Best buys: Luxury Cars
The best one: Mercedes-Benz S-Class
If the S-Class’ crown as the ultimate in luxury cars has slipped just a touch, then that’s most likely because the new E-Class, cheaper to buy but hardly any less impressive, is stealing a portion of its thunder. Even so, the big S remains one of the most impressive cars in existence, and no, you don’t even have to upgrade to the XXL Maybach model to appreciate that.
Actually, the S-Class’ range is exceptionally broad, stretching from the frugal, fuel-sipping S500E plugin hybrid and the hybrid diesel 300H, all the way to the insane 630hp, turbo V12-engined S65 AMG. Perfection lies somewhere in between, with the sensible crowd going for the mid-range S350 V6 diesel, and others going for the 585hp S63 AMG V8, just so that they can get to Davos that much quicker. Interiors are sumptuous and silent (although again, an E-Class does it almost as well) and you really need a long wheelbase model to pay proper homage to your back-seat passengers. Utterly gorgeous S-Class Coupe is now available for those who just don’t care about back-seat passengers.
Best model: S500 LWB for €137,100.
Price range: €92,210 to €338,160. Finance from €1,160 per month.
Co2 emissions: 80 to 400g/km.
Sum up: Your car awaits, Mr or Madam president.
Worthy contender: Range Rover
Not Sport. Not Evoque. Not the new Velar. We’re talking about the original, big, plus-size, full-fat Range Rover, the scion of the 1970 original, a car that changed motoring forever. Okay, so the big Range Rover has its faults. The cabin could be a little more interesting to look at, it will seat only five (if you want seven seats you have to trade down to a Range Rover Sport), it’s not as engaging to drive as some rivals (BMW X5 most notably) and Land Rover still has a long way to go to convince us of the Rangie’s reliability and build quality. All of which said, if you had a bucket of money, this is still the one you’d buy.
Few cars look as impressive or as imposing on the road, and when even Bentley tried to create a rival, the subsequent Bentayga looks like the remnants of a dog’s breakfast. It’s incredibly refined on the road, supremely comfortable, and when the winds lash and the snow falls, you’ll still get home without breaking a sweat. The V6 diesel is more than sufficient, but the big V8 oil-burner is an exercise in refined power.
Best model: 3.0 TDV6 Vogue for €137,665.
Price range: €118,885 to €282,600. Finance from €POA per month.
Co2 emissions: 164 to 299g/km.
Sum up: Motorised royalty.
Worthy contender: BMW 7 Series
A bit like the 5 Series, the current 7 has changed dramatically in character from previous generations to this one. Older versions were big and luxurious, yes, but had a sense of connectedness and driver engagement that seemed at odds with their primary missions, even if it was enjoyable from the front seats.
The current model is much more concerned with luxury, all but matching the S-Class for mile-munching refinement and quietness. Get a long wheelbase version, especially with the 320hp 740d diesel engine, and you’ve basically got a ground-bound private jet. Explore the electronic settings, though, and there’s fun to be had. Sport mode brings back just enough of the old 7 Series agility to be fun, while Comfort Plus mode makes it so squashy and comfortable it turns into a mid-1980s Citroen CX. The 740e plugin hybrid is the one to have if you live in town, V12-engined M760i if you want to go really nuts.
Best model: 740Ld xDrive for €115,030.
Price range: €96,330 to €248,810. Finance from €POA per month.
Co2 emissions: 49 to 294g/km.
Sum up: Big luxury, still fun.
Wild Card: Tesla Model S
At last it’s here, officially, in Ireland and at last we can bask in the magnificence of Elon Musk’s great creation. Well, mostly anyway. The Tesla Model S is pretty much equal parts intriguing, exciting, brilliant, and frustrating. First off, yes it has big range. Even if you’re being silly, you should be able to get a reliable 300km out of one charge, and the official range goes up beyond 600km for a 100D model.
Secondly, yes it’s incredibly fast. Activate “Ludicrous Mode” (it refers to an old Mel brooks movie) in the P100D model and you’ll beat a Porsche 911 Turbo to 100kmh. It’s also reasonably roomy. There’s no LWB model (yet) but five sit in comfort and you can have rear-facing jump seats in the boot for the kids. That huge touchscreen, which dominates the cabin, is sheer brilliance, and the electric power train is smooth and lovely to use. It’s only okay to drive though – good, but not as good as a Mercedes-Benz E-Class or a BMW 5 Series – and the quality of the cabin isn’t good enough for a car with a starting price of €83,000. Still, it’s all but unquestionably the future of motoring, and it’s still fun, which has got to be a good thing.
Best model: P100D for €178,499.
Price range: €80,902 to €178,499. Finance from €773 per month.
Co2 emissions: 0g/km.
Sum up: The future’s bright.