Jaguar XF, £32,300-£49,945
An all-new Jaguar XF is about to land in showrooms, but you’ll do well to spot the difference. With an aluminium structure in place of steel, the new XF is lighter, more fuel-efficient and significantly more agile, despite being bigger, to compete with German rivals and to distance itself from its new smaller brother, the XE.
The new XF also looks more aggressive thanks to its bigger grille and lower roofline, but it’s in the cabin that the most progress has been made. The dash has a touchscreen multimedia display that is a huge leap forward from what went before.
Like the Land Rover Discovery Sport, the XF is available with the company’s Ingenium 2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, which comes with either 161bhp or 177bhp. It’s muscular, frugal, clean and smooth, but can be a tad vocal. As a result you might want to go for the V6 diesel in the XF S, but that’s £10,000 more than the most costly four-cylinder XF. So it’s probably better to accept the extra noise and enjoy the lower road tax and fuel bills.
- OUR PICK Jaguar XF 2.0D 180 Prestige auto (£34,550)
- POWER 177bhp @ 4000rpm
- PERFORMANCE 0-62mph: 7.7sec
- TOP SPEED 142mph
- FUEL | CO2 65.7mpg (combined) | 114g/km
BMW 7-series, £64,530-£75,710
Whether you want your executive car in compact, mid-size or full-on luxury form, BMW has the answer with its 3, 5 and 7-series. All are accomplished and hugely desirable, but here we’re singling out the 7-series because it’s an all-new car you’ll soon be seeing on UK roads.
We drove a prototype in the spring and it was clear this was something special. Weight has been cut through the use of carbon fibre, giving better fuel consumption, improving performance and aiding agility — the latter helped by an accomplished adaptive damping system.
Next year there’ll be a plug-in hybrid, but when sales start in October the choice is between 730d diesel and 740Li petrol units. Most will opt for the former, rated at up to 62.8mpg. For the first time there’s also an xDrive four-wheel-drive option, offering great road-holding and control.
What will really mark out the new car, though, is the gadgetry, including a 10¼in touchscreen that also responds to gesture controls. It’s worthy of a flagship car, but whether it’ll tempt buyers away from their S-classes remains to be seen.
- OUR PICK BMW 730d xDrive (£67,260)
- POWER 265bhp @ 4000rpm
- ACCELERATION 0-62 mph: 5.8sec
- TOP SPEED 155mph
- FUEL | CO2 132g/km (combined) | 56.5mpg
Mercedes S-class, £73,375-£182,750
The BMW 7-series may be a great car, but it’s got a problem — it’s not a Mercedes S-class. For many, that’s an insurmountable hurdle, because for them the flagship Merc saloon is in a class of one. Since it arrived in the 1950s it has represented the pinnacle of automotive progress for safety, comfort and performance.
There’s no finer long-distance cruiser than this. If you’re driving, stick with the regular model, but if not, the back of a long-wheelbase S-class with its extra 5in of rear legroom is the place to be.
With petrol, diesel and hybrid engines you’re spoilt for choice, especially as there are V8 and V12 units offering up to 630bhp, but the only rational choice — and by far the biggest seller — is the S 350 with its 3-litre V6 diesel.
Whatever you buy it’ll feature so much kit that you’ll need a week to work out how to use it. There’s a mind-boggling array of features in the 12.3in multimedia system; even the cabin’s ambient lighting system offers seven colours. You need to move up several price brackets to a Rolls-Royce to find a better luxury car.
- OUR PICK Mercedes S 350 AMG Line (£68,990)
- POWER 258bhp @ 3600rpm
- ACCELERATION 0-62mph: 6.8sec
- TOP SPEED 155mph
- FUEL | CO2 47.9mpg (combined) | 154g/km
65-plate Special contents
- Electric and hybrid cars
- Family cars
- Sports cars and supercars
- City cars
- Executive and luxury cars
- WAG gags: the words made possible by the 65-plate