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Battle of the premium saloons

By Maxine Ashford | April 19, 2022

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We take a look at the top premium saloons

Battle of the premium saloons

While the number of premium saloon cars is growing at breakneck speed these days with the likes of the Genisis, Volvo and Jaguar offering excellent models, we are concentrating on the three big hitters from german car makers who have long-established rivalry. 

We will be looking at the Mercedes S Class - one of the finest limousines on this planet. Then there is the BMW 7 series with its dynamic handling and muscular design. And, finally we will also throw the Audi A8 into the mix - a car that frequently transports the aptly named A-listers from venue to venue. 

Obviously, any executive saloon needs to tick a lot of boxes. firstly, it needs to look the part. After all what CEO doesn't want to make an entrance? It also needs to perform and be comfortable on long journeys. The ride and refinement must be exceptionally smooth so exces can work away in the back end, of course it needs every luxury and creature comfort imaginable.

We will be looking into key areas such as cost, practicality, efficiency and any current offers and hopefully help you make your own choice. 

Price

The Mercedes S Class is the world's best-selling luxury saloon and is priced from £78,705 for the S 350 d AMG Line with standard wheel-base. In fairness, most execs will want to step up to long wheel-base for the extra legroom it introduces, especially if the intent to work while being chauffeur-driven.

The S 400 d 4 MATIC is a LWB-only model priced from £94,135. This car, with its six-cylinder diesel engine can travel from 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds and has a top speed electronically limited to 155mph. The petrol-powered S 500 4 MATIC is slightly cheaper at £89,105 and introduces mild hybrid technology. It is also faster completing the 0-62mph dash in 4.9 seconds. 

The BMW 7 Series was previously the best fun of the three to drive but the compromise was the ride quality and that's no good if you're working away in the back of the car. However, the latest models really offer the very best of both worlds, It's still dynamic in its performance but occupants are now cushioned along the way, It's also very hushed. 

Once again, customers can choose between long or short wheel-base versions with petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid powertrains. Prices start from £74,985 and £117,610. Long wheel-base starts at £74,985 and the powerful S8 tips the scales at £102,610.

There are four engine options along with a plug-in hybrid model that will be more attractive to business drivers. And the 0-62mph time is sub-five seconds or 3.8 seconds for the S8. 

It is worth noting all the prices are ‘from’ and customers can add a wealth of options to the cars but prices will climb quite dramatically. 

Practicality

Luxury executive saloons are probably the only category of car where rear passenger space and comfort is just as, if not more, important than the refinement up front.

That's because many exces will want to be chauffeur-driven from A to B and be able to work away in sublime comfort. They don't want the coffee spilling over important files and they don't want to exit the car feeling like they've just been on a rollercoaster either. 

The Mercedes S Class oozes class with the rear seats that are power-operated and also have memory settings, along with heating and ventilation options. there are even heated rear armrests in the doors. 

The boot has a 550-litre capacity (an increase of 20 litres over the outgoing version) and although the seats cannot be folded forward for added storage space, there is a ski hatch for longer items.

An optional Chauffeur Package is ideal if there is a passenger in the back working away. It means the front passenger headrest can be folded forward or removed, that seat can also be adjusted by the rear occupant and they also gain an electrically extendable footrest.

The BMW 7 Series features a rear seat entertainment system with two 10-inch full-HD screens that can be angled according to the passenger's seating position. There is 989mm of headroom in the back, 1,466mm of shoulder space, and 1,128mm of legroom. the boot can swallow 505 litres of kit (429 litres on plug-in models).

Once again, there is a wealth of high-end gadgetry on offer and occupants are treated to sublime comfort levels.

And luxury is the name of the game inside the Audi a8 with rear seats offering numerous adjustment options and a footrest on the back of the passenger seat. Passengers can use it to have the bottoms of their feet warmed and massaged to various degrees. The relaxation seat package includes a back massage with 18 pneumatic cushions, electrically adjustable comfort headrests, an optional continuous center console - also available with an optional fold-out table - new screens in the rear plus four-zone deluxe automatic air conditioning.

The boot can hold 505 litres of kit. 

Efficiency

A premium saloon car is not cheap to buy and the day-to-day running cost will weigh heavy on the pocket too. Buts it's all in the name of luxury, right?

The range-topping Mercedes S 4MATIC L AMG Line Premium Plus Executive version costs just shy of £105k and, according to official WLTP figures, can deliver a combined 37.7mpg with carbon emissions of 196g/km. Expect heavy taxation costs and insurance fees to match. 

The BMW 7 series in powerful 750i xDrive Saloon guise, with its 530hp engine can achieve a combined 25.9mpg with carbon emissions from 241g/km. Again expensive taxation and running costs to be expected there.

And it's similar news with the Audi A8 too, although the diesel-powered model can deliver a combined 37.2mpg with carbon emissions from 185g.km. The powerful S8 sees fuel economy drop to below 25mpg and the CO2 emissions rise to 261g/km.

Many people travelling in high-end limousine-style saloons will be searching for the best leasing deals on offer. It's unlikely they will want to purchase as these high-flyers like to change their cars regularly and stay bang up-to-date with technology.

The Mercedes S Class S 350 d AMG Line Premium with nine-speed automatic gearbox is available on a 48-month contract with an initial rental fee of £10,543 followed by monthly payments of £878. this is a business hire deal with an annual mileage limit of 5,000. Obviously, deals can be made to suit requirements.

We discovered a number of leasing options for both personal and business drivers when it comes to the BMW 7 series. Monthly payments seemed a little higher but the initial deposit was lower and the mileage restrictions less severe. Once again, the arrangements can be made to measure so it's worth shopping around. 

The Audi A8 can be snapped up in a number of plans that can range in length from two to four years with monthly payments dropping for the longer contracts. the 48-month terms were around the £850-£950 mark dependant on the model. 

So, which takes your fancy?

All three of these executive saloons have their own unique appeal and every time there is a new generation model launched, it ups the ante again. And that's a good thing because this sort of competition is healthy and we, the consumers, end up with a better product. That said; every new generation comes with a heftier price tag too which is not so welcome. 

Conclusion

We think the Mercedes S Class just sneaks to pole position out of this trio. It has every base covered and the interior is truly sublime.

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