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When flying, many of us fantasise about getting out of the economy seats and into first class. You get a large amount of leg and headroom – a dream for taller folk – as well as more comfort, resulting in a smooth, relaxing ride.
As the road equivalent of flying first class, what defines a luxury car? Essentially, it’s all of the above. These cars are built to provide unparalleled comfort and head-turning style; they’re vehicles that make you feel you’ve accomplished something j ust by getting behind the wheel.
Let’s take a look at some of the best luxury vehicles available today.
Jaguar XJ saloon
The XJ is arguably the most fun luxury car to drive. It has elements which put it far ahead of its rivals, such as terrific suspension and a quiet, relaxing ride, as well as a lavish interior that will make even the most luxury-spoilt passengers sit up and admire their surroundings.
With its 3.0-litre diesel engine, enticing front grill, exquisite leather upholstery, built-in climate control and sat-nav, plus an automatic gearbox, this Jag is about as handsome as they come.
Range Rover SUV
The Range Rover SUV is in a category all of its own. It looks like a 4×4, it has almost unrivalled off-road capabilities, and yet it’s just as luxurious as any of the cars on this list.
At more than 400kg lighter than previous models, the 2013 SUV is able to provide lower emissions than ever before, as well as better fuel economy and a smoother drive. You’ll have plenty of boot space, and for a larger car it’s surprisingly quiet on the move. It’s the ideal luxury car for people who are up for anything – even heading off the beaten track.
Mercedes S-Class saloon
The sixth generation S-Class from Mercedes is a streamlined, sculpted, sexier version of the German manufacturer’s previous luxury sedans. In case you couldn’t guess, that means it’s even more luxurious than before.
Need proof? How about its ‘Magic Body Control’ – cameras mounted on the windshield which can ‘read’ the road ahead, then tell the suspension to prepare for uneven surfaces. You and your passengers can enjoy a relaxing massage as you drive, or if you gettoo relaxed, the W222 model is known for coming closer to being able to drive autonomously than any other production car. Letting your car drive while you get massaged? Now that’s luxury.
BMW 7 Series saloon
You’d be forgiven for writing this car off on looks alone. It’s not that it looks unappealing; it’s just that its luxuriousness is hidden in plain sight.
The car is very spacious, incredibly reliable and extremely well-equipped (it’s sound proofed, has a 16-speaker Bang and Olufsen stereo and rear-seat entertainment packages including 9.2-inch monitors which can be built into the headrests). The 3.0-litr e six-cylinder petrol engine can go 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds.
Audi A8 saloon
You’ll know when a luxury car is really impressive – the people being chauffeured in it will wish they were driving. The Audi A8 is an amazing car to take out for a spin and is chock-full of innovative gadgets, like lights which connect to the sat-nav t o bend round corners, illuminate junctions and automatically adjust to oncoming traffic.
It’s certainly not the cheapest car to run, but boy is it comfortable. In fact, we’d go as far as to say it’s the most comfy driving and passenger experience you’ll have in any of these cars. With heating/cooling squishy leather seats, massage functions, insulated doubled-glazed windows, no outside noise and desirable suspension, you’d be hard-pressed to argue.
Bentley Continental GT
Like the Audi A8, you’ll know when a luxury car is really impressive – when it’s popular among Premier League footballers. Such is the case for the Bentley Continental GT – coming in both a convertible GTC version and a GT coupe.
Talking of football, there’s a rather sporty interior in the Continental combining leather, aluminium and the finest hand-crafted wood. Designed with long-distance driving in mind, Bentley has cut back on fuel consumption, emissions and weight, without skimping on the luxury.
Maserati Quattroporte saloon
Continuing the sporty-interior trend, the latest Quattroporte is also kitted out in the finest wood and leather. Line it up against the Audi A8 or the Jaguar XJ and it is noticeably more of a sports car than a limousine, and handles like one too. That doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly luxurious, though.
Just look at it. The beautiful exterior rivals any on our list, and while there isn’t as much interior space as some other luxury cars there is plenty of other luxurious attributes to make up for it – it’s faster than a Porsche 911, for starters.
Rolls-Royce Ghost saloon
When many petrol-heads think of luxury cars, they automatically think of a Rolls-Royce. The Ghost, at 5.4 metres in length and 2.4 tonnes in weight, is as extravagant as they come. Drivers and passengers alike can enjoy a mix of classic style and modern convenience.
Put it this way – if those in the back seats want to catch 40 winks, they’re not going to be disturbed any time soon. For such a big car it’s almost effortless to drive, even on tight corners. Air-suspension takes over on bumpy surfaces, and if you want ed to push it to its limit you can get this beast to go from 0-60mph in just 4.7 seconds. Did we mention it weighs 2.4 tonnes? Wow – that might wake someone up after all.
Luxury, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Now if someone would only let me be-hold the keys to one of these beautiful luxury cars, my first-class fantasies would come true.
10th July 2014
“Well I’m not braggin’ babe so don’t put me down, but I’ve got the fastest set of wheels in town. She’s ported and relieved and she’s stroked and bored; she’ll do a hundred and forty with the top end floored.”
So sang Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys on their 1963 album ‘Little Deuce Coupe’, but coupés have certainly changed a lot over the years from the blue-lacquered Ford hot rod that adorned its cover. Commonly viewed as two-door sports cars intended f or two people, coupés have accelerated back into popularity in recent years, so we thought it’s only right we take a look at the top ten coupés on the market.
Volkswagen Scirocco Mk3 (2008- )
Heralded as something of a return to coupé form, the Volkswagen Scirocco Mk3 made quite a splash when it was first revved up in 2008, following a lengthy absence for the model. Sporty, a dream to handle and with enough pizzazz to compete with the c oncept cars in this list, it’s no surprise the Scirocco was handed five-star reviews and ‘car of the year’ awards upon its release. For an even speedier version, there’s also the Scirocco R.
Peugeot RCZ (2010- )
Were it not for the initial rapturous reception the RCZ received by both professionals and the public alike, it may never have gone into full production. What began as a simple concept car has turned into Peugeot’s most acclaimed higher-performance vehi cle in years. It looks as good as it drives, and that’s really saying something. But don’t just take our word for it; the RCZ won both ‘Coupé of the Year’ and a ‘Special Design Award’ in 2010.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C7 (2014- )
On the muscular end of the coupé spectrum comes the rather athletic Stingray. A three year production delay in 2011 led to plenty of anticipation, allowing GM to start marketing the next generation model to a younger demographic. Corvettes had a re putation of being something of “an old man’s car” prior to this one, but with 460 horsepower and the ability to go 0 to 60 in just 3.8 seconds, the Stingray C7 quickly quashed those notions.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage (2006- )
Strong, light and with 380bhp engine noise that will make a car enthusiast’s heart melt, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage coupé is one heck of a sports car. Named an ‘All Star’ by Automobile Magazine due to its performance, design and road manners, this baby is a rare breed (production of 10,000 is small compared to other manufacturers). Owners aren’t going to be putting them into ‘endangered species’ garages anytime soon though – it’s just too cool. It has to be outside in the wild.
BMW 6 series F13 (2011- )
If you regularly take long driving tours, you’ve got a few grand to spare and you’re looking for a coupé that can give you the feeling of luxury, your best bet is to get a luxury grand tourer. The BMW 6 Series is one of the best there is and after three generations of amends it’s almost perfect. Take it out on the open road and have a go on the 640d engine for a few hours – you’ll see what we mean.
Audi A5 (2007- )
This compact executive coupé took everything that was great about the Audi A4 like the “Quattro” all-wheel drive and then added a bit more glamour to proceedings. The 2014 Ultra trim level A5 has a newly developed 2.0 litre TDI engine for greater e fficiency; in fact, Audi believe it to be one of the most efficient coupés there is. It’s hard to argue.
Porsche Cayman (2006- )
Porsche’s Cayman model has evolved over the years, but each version has been near-perfect in different ways. Derived from the Boxster roadsters, it’s about as much fun as driving a car can be. Even the more basic models can soar up to 165mph if you were so inclined, and while it’s expensive it’s also comfortable, beautiful and somewhat life-affirming.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé (2011- )
The Mercedes Benz C-Class is the Coupé equivalent of a ‘world’s strongest man’ contestant. Well-built but not so big it can’t pick up some serious speed, with a serene engine that never gives up and effortlessly switches gears. It might not be the sportiest, but it’s efficient, eye-catching and very well-trained.
Hyundai Veloster (2012- )
Hyundai returned to the coupé sector with the Velostar and naturally threw away the rule book. The design is striking; it has an additional third door on the passenger side and a built-in touch screen that can rival the clarity of any tablet device . In the turbo you can have a butch 1.6L T-GDi Gamma engine, although the European versions have lower power engines than in the US. It’s not one for speeding anyway, opting instead for a balanced all-round quality.
Toyota GT86 (2012- )
It’s always refreshing to find coupés that are 100 per cent driver focused, and the Toyota GT86 is definitely not all-show and no go. Sure, it has the 18 inch forged aluminium wheel with sport-focused tyres and a quad exhaust system, but it’s also back-to-basics in many ways. It demands to be driven rather than kept in a showroom, and that’s no bad thing. It’s reasonably priced too.
10th July 2014
When you’re watching the bad guys speed away from the cops in the movies, have you ever thought to yourself ‘surely it’s time the police got faster cars?’
Well, they have – which will not sit well with film writers who now have to think of other ways for their villains to escape. Across the world supercars are being introduced to the forces, some just as gimmicks to deter speedy drivers, others ready for everyday patrol. But just what are some of the fastest police cars out there? Let’s have a look.
Ariel Atom 3.5R (UK)
350bhp, 0-60mph in “less than 2.3 seconds”, top speed 155mph
Speaking of the movies, the Ariel Atom looks more like something Batman would drive than Inspector Gordon. Ariel, based in Crewkerne, Somerset, has given one of these bad boys to the Avon and Somerset Constabulary (its local police force) – an are a not exactly known for its bank robberies and high-speed chases.
Having this car on the squad is more a message in safety than it is a necessity. As part of the Safer Rider campaign for motorcyclist awareness, the Atom is expected to help reduce the number of motorcycle accidents on the roads (presumably because from a distance, if you squint, it looks a little like a motorbike). We’re not quite sure how it will do this exactly, but when you’ve got a car that looks this good, weighs just 612kg and can get to 60mph in “under 2.3 seconds” (no one really knows), we’re sure the officers will figure something out.
Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 (Dubai)
700bhp, 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds, top speed 267mph
You’d be hard pressed to find a force around the world that isn’t a little jealous of the fleet in the possession of the Dubai police. The department’s luxury vehicles tally up to around $6.5 million and the king of the road is the $1.6 million Bugatti Veyron – the world’s fastest police car. In fact, the Veyron Super Sport is the fastest street-legal production car that’s ever existed.
You won’t see them risking this car’s safety in a high-speed chase anytime soon though. Instead, much like the Ariel Atom, it’s used more as a publicity tool to bring the police and community closer together. Officers must feel like rock stars when they ‘re cruising around and posing for photos.
Porsche 911 Carrera S (Germany/Austria)
500bhp, 0-60mph in 4.6 seconds, top speed of 188mph
It may seem a little slower than the other cars listed, but the Porsche 911 Carrera S is actually used as a genuine police car in Germany. Modified for this role, it has a 6 cylinder engine and will make any getaway driver say ‘nein’ when they see it co ming in their rear-view mirror.
Upon its release it was labelled the world’s best sports car by many, and as one of the easiest sports cars to drive by many more. All in all it’s perfect for paroling on the Autobahn.
Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 (Italy)
602bhp, 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds, top speed of 202mph
Expected to start fighting crime on Italy’s streets before 2015 arrives, this special police-edition Lamborghini has a few tricks up its sleeve. Criminals will be able to spot it by its ‘blu Polizia’ colour scheme, but what they may not know is that the Huracan LP 610-4 is also kitted out with automatic number plate recognition and tracking software with the ability to send real-time images back to the station to check if vehicles are stolen.
Not that any bad guys would be able to get away anyway. With fast acceleration and a 202mph max-out speed, this beast is enough to intimidate even the most hard-nosed criminals. It also has the potential to become a makeshift ambulance too, as there’s a special refrigeration system for organs and a life-saving defibrillator hidden in a luggage compartment up front.
McLaren MP4-12C (Dubai/UK)
616bhp, 0-60mph in 2.8 seconds, top speed of 207mph
The McLaren MP4-12C will be used in the same way as the Bugatti Veyron and Ariel Atom – encouraging motorists to discuss issues of road speed and safety, but also just to show off a little.
It certainly looks the business with a steering wheel lifted from McLaren’s F1 car and a bespoke six-speed gearbox, but in reality it’s slightly incompetent as a real police car. After all, it only has two seats (which might be a bit too close for comfort when it comes to catching real criminals).
30th May 2014
With the right car, driving can be heaps of fun at any time of year. There’s something particularly special about driving in the sun, though; windows down with your favourite summer soundtrack – what could be more perfect? Well, the whole experience can be enhanced greatly with the help of a shiny new convertible, and making the move from traditionally topped transport to the latest topless model doesn’t have to cost the earth. Here are a few of the best value convertibles available in 2014.
Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet – From £17,740
What better place to start than with a motoring icon? VW’s Beetle may have gone through a few aesthetic alterations in its extensive history but the head-turning curves are still there for all to see on the latest model, which was first released in 2011. Now the range includes a sleek drop-top variant, however, and style-conscious motorists have every reason to get excited.
A range of five different engines will make it easier to find the perfect fit as well. For ultimate power, the 2.0L TSI model produces 210PS and has a 0-60mph time of just 7.6 seconds. At the other end of the scale, the innovative BlueMotion Technology 1.6 TDI engine offers fuel efficiency of 62.8mpg.
Mini One Convertible – From £16,420
Continuing with the theme of legendary inspiration, the latest Mini One Convertible is a great option for thrifty sun-seekers. Retaining much of the classic styling that made its 1960s predecessor so famous around the world, the Mini One has been a huge hit for German manufacturer BMW – in total, more than 2.5 million vehicles have been sold. The canvas-topped version celebrates its tenth birthday this year and still as popular as ever, not just during the summer.
As is the case with the rest of the range, the Mini One Convertible is equipped with a standard 1.6-litre petrol engine, and is capable of reaching 62mph in 11.2 seconds. With a manual gearbox, it’s also possible to achieve 49.6mpg.
Citroen DS3 Cabrio – From £15,205
Citroen has enjoyed some great success in recent times, and its range has no doubt been rejuvenated by the release of the DS3 in 2010. The stylish hatchback’s convertible version – the Cabrio – was first seen in showrooms just last year and is on course to be one of the most popular cars of the impending summer.
The DS3 Cabrio is a little different to some of its closest competitors as its roof is retractable instead of being completely removable. This means that it’s possible to open and close the fabric top at speeds of up to 75mph, which of course you’ll never be reaching anyway!
Audi A3 Convertible – From £25,790
As compact executive cars go, Audi’s A3 is about as popular as it gets. More than 1.5 million can be found on roads and drives across the world, with the availability of a convertible model no doubt helping to boost sales since it was first released in 2008. Fast forward six years and the drop-top model has adopted a saloon-style shape and is making waves in the summer market. Also, despite it being bigger than its predecessor, it’s actually lost 50kg in weight, making it even more efficient.
The 2014 A3 Cabriolet is currently available in three different trim levels – SE, Sport and S-Line – each providing its own benefits. Petrol engine sizes start at 1.4-litre and go up to a rather powerful 1.8-litre, while the diesel variants range from 1.6-litre to a slightly larger 2.0-litre.
BMW 2 Series Convertible – Price TBC
The newest vehicle on this list is so fresh that hasn’t actually found its way to any showrooms yet. Set for release this summer, BMW’s 2 Series Convertible will replace the 1 Series Convertible, which was discontinued in 2013.
The 2 Series’ range of engines is expected to comprise four different 2.0-litre engines to begin with, each offering a different balance of horsepower and efficiency. However, once the standard versions have been released, BMW will look to cater for more power-hungry motorists with the M235i – which will be the newest vehicle to bear the company’s famous ‘M’ emblem.
Some experts are also suggesting that BMW may look to compete with Audi and Mercedes by releasing a four-wheel-drive version as part of its xDrive range.
7th April 2014
Searching for your very first car may represent a daunting prospect at first, but knowing what to look out for and some of the factors to consider will make the process all the more easier.
You’ll want something that performs well enough to help you with gear changes and hill starts, but not something with so much powerful that it causes your insurance premiums to hit unaffordable heights. You may also wish for your car to look the part, although flashy vehicles tend to cost more money.
It’s these dilemmas that keep you wandering around the showroom like a headless chicken. Though if you consider the following, you won’t go far wrong…
Having a vehicle that sips at your fuel rather than guzzling it all at once could save you tens of pounds every single month. First-time car owners put fuel economy high in their list of priorities as they get to grips with the cost of motoring, and so should you.
Some cars look incredibly easy to drive, yet it’s only when you take them out for a test drive that you realise this is far from the case. Never assume that small means good handling and smooth gear changes. Be sure to take up any offers of a test for your vehicle and see whether it suits your driving style.
First-time buyers tend to go for relatively cheap vehicles as they might be scared about damaging something newer, but this all depends on the skill of the driver. If you’re purchasing a car after getting sick and tired of driving your parents’ vehicle around for the last year, you could easily go for something worth over £5,000. A newly passed driver may not be as comfortable on the road, so they might opt for a cheaper selection.
Just remember that going for something inexpensive isn’t always the best route to take. You don’t want to be replacing your ‘new’ vehicle after two months because it’s bitten the dust, and a pricier vehicle may have lasted longer.
Don’t forget security
If you’re investing in an older car, it’s likely that your security features won’t be up to the same standards as some of the latest vehicles on the market. It might be wise to consider additional pieces of kit to boost the security of your vehicle, like tracking software for pinpointing its whereabouts.
This may also save you money on your insurance, as brokers like to see you’re making steps to improve your car’s safety.
Last but not least, if you’re buying a used vehicle, ensure it comes complete with all the necessary documentation. Ask the seller to hand you a copy of the service history manual and the user handbook for you to check that everything’s in working order.
You may also wish to run a background check on the vehicle to allay any suspicions of it being stolen. You can check a car’s history through the DVLA’s very own online database or a similar tool. At the very least, this will give you peace of mind after you’ve eventually got your hands on the keys.
7th April 2014
Ah, the convertible – a car worthy of repeated stares by the people who could only wish they were behind the wheel of something so magnificent. The sporty exterior, the powerful engine, the occasional lack of a roof; owning a drop-top Porsche, Mazda or Mini is every motorist’s dream.
The downside to owning such a sought-after vehicle is that everyone wants one – including the local thieves. Most convertibles will trade for thousands of pounds on the black market, so opportunists should experience no problems in offloading their latest steal once it’s been prized from the owner.
That’s why it’s never been more imperative to invest in security features that not only protect the vehicle while it is sitting on the drive, but also help to get it back in the worst case scenario. Tracking systems are among the most popular types of safeguarding tools for convertibles and for very good reason…
Tracking systems allow you to pinpoint the whereabouts of your vehicle whenever it slips off your radar. The technology is fitted inside your vehicle and its location can be accessed via an online portal. Certain devices are supported by UK police forces, which means you can always hand your account details over to the police if ever your car is stolen.
In most cases this scenario will end with the car returned to its rightful owner – but what makes it so important for convertible owners?
If you’re lucky enough to own a convertible, you’ll be aware of what sets it apart from the rest of the cars on the street. Of course, we’re talking about the roof. However, this is also the one of a handful of features that make the convertible a prime target for thieves.
The roofs on modern soft-top vehicles boast features such as reinforced double-bonded facings and pre-punched plastic extrusions, to ensure the lid fits flush on the supporting frame. While this will make sure the lid stays on the car while it’s parked, the material is still no match for a sharp object and can easily be pierced and torn away by a thief looking to gain access to the inside.
Thus, a tracking system could be the difference between you having to buy a new roof or funding another vehicle.
The classic car
Classic convertibles are even more susceptible to theft due to their paltry security measures. With very few cars constructed before the 1980s sporting immobilisers, enhanced protection glazing on their windows or even a decent alarm, criminals will see these vehicles as sitting ducks.
Of course, changing a thin leather roof for something a little more robust could ruin the car’s vintage appeal, so it pays to invest in security features that can be hidden away. Tracker systems may not be able to prevent your classic vehicle from being broken into, but it could help you get it back.
Finally, given the hefty cost of insuring a convertible, any chance to save on your annual premiums should be snapped up post-haste. Installing a tracker system in your vehicle will show insurance companies that you have measures in place to get your vehicle back if ever it disappears from your drive.
This could result in discounted policies for however long you keep the car, meaning the system effectively pays for itself. You can’t say fairer than that.