In the premium executive segment there are a handful of manufacturers vying to be top of the class, so can a British manufacturer take on the Germans?
The BMW 7 Series - from £64,530
First up is the 7 Series from BMW, the model is now into its sixth generation with huge amounts of comfort and technology featured on it.
With leather throughout, dashes of chrome and wood trim make the cabin very sophisticated and with extremely snug, comfortable seats the drive will feel effortless.
The optional panoramic double sunroof lets in plenty of light and rear passengers will benefit from a lot of head and leg room.
With the intuitive iDrive display screen that can be operated by BMW’s new Gesture control, you can answer phone calls, control navigation and play about with media just by waving your hand at the screen. Another cool addition is the ability for the car to park itself using the display on the key fob. Technology lovers will adore this model.
There are various petrol and diesel engines to choose from including a 3.0-litre diesel which produces 265hp with a stonking 620Nm of torque. It also emits just 132g/km of CO2 so will cost £130 annually and has a combined mpg figure of 58.9.
The BMW 7-Series has a comfortable ride, coming as standard is self-levelling air suspension and for those wanting to tackle a variety of road surfaces with the model, for the first time their XDrive four-wheel-drive system is available giving even more grip on challenging terrain.
It’s quite an agile car, it maybe a saloon but it weighs a lot less than the previous generation and steering feedback is really good.
Does the winner of the Best Luxury Car in the UK Car of the Year 2016 awards have enough to take on its German rival?
Audi A8 - from £62,010
The Audi A8 is the only car in our group test that hasn’t been updated for 2016 and it was a couple of years ago since it had its last facelift.
Even though the cabin is very smart, simple and well built, it has started to look a bit dated and the walnut brown trim doesn’t help its cause. The brushed aluminium inlays are a lifesaver though in the style stakes and with touches like the illuminated door sills and the LED ambient lighting it still has some design cues to take on its rivals.
With full leather throughout as standard and electrically adjustable front seats, that can be adjusted 22 different ways, then comfort won’t be an issue with the A8. Rear seats can also be reclined and adjusted at the press of a button, but that is an option and one that will set you back nearly £5,000.
The Audi A8 uses their MMI Touch system which niftily lets you write using your finger on a touchpad, inputting data like letters for an address into the navigation system. It works really well working in conjunction with a clear display screen, which also conceals itself into the centre stack. A driver will also benefit from a 7-inch, high-resolution screen displaying navigation, media and car information.
There are just two diesel engines available, a 3.0-litre or a 4.2-litre TDI quattro. The latter has 385PS while the 3.0-litre V6 produces 262PS with 580Nm of torque and gets from 0-62mph in just 5.9 seconds. Pretty good figure considering how large the car is. It also emits just 149g/km of CO2 so road tax will be £145 annually and if you drive it efficiently it could be possible to get nearly 50mpg.
The Audi A8 comes with their quattro all-wheel drive system so you can be assured of a controlled drive with plenty of traction, while the as standard adaptive air suspension gives it a perfect, stable and comfortable ride.
Is the flagship Audi model luxurious enough to take on Jaguar’s offering?
Jaguar XJ - £58,690
The Jaguar XJ has been refreshed for 2016 to keep up with rivals and offers plenty of refinement, high levels of quality and premium luxury, packaged up into a well-engineered car.
All of the three cars in the group test offer high levels of comfort and the XJ adds a sleekness to the cabin that gives it it’s edge over rivals with chrome and black gloss finishes accentuating its high quality feel.
Drivers will love the 12.3-inch TFT digital instrument cluster as it’s clear, informative and brings the car right up to date replacing the dated analogue look, with the possibility of displaying full navigation - no excuses for getting lost.
InControl Touch Pro is Jaguar’s new state of the art system which works with your smartphone, so you can stay connected with the outside world while on the move using the onboard wifi. It is also possible to remotely heat up the car via your phone - ideal for winter mornings when the last thing you want to do is get into a cold car.
Jaguar have produced a stunning model with engines to match, there is a 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol producing 340PS and a turbocharged diesel equivalent propelling the XJ from 0-62mph in just 5.9 seconds using 300PS with an enormous 700Nm of torque. This is no slouch and has CO emissions of just 149g/km so will cost £145 per year.
For power crazy drivers, then the XJR model comes with 5.0-litre V8 petrol that produces 550PS.
Jaguar have produced a car that is solidly built, rides well which is aided by the Adaptive Dynamics system for a smoother drive and they’ve also added their All-Surface Progress Control system which assists the XJ with traction at lower speeds.
Executive saloon price
Naturally the Jaguar wins this as it’s the cheapest out of the three, yet as with all of them once you start adding options costs can spiral out of control and it’ll turn into a very expensive purchase. If you’re looking for a bit more room, then they’re all available as a long-wheelbase model.
Which is the best?
The BMW 7-Series just has the edge over its competitors, helped by the fact it’s a completely new generation so has even more luxury and technology available and a wider choice of engines.
It has very strong competition from Jaguar, but it’ll be interesting to see what Audi will come up with when the fourth generation A8 finally hits the roads.