We reveal the winner and the full shortlist for the best luxury car of 2016, as voted for by our independent jury of experts.
Luxury cars have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, with many of them capable of being dangerously fast, frugal and fabulously luxurious. A case of having your cake and eating it, if you will, except here the cake is typically expensive.
Anyone with deep enouch pockets can have virtually anything they want in a luxury car, including a starry roof, scented cabin, massage seats and even a fly fishing set. Customisation and creature comforts aplenty.
So what separates the best? A car that manages to be both comfortable and involving, fast and graceful, capable of turning heads without bearing garish. Our shortlist represents the cars that tick those boxes.
There can, of course, only be one king – here is our winner and the original shortlist.
Best luxury car 2016 winner: BMW 7 Series
The BMW 7 Series topped our list last year for good reason ─ we think it is a supremely talented luxury cruiser and the addition of standard and long-wheelbase hybrid versions in more recent times make it an even more versatile proposition.
The ability to travel 29 miles without the engine drinking a sip of fuel makes it perfect for short journeys, while the instant torque of the virtually silent electric motor only enhances its ability to glide from A to B in style and comfort at a lower price than some of its rivals.
“Hybrid powertrains really suit the luxury end of the market and the 7 Series is proof,” Recombu associate editor Ben Griffin commented. “A powerful blend of luxury, fancy gadgets, eco-friendliness and refinement make it a winner, especially as the addition of an electric motor does nothing to diminish how pleasing it is to drive.”
Best luxury car of the year: The shortlist
Mercedes has always been tough to beat and the new S-Class is no different. Besides offering a sizable dose of creature comforts, including massage seats, ambient lighting to change the mood of the cabin and even a scent dispenser to keep everything fresh, it looks the part and drives well, too.
The suspension does a wonderful job of keeping undulations and potholes at bay, while road noise is almost non-existent and all the available engines, including the hybrid, do their best to ensure you arrive on time and in total comfort, helping justify its high price tag.
BMW 7 Series
We loved the 7 Series so much last year that it was voted our favourite luxury car. This year, we drove the plug-in hybrid versions and found them to be as comfortable, well-equipped and likable to drive, but with added eco-friendliness.
With an all-electric range of 29 miles, it is possible to save fuel and enjoy almost silent motoring, with just 54g/km of CO2 emitted, making it tempting for business users. Whether you opt for all-wheel drive or not, the 7 Series is an extremely capable car and one that makes travel on four wheels about as pleasant and smooth as it gets.
SUVs provide a greater level of flexibility if you ever need to go off road, but the headline of Bentley’s Bentayga is the level of pace. Four-seaters that can do 187mph are rare, although its 6.0-litre, 600bhp W12 was never going to let the Bentayga be slow – even if it has to lug around 2,440kg.
Step inside and the hand-crafted interior presents itself, with only a few minor blemishes diminishing from the feel of luxury, while the likes of soft-close doors, an eight-inch touchscreen, panoramic roof and bespoke wood and veneer finishes enhance the comfort. For ferrying around a (very rich) family, few cars are as fast and capable.
Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II
Ignore the fact the hugely expensive Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II has a lot in common with the BMW 7 Series, the craftmanship and attention to detail is in another league, as you would expect from a car that cost more than most houses.
Besides being the pinnacle in luxury interiors, the BMW-derived 6.6-litre V12 offers 563bhp so it can get you from your manor house to the golf course in rapid fashion. Even at 2.5 tonnes and 5.3 metres in length, the Rolls-Royce Ghost Saloon offers a rewarding drive with surprising levels of control and agility.
A Jaguar SUV always seemed strange (not quite Bentley SUV strange, but close), plus the F-Pace name was a bit ‘face-palm’. It is fortunate, then, the British off-roader is luxurious, fast, potent in the handling department and manages to look like a Jaguar.
Go for the engine in the F-Type and it blasts along nicely, with the likes of a WiFi hotspot, adjustable leather seats, autonomous emergency braking and Jaguar’s infotainment system ensuring it offers impressive levels of luxury at better value for money than its rivals.