Best luxury cars 2021

A luxury car obviously needs sumptuous materials, ride comfort worthy of a magic carpet, and a super-smooth engine. However, models targeting company car drivers must also offer low emissions...


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Best luxury cars 2021

The range of luxury cars on sale is huge, stretching all the way from executive cruisers through to some of the most expensive cars on the road.

What they tend to have in common is superb comfort and refinement. Plus, many offer beautifully finished interiors complete with high-tech entertainment systems and loads of space for rear-seat passengers.

Running costs might seem less important, but luxury saloons are often run as company cars, so CO2 emissions and fuel consumption can actually be key considerations.

Which are the very best models, then, and which are best avoided? Let's start with the top 10:

10

Bentley Flying Spur

There are plenty of luxury cars that make more financial sense than the Flying Spur, and quite a few that offer superior refinement. However, few can match its sense of occasion, so we can certainly see why you might be tempted.

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Target Price from £162,500
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From £194,990

Pros

  • Stunning interior
  • Huge performance
  • Mostly comfortable ride

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Awful visibility
  • Some road noise
9

Volvo S90

After something a little less ostentatious and a lot more affordable? Then this big, Swedish saloon could be just the thing, because it has a spacious and stunning interior, and comes very well equipped. Just bear in mind that it's not especially good to drive.

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Target Price from £57,775
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From £39,990
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From £511pm

Pros

  • Offers excellent passenger space
  • Generous standard kit
  • High quality cabin

Cons

  • Not as comfortable or nimble as its rivals
  • Fiddly touchscreen system
  • Relatively small boot
8

Jaguar XF

Thanks to its precise steering and agile handling, no mainstream luxury saloon is more entertaining than the Jaguar XF, yet it's also comfortable over long distances. The best rivals are quieter, though, and they have classier interiors.

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Target Price from £33,975
or from £438pm
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From £39,799

Pros

  • Brilliant handling
  • Well equipped
  • Undercuts rivals yet comes with tonnes of kit

Cons

  • Interior build quality disappointing
  • 2.0-litre diesel engines aren't very strong
  • Rivals are quieter
7

BMW 7 Series

Despite being a huge car, BMW's latest 7 Series flagship handles well – although the down side of this is a slightly firmer ride than you get in its chief rivals, the Audi A8 and Mercedes S-Class. The 7 Series is also refined and surprisingly fuel-efficient, plus it's available with plenty of impressive gadgets.

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Save up to £26,127
Target Price from £51,080
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or from £533pm
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From £54,450
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From £566pm

Pros

  • Strong engines
  • Brilliant infotainment system
  • Plug-in has exceedingly low CO2 emissions

Cons

  • Busy low speed ride
  • Not quite the driver’s car BMW suggests it is
  • Some versions are very pricey
6

Mercedes E-Class

The latest E-Class is available with a great range of engines, comes very well equipped and is a pretty quiet and comfortable cruiser. However, the low-speed ride could be better and it's not as spacious in the back as key competitors.

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Save up to £1,757
Target Price from £38,607
Save up to £1,757
or from £454pm
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From £33,000
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From £490pm

Pros

  • Punchy and efficient engines
  • Lots of standard equipment
  • Big and clever boot

Cons

  • Not as fun to drive as a 5 Series
  • Relatively weak resale values
  • Rear space tighter than its key rivals
5

Audi A6

This is a cosseting, quiet and technologically advanced saloon that feels beautifully built. Its infotainment system is distracting to use on the move, though, and the automatic gearboxes can be slow-witted, so the A6 has to settle for fifth.

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Save up to £5,410
Target Price from £37,242
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or from £328pm
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From £35,840
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From £360pm

Pros

  • Very quiet engines
  • Spacious interior
  • Excellent build quality

Cons

  • You can’t add many options
  • Hesitant automatic gearboxes
  • Infotainment difficult to use on the move
4

Mercedes S-Class

Not only is the Mercedes S-Class packed to the rafters with technology, but it’s also a very comfortable and exceedingly well-appointed luxury saloon, and one of the best for rear-seat passengers.

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Save up to £3,154
Target Price from £78,087
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or from £1,076pm
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From £87,000
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From £1,047pm

Pros

  • Smooth and responsive S500 petrol engine
  • Feature-packed infotainment system
  • Loads of space inside, especially in the rear of long-wheelbase models

Cons

  • No plug-in hybrid option (yet)
  • An Audi A8 is slightly quieter and more comfortable at times
  • Overly reliant on fiddly touch-sensitive controls
3

Rolls-Royce Ghost

This Rolls-Royce is unbelievably luxurious and comfortable, offering monstrous performance along with serene cruising manners and a truly exquisite interior. For those who can afford to buy and run it – you will not be disappointed.

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Target Price from £261,100
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From £139,950

Pros

  • Outstandingly comfortable ride
  • Fabulous interior
  • Crushing performance

Cons

  • Astronomically expensive to buy
  • Thirsty engine also makes it costly to run
2

Audi A8

The A8’s blend of performance, comfort and serenity are wedded to a beautifully built, practical and well-equipped interior. In fact, by a whisker, it beats its chief rival the Mercedes S Class, which shows just how good it is to drive and be driven in.

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Save up to £8,237
Target Price from £68,191
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or from £833pm
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From £51,640
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From £1,040pm

Pros

  • Extremely comfortable ride
  • Spacious interior and boot
  • Class-leading interior quality

Cons

  • Not as sharp to drive as rivals
  • Expensive to run
  • Dim-witted automatic gearbox on the diesel
1

BMW 5 Series

The latest BMW 5 Series isn't just our reigning Luxury Car of the Year, but a former overall Car of the Year. Whichever version you choose, you’ll be getting one of the classiest and most comfortable cars on sale today, but the 530e plug-in hybrid is particularly good. In fact, we reckon it's the supreme luxury package, without the price tag to match.

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Save up to £8,460
Target Price from £36,794
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or from £398pm
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From £42,440
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From £407pm

Pros

  • Agile and relatively comfortable – when fitted with standard wheels
  • Beautifully made interior
  • Superb infotainment system

Cons

  • Adaptive suspension not available on SE trim
  • A Volvo S90 has bigger rear seats
  • A Mercedes E-Class has a bigger boot

And the luxury cars to avoid...

Aston Martin Rapide S

Aston Martin makes some fantastic cars these days, but the Rapide S isn't one of them. It's noisy, the ride is unsettled and the handling nothing special, while the interior is seriously cramped. Read our review

Maserati Ghibli

It may have swanky looks, but the Ghibli is off the pace in most other areas. The diesel engine, which most people buy, is noisy and comparatively inefficient, plus the Ghibli isn't particularly comfortable or sharp to drive and its infotainment feels dated. Read our review