If you walk, a bicycle is luxurious. If you cycle in the rain with cramping calves, a bus becomes an affluent lifeboat, even if you do have to share the top deck with a man who smells of boiled cabbage and defeat.
But if you have to deal with the vagaries of public transport on a regular basis, and eventually people who smell of far worse than vegetables and melancholy, then even a 1989 Toyota Corolla that whiffs lightly of damp Alsatian and long-dead cigarettes can seem grand. And thus we find that any concept of luxury is always a mutation formed though the lens of situation.
But a luxury car has always had a bit of a blueprint. Long and limousiney. In fact, when the concept of a luxury car was formed, there were far fewer niches to fill, and hence far less opportunity for cross-pollinationand side-stepping of the hierarchy. A traditional luxury car has up until now been a barge, weighed down with marquetry and self-importance, but when we talk about the contemporary experience of luxe, the game has moved on. These days, a luxury car doesn’t need to be a wallowing mobile humidor. Modern global luxury is SUV-shaped.
Photography: John Wycherley
This feature was originally published in Issue 284 of Top Gear magazine.