Best luxury cars

Last updated: Feb 9, 2016

For a long time, big saloon cars were your only choice if you wanted the best in automotive luxury but today there's more variety. A very notable alternative is the most luxurious SUV, the Range Rover. The Porsche Panamera and Maserati Quattroporte may be saloons but they are much more sporty in character than the traditional luxury models and are tempting buyers who want both opulent interiors and serious performance.

Despite the changing face of the luxury market, the usual suspects in this class continue to get better and better, with cars like the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8 still attracting plenty of customers. Not only do these cars get more luxurious, with more technology and high-quality materials as standard, but they also get more powerful and more efficient.

If you want space and the ultimate in refinement, then the cars featured in our top 10 countdown represent some of the very best options in the luxury car market.

Mercedes S-Class saloon

The latest Mercedes S-Class is the finest, most luxurious saloon money can buy. There's a raft of cutting-edge technology fitted, including a system that uses cameras to scan the road ahead and adjusts the suspension accordingly, all in the pursuit of ultimate comfort. Inside there's extensive use of leather, and most features are electrically-operated, automatic, or both. There's even massaging seats, and there's a huge amount of legroom, particularly in long wheelbase models. Yet for all this equipment and its size, the car's still good to drive. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5

Range Rover SUV

The Range Rover has always been the choice for buyers looking for comfort and off-road ability in an upmarket package, but the latest model is better than ever. It's still immediately recognisable as a Range Rover, but look closely at the details such as the intricate light units, chrome trim and exterior cameras, and it's clear this is a very special car indeed. It's even better when you climb in. It boasts one of the finest interiors of any car, and sets new benchmarks for comfort and refinement, not just for luxury 4x4s, but for any sort of luxury car. Choose the diesel and you'll benefit from 38mpg, with no real sacrifice in performance or refinement. Read more.

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4.5 / 5

Audi A8 saloon

The Audi A8 is the perfect luxurious car for the driver who doesn't want to stand out from the crowd. That's not to say the A8 isn't handsome, rather it's more discreet than most of the cars on this list. It's comfortable and fun to drive too, with the Audi Drive Select system allowing the driver to choose between a more comfortable suspension setup, or one that's more sporty. The interior is a fine piece of design, and built with the solidity that Audi is famous for. Double glazed windows and temperature-controlled seats with massage functions means its a very comfortable car in which to spend time. Read more.

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3.7 / 5

Jaguar XJ saloon

Jaguar has long been the maker of sports saloon, and the Jaguar XJ is the perfect embodiment of that. It is one of the most handsome cars in this list, and also one of the most fun to drive. Most models are sold with a 3.0-litre diesel engine, but there's a hugely fast Jaguar XJR at the top of the range which provides the full sports car experience. But for all that focus on performance, the Jaguar XJ remains one of the world's most luxurious models, with a beautifully crafted interior and plenty of standard equipment. The biggest gripe is that the suspension is a little too firm - a trade-off some will be satisfied with given how exciting the car is to drive. Read more.

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3.5 / 5

Bentley Continental Flying Spur saloon

There are more expensive Bentleys, but its the Bentley Continental Flying Spur that we rate most highly. There's plenty of fun to be had from the driver's seat, but cars like this are more about life for passengers. Two different engines are available: a 6.0-litre W12 engine and a turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 - and it's the latter we prefer. That's because there's minimal difference in performance, but the running costs are significantly less. And even on a car that costs between £140,000 and £155,000, that still counts. Read more.

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2.5 / 5

BMW 7 Series saloon

Despite being a big, comfortable luxury car, the BMW 7 Series is actually quite fun to drive - you can thank BMW's tradition of building entertaining saloon cars for that. The latest version gives the mighty Mercedes S-Class a real run for its money with a stunning interior with high-quality materials throughout and an endless list of advanced technology. It's low-key to look at which is good if you want to be chauffeured discreetly, but less so if you want to show off your expensive saloon. There's an extensive (and expensive) options list, plus you can get it with BMW's xDrive four-wheel drive system. Read more.

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4 / 5

Porsche Panamera hatchback

The Porsche Panamera might lack the elegant styling of some other cars here, and its width means it can be a tricky car to maneouvre in tight spots, but there's no doubting the superb driving experience on offer. It's the most popular luxury sports car, and Porsche's legendary DNA is clear to see - the Panamera feels quite a lot like a four-door, four-seat Porsche 911. There's a relatively economical diesel model, as well as a hybrid and a range of super high-performance models. The interior is comfortable, but more a case of function over form than the Jaguar XJ. There's less space in the rear compared to other cars on this list, but the Panamera is more of a car you want to drive, rather than be driven in. Read more.

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3 / 5

Rolls-Royce Ghost saloon

Critics say that the Rolls-Royce Ghost is a BMW 7 Series underneath, but that's not a bad place to start. Every single thing you can touch, see or smell is pure Rolls-Royce. That means the Ghost is almost unparalleled in offering the full luxury car experience. It's big too, and really quite imposing, but that's part of the appeal. Under the bonnet, the 2.4 tonne Ghost is powered by a 6.6-litre V12 engine which guarantees huge performance. And some clever suspension keeps the occupants insulated from the outside world. All this luxury comes with a high price tag, however. Read more.

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2.6 / 5

Maserati Quattroporte saloon

Maserati might be more famous for building sports cars, but it has a strong heritage in luxurious saloon cars too. The current Maserati Quattroporte is the best yet. Those striking looks don't end with the exterior styling - the interior is just as extrovert, making this one extremely desirable car. Maserati's sports car know-how means the Quattroporte offers a great driving experience on twisting roads, yet not at the expense of comfort. None of the engines offered make for a slow car - the 3.0-litre V6 and 3.8-litre V8 engines were developed in conjunction with Ferrari. Read more.

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2.4 / 5

Lexus LS saloon

While Rolls-Royce relies on craftsmanship for its appeal, the Lexus LS is a technological tour-de-force. There's a hybrid model which is hugely expensive, and not much more economical than the cheaper LS 460 petrol model. On a twisting road, the BMW 7 Series and Jaguar XJ leave it for dead in terms of driver involvement, but it offers an incredibly smooth ride and is very comfortable as a result. And being a Lexus, impeccable reliability is a given. Read more.

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2 / 5