Motoring: 7 of the best premium saloons
The enduring popularity of premium saloons has, if anything, been boosted in recent years by technological and engine innovation.
These big beasts are now virtually mobile computers, with multiple ways to connect to mobile broadband and increasing abilities to drive themselves in all but the most challenging conditions.
Additionally, they are not all the gigantic gas-guzzlers of recent times, with frugal diesels and very economical hybrid versions coming increasingly to the fore.
This has meant that running costs, once the scourge of this class, are becoming more affordable.
It’s a market dominated by the big German brands, but in our list of favourites we’ve also included British, Japanese and Italian options here, too as other manufacturers continue to raise their game in this important segment.
1. BMW 7 Series
Replete with a plush, gadget-laden cabin, BMW’s flagship car represents the pinnacle of the brand.
It’s very reliable and is built for long-distance motoring, although boot space isn’t best in class. Range-topping models can be very expensive but they are the very peak of BMW-ness.
Price: £59k - £130k.
2. Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Big, luxurious and beloved by chauffeurs and chief executives alike, the S-Class Merc is a legend.
There’s a brilliant range of engines including a diesel-electric hybrid and a super-fast AMG petrol model.
For the last word in luxury, specify the Executive Rear and comfort packs for goodies like reclining rear seats, fold-out tables and a wi-fi hotspot.
Price: from £69k.
3. Audi A8
Audi’s offering in this class is the A8; and a brand new one has just been launched.
The new A8 rockets it to the top of the class in a range of capabilities not least technological.
It’s the first production car in the world to have been developed for highly automated driving.
From 2018, Audi will gradually be taking piloted driving functions such as parking pilot, garage pilot and traffic jam pilot into production. Which means at times you’ll be able to take your hands off the wheel.
4. Jaguar XF
This is a cat that’s luxurious, great to drive, and comes with a wide range of diesel engines.
Performance, handling and boot space are all good, and reliability, whilst not up there with the Germans, is good.
Seat comfort and ride quality are great; and it makes a nice change from the usual BMW-Merc-Audi trio in terms of style and attitude.
Price: from £63k.
5. Maserati Quattroporte
Now in its sixth-generation, the Quattroporte is a luxurious alternative from a stylish Italian manufacturer.
You get lovely internal finishing, great handling and a nice choice of engines: a 273bhp 3.0 V6 diesel, a 408bhp twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 S petrol and a very quick 527bhp twin-turbo 3.8 V8 GTS.
The sixth-generation Quattroporte heralds a new era for Maserati as it strives towards a target of ever-increasing sales targets.
Price: from £70k.
6. Porsche Panamera Mk 2
The Panamera is that rare Porsche: a four-seater saloon-type car. But fear not, it drives like a proper Porsche and is very luxurious inside.
You get a good load space accessible via a hatch-back style rear end, lots of technology and it’s a Porsche that can be used as an everyday family car. What’s not to like about that?
Price: from £68k
7. Lexus LS 600h
Big, bold, a great motorway cruiser – and kinder to the environment.
The Lexus LS 600h was Lexus’s first petrol-electric hybrid, and is the pinnacle of the company’s offering.
It’s stuffed with technology, too and received a facelift recently. The engine is a big 5.0-litre V8 petrol, but it can run on its electric motor alone for short, virtually pollution-free, periods.
Price: from £70k.
Belfast Telegraph Digital