Top 10 best luxury cars 2023

Open gallery Close News by Illya Verpraet 12 mins read 3 May 2023 Follow @illyaverpraet Share

A luxury car was once synonymous with a large limousine saloon but that hasn’t been the case for quite a long time. A lot of those traditional saloons – the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8 – still feature on this list, but they have been joined by a number of SUVs. Many are now available with plug-in hybrid powertrains, as well as the usual large-capacity diesels and V8s. There are even some EVs here.

Regardless of bodystyle and method of propulsion, they need to offer outstanding comfort in the front and back seats, isolating ride and noise refinement, and a sumptuous interior. For many owners, these cars will also be status symbols above all.

Today’s car makers are technology companies as much as automobile manufacturers, so these flagship cars need to impress with the technology on offer too, without any of it feeling an after-thought or gimmick.

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This list takes in cars that are incredibly comfortable, great to drive and great to be driven in – and the ones at the top of our rankings are capable of more besides. Our super-luxury cars top 10, meanwhile, is where you will find the even pricier Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Mercedes-Maybach models.

The 10 best luxury cars currently on sale

1. BMW i7 and BMW 7 Series

If you need proof of how serious BMW is about staking its claim on luxury car glory, then consider the fact the i7 (and its ICE-powered 7 Series sibling) will only be available in leg-stretching long-wheelbase guise. While the previous six generations of the brand’s flagship saloons have placed as much emphasis on driver delight and pampering passengers, this all-new model is all about five-star cosseting and cutting-edge tech.

It’s the all-electric i7 that arrives first, but regardless of motive power, you’re unlikely to lose the big BMW in a crowd. Not only is it a vast machine, but the slab-sided styling and gargantuan front grille also mean that the 7 Series is a ‘challenging’ aesthetic proposition.

Not so the interior, which melds all the latest technology with traditional craftsmanship and a rich array of natural materials, including the surprisingly indulgent cashmere wool trim you can choose for the seats. As you’d expect, there’s acres of space to lounge around in, while additions such as the 31.3in BMW Theatre Screen for rear-seat passengers takes in-car entertainment to the next level. There’s also the usual widescreen display ahead of the driver, but the retention of an iDrive rotary controller means you’re not subjugated to the total tyranny of a touchscreen interface.

Using a twin-motor set-up and a 102kWh battery, the i7 is good for 536bhp, a claimed range of 367 miles and 0-62mph in 4.7sec. Less impressive is a kerb weight just shy of 2800kg. However, while performance is strong and the 7 Series handles with the polish and precision you expect (there’s four-wheel steering for improved agility), it’s the new-found sense of comfort that really sets the i7 apart from its predecessors, the supple and controlled ride easily matching the best efforts of the Range Rover and Mercedes S-Class. Factor in hushed refinement and the latest 7 Series finally delivers the luxury goods its forebears never quite managed to nail.


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Later this year the i7 will be joined by a pair of plug-in hybrids, but until then the i7 remains a deeply impressive addition to the upper-class saloon firmament.

Save money with new BMW 7 Series deals and BMW i7 deals from What Car?

2. Mercedes-Benz S-Class

BMW may have knocked it out of the park with the latest 7 Series, but the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is still the default option for good reason. It was last redesigned in 2020, embracing digitisation more than ever before.

In that respect, it has undoubtedly succeeded. The cabin feels reassuringly traditional yet avant garde, and the scope of the vast displays manages to avoid the jarring omnipresence seen with other manufacturers’ cars. Ambient lighting and connectivity are very well executed, and beneath it all, barring one or two ergonomic shortfalls, resides one of the most materially comfortable and cosseting places to sit while the miles ease by, for driver and passenger. In an age of ever more ludicrously grandiose grilles, the S-Class’s relatively subtle exterior design should also stand it in good stead in Europe.

If you want your big Merc with a big battery pack instead of an engine, you need to look towards the Mercedes EQS, which is an entirely fresh take on the electric luxury car and shares next to nothing with its more traditional counterpart, unlike the BMW 7 series and i7 twins. There’s very little wrong with the S-Class’s range of petrol, diesel and hybrid powertrains, though. The line-up tends to shift with availability, but you usually get a choice between the S350d or S400d diesel, or an S500 petrol, which also gets mild-hybrid assistance. The diesels are pleasingly real-world frugal and smooth, and the S400d has all the performance that a car of this brief would ever need, but the S500 offers an even quicker (and yet still suitable quiet and smooth) 400bhp-plus option should you want it. There’s also the plug-in petrol-electric S580e with a combined might of 503bhp, the ability to travel up to 64 miles in electric-only mode and a more manageable company car tax bill than the combustion-only models.

In some ways, though, it feels as though progress has stalled somewhat. The plug-in hybrid powertrain of our S580e sets new class standards for efficiency and versatility, but cabin isolation and ride quality seem no better than before. Where an S-Class used to challenge Rolls-Royce in terms of road manners, the British marque is now a clear step ahead, and while we’ve not driven the ICE BMW 7 Series in the UK, the i7 suggests that might be ahead of the Merc too. The new S-Class is a fantastically opulent way to travel, but no longer is it breathtakingly so.

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