Some of us buy cars because of their looks, their driving experience, their practicality or their luxurious interiors. While most cars typically have one of these features, only the most prestigious models have them all. If, like our reader, you’re lucky enough to spend £40,000 on a fancy car, read on to see our top picks.
Top 10 best used executive cars 2022
Traditionally, upscale luxury cars have always been large sedans, but today they come in all shapes and sizes. The Mercedes S-Class has been a favorite of dignitaries, drivers and business magnates for decades. However, with the current SUV craze, many are turning to Mercedes’ large SUVs, such as the GLS, as well as other luxury 4x4s and crossovers, such as the Bentley Bentayga and BMW X7.
One of the main aspects that sets these cars apart from their plebeian counterparts is their luxurious cabins. In this car class it is common to find leather upholstery that extends from the seats to the dashboard and even the headliner. Models such as the BMW 7 Series have huge infotainment screens, while others, such as the Lexus LS, have electrically adjustable, massaging seats to further pamper the rear passengers.
Of course, all these brilliant features mean nothing if the car doesn’t have the credit to back it up. Many of these vehicles are driver-driven and a car badge can be seen by many as a reflection of the owner; a Mercedes three-pointed star on the hood exudes more Waitrose parking cachet than the equivalent Mitsubishi.
As you can expect, premium cars tend to have an equally premium price. The Audi A8 starts from over £70,000, with top specs costing north of £100,000. Fortunately, the wonders of depreciation means that after a few years, many of these cars will resurface on the used market at prices that are much easier to swallow.
We searched online and found three of the best cars for our reader’s budget, all of which are as tempting as they are stylish. If you’re looking for something newer, why not check out our list of the Top 10 Best Luxury Cars? Keep reading to find out which of these extensive lists is our favorite.
The practical choice: Audi Q7
FOR: Seven seats, strong build quality, impressive technology
AGAINST: Air suspension not standard, conservative style
The Audi Q7 may lack the ultimate cachet of the Range Rover, but it is nevertheless a very appealing car. With seven seats above the five of its rivals, and a cabin that combines minimalism with technological cool; it is an impressive beast. It is also very comfortable, especially if you can find a model with air suspension. It feels stable and planted on a cruise, while providing decent maneuverability for a car of its size on B-roads.
The Audi Q7 is the only one of these three seven-seat cars, giving it an immediate practical advantage over the similarly sized Range Rover. And while you don’t get a fancy split-folding tailgate, you do get an impressive 770 liters of cargo space all the way to the parcel shelf with five seats in place. The Q7’s cabin looks sleek, sleek and modern, with Audi’s keen eye for excellent choice of materials and pleasing aesthetics shining through. Another plus of this SUV is the intuitive, versatile infotainment system and the excellent digital dashboard of the virtual cockpit.
We found an 18-plate Q7 3.0-litre TDI (268bhp, 47.1mpg, 0-62mph 6.5 seconds) in S Line trim with 33,500 miles for a little over £38,000.
The luxury choice: Mercedes S-Class
FOR: Fast and economical, impeccable ride quality
AGAINST: Lacks SUV functionality, recently replaced
Although the new S-Class is a very seductive limousine, its predecessor remains a good choice for those looking for a luxury car. With air suspension as standard, it offers a better ride quality than anything else at this price point, while models with the optional ‘Magic Body Control’ system sense the road for bumps and adjust the suspension. Every version of the S-Class is fast, while handling is assured.
Practically, comparing a sedan to a few SUVs is somewhat unfair, but the S-Class puts up a good fight nonetheless. This luxury limo has plenty of head and legroom in the back seat, and even more if you opt for a long wheelbase one. The 510 liter boot is also not exactly small, even if it lacks the practicality inherent in a model with an SUV body. The Mercedes’ interior is both luxurious and packed with technology, while at highway speeds you’ll struggle to hear wind or engine noise, something aided by its lower profile than the Range Rover and Q7.
We found an 18-plate S 350 d (282 hp, 52.4 mpg, 0-62 mph in 6.0 seconds) with 31,000 miles on sale for £38,500.
The classic choice: Range Rover
FOR: Strong image, practical tailgate, smooth ride
AGAINST: Less choice on the used market, so-so infotainment
Land Rover arguably invented the luxury SUV when it launched the original Range Rover, and the current model carries that legacy well. This could be an all-terrain car, but the standard adaptive damping and air suspension make it extremely smooth on the road. It’s at its best on the highway, but still rides well despite its massive scale.
The Range Rover is two seats lower than what the Audi Q7 has to offer, but the split-folding tailgate allows you to open the rear window if you want to pack smaller items in the trunk, or sit on the lower part if you want to change muddy . boots for example. And while the 909-litre boot, which Land Rover claims is measured to the roofline (other carmakers only measure to the parcel shelf), don’t be under any illusions that this is anything but a highly practical car. The Range Rover’s cabin is another highlight, with an imperious driving position and top quality wood, leather and carpet throughout. It’s just a shame the infotainment isn’t all that impressive, especially when you look at previous examples of the Range Rover.
Speaking of previous examples, despite an all-new model on the way, you’ll be looking at older cars with this budget. You can get a 3.0-litre TDV6 with 15 discs (254 hp, 40.9 mpg, 0-62 mph in 7.9 seconds) in Vogue trim and with 45,000 miles for a £40k stunner.
The car buyer’s choice:
The Mercedes S-Class is the default choice for many when it comes to luxury cars and it’s easy to see why. Despite now having a newer model, this generation of S-Class still features what feels like a cutting edge infotainment system and the interior still has plenty of wow factor. The Range Rover may be more spacious, but the Merc’s 510-litre boot is still big enough for most people, and is larger than that in many SUVs. The S-Class is definitely a purchase that should be kept in mind – for those looking for something a little more understated and sensible, we’d probably recommend opting for the Audi Q7 instead.
Do you want a comfortable cruiser for your commute? Check out our list of the Top 10 best large executive cars