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Top Gear mag's greatest cars - luxury

These cars will all be up against the wall when the revolution comes. Enjoy them while you can

  • For Top Gear magazine's 300th issue, we celebrated the best 50 cars over 299 issues: here's our pick of the best luxury cars

     

    Luxury is mostly about perspective. My grandfather thought luxury involved an indoor toilet, and my son feels that anything less than an iPhone 6 is borderline abusive, so when defining “luxurious”, it’s always best to know what your target audience is looking for, and what they expect. And in the case of Top Gear’s idea of luxury, it has always involved technology, engineering solidity and comfort, wrapped in fine materials and dipped in attention to detail. An ability to insulate you from the chronic pressures of the outside world, full of thoughtful craftsmanship and unexpected delight. And during the 300 issues that Top Gear magazine has been in existence, we’ve seen many takes on what it means to be luxurious, not all of them successful.

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  • Why? Because “luxury” does not equate to “bling”. The Mercedes Maybach 57/62 back in ’98 may have had solid silver champagne flutes and chintzy ruched blinds, but it took itself far too seriously for a gussied-up contemporary S-Class, and fell pretty much flat. Because luxury has more class than just metaphorical – and sometimes literal – gold plating. A standard S-Class, for example, is one of the cars that knows exactly what it hopes to achieve. And it’s the S-Class that gets a big vote as one of TG’s premier luxury vehicles across the expanse of the past 20-plus years, because it takes a subtle, considered look at technological comfort. The current car embodies the modern luxury car – not because it is infused with character, but because it deals with everything you could possibly need, just before you realise you need it. Like a good butler.

  • Another that stands out starkly is the Rolls-Royce Phantom. The Rolls oozes character in a way many cars only manage in their wildest dreams. It makes you sit up straighter, be more polite, douses you with near silence and quiet competence. Presented deliberately simply, in a way that the S-Class is wantonly technological, the Phantom is perhaps the most complete observation of what it takes to be a luxurious motor car. And the third car in Top Gear’s top luxury cars? It has to be the Range Rover. A car born of need, that transformed itself into the subtle, comfortable, deal- with-anything limousine SUV. A car that manages to be a little bit of everything, without – quite – the in-yer-face moneyed entitlement of either the Rolls or the Mercedes. The common thread is obvious; it takes more than just flash to
    be luxurious. It takes time, skill, and thought. And yes, quite a lot of money.

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  • Range Rover

    WHAT WE SAID THEN
    This technically advanced and contemporary-looking machine finally does justice to the corporate catchphrase: “The Best 4x4xFar”

    WHAT WE SAY NOW
    Despite aerodynamics of a three-bed semi, there are fewer finer ways of killing distance – whether on road or several hundred miles off it. The original luxe SUV and still comfortably the best

  • Rolls-Royce Phantom

    WHAT WE SAID THEN
    All efforts were said to have been focused on creating a new car with the presence, comfort and effortless oomph that are known collectively – apparently – as ‘waftability’ 

    WHAT WE SAY NOW
    14 years after its launch, the Phantom still looks and feels imperious. New model will keep the showroom ticking over, but doubtful it’ll actually be a better luxury car

  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class

    WHAT WE SAID THEN
    Going from 0 to 62mph in 4.8 seconds is quick for a car half as big. In an S-Class, it’s nothing short of magnificent 

    WHAT WE SAY NOW
    A rolling demonstrator for Germany’s obsession with build quality and technology – life is quite simply better when you’re sitting in the back of, or driving, an S-Class doing 155mph on the Autobahn

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