Momentum
7. Jaguar XF
If you’re bored of the luxury offerings from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the XF might be the answer to your prayers. It’s a particularly fine choice if you love your driving because it handles more sweetly than its luxury saloon rivals, including the mighty BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class.
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, it gets extras including a reversing camera, keyless entry and start and split-folding rear seats.
Our pick 2.0d 180 Prestige
6. BMW 6 Series GT
The 6 Series Gran Turismo is far more appealing than its predecessor the 5 Series GT. It combines the interior from the brilliant current 5 Series with dimensions that are more akin to the spacious and luxurious 7 Series.
Despite its size, the 6 Series GT weighs about 150kg less than it predecessor, the 5 Series GT. And if you pick our favourite, the 630d, you’re sure to appreaciate the way it pulls strongly from low revs, making it feel so flexible in everyday use that we think it’s one of the smoothest and quietest diesels in the class.
Our pick 630d SE
5. Porsche Panamera
Porsche may 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 Panamera’s interior is gorgeous. There’s plenty of space for four and being a Porsche, the Panamera is as fast as it is luxurious.
Our pick Diesel
4. Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The latest E-Class has a broad remit, but there’s no denying it’s a true luxury car. Its elegant and classy interior is loaded with technology – including a huge digital instrument display – and there’s plenty of space inside 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 220d diesel engine is very efficient.
Our pick 220 d SE
3. Mercedes-Benz S-Class
It should come as no surprise to see the 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 the Rolls-Royce Ghost and, if anything, it’s even quieter than that car, despite costing about a third of the price. The latest version has been treated to a raft of updates including advanced self-driving technology.
Our pick 350 d L SE Line
2. Audi A8
The A8 is a technological tour de force that’s good enough to beat theMercedes S-Class for luxury and the BMW 7 Series for driving dynamics. It features active suspension (similar to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class’s Magic Body Control in that it ‘reads’ the road and adapts to bumps before it reaches them), rear-wheel steering to improve manoeuvrability and a body that makes use of a wide range of lightweight materials to stay as light as possible.
The A8 is beautifully made inside, feeling better screwed together in some places than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. However, although the material quality is high, with lots of leather and smart wood veneers, it doesn’t achieve quite the same sense of occasion as the S-Class’s swanky interior does.
Our pick 50 TDI quattro tiptronic
1. BMW 5 Series
The new 5 Series wasn’t just our Luxury Car of the Year winner at the 2017 What Car? Awards, but 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.
It’s actually more sophisticated and better to drive than the much pricier 7 Series. It’s a truly fantastic car that will make you question the need to spend any more.
Our pick 520d SE
The luxury cars to avoid
You’ll stand out from the crowd if you buy an Infiniti Q70, but others are quieter, better to drive, classier inside and cheaper to run. It’s impossible to recommend.
Lexus’ answer to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class may be refined and comfortable, but it’s a lot pricier, costing more than £100,000. Its interior doesn’t feel special enough to justify that, and it’s both uninspiring to drive and expensive to run.