When it comes to British luxury cars the badge to be seen behind is definitely the Bentley one. Not as louche as a Roller, or as common as an Aston, the Flying Spur is a sporting limo that takes all the elegance and luxury for which the brand is known and then adds its own special sprinkle of high performance. Performance? The 552bhp 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 engine under its bonnet can push this heavyweight Bentley up to nearly 200mph, and it corners, despite its bulk, with reasonable ability if not true agility. It rides pretty well, too, and it’s all wonderfully hushed. It’s comfortable, desirable, and the interior is of course traditionally decked out in acres of wood and leather. Expect immense fun, and even more enormous running costs.
Think Porsche and some some fast and possibly fractious rear-engined supercar might spring to mind. What probably won’t is the Panamera which, when all's said and done, is merely a very fast and very large hatchback. Worse, though the Panamera has always been billed as the four-door 911, its looks have never quite lived up to that handle. However, think again. The Panamera is jolly quick, handles well and has a luxurious and sporting interior. In fact, inside it is the best place to be, because it drives beautifully, and from the inside you can’t see the outside. Now, good used ones seem relatively cheap. It might cost a lot to maintain a Panamera, but it’ll probably be worth it.
5. Jaguar XJ
The XJ has always been the creamiest cat in the Jag range, from the 1968 Series One with its grace, space and pace right up to this all-new 2009 and onwards version. Strikingly different in its styling, it equalled previous Jaguar standards in ride quality and refinement and shattered them in terms of driving pleasure. Here is a car with muscular performance and supremely agile handling wrapped up in the body of a luxury limo. Inside the XJ brings a touch of modernity to the trad wood and leather look, and there’s plenty of kit for your money. You might be concerned by the trad Jag build quality, too, but so far there are no reports of any major issues.
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