We spend a huge amount of time in our cars – nearly four years over the course of the average lifetime. So it pays to find a car that makes that time feel like a luxury rather than a chore.
Everyone’s definition of luxury is a little bit different. For some, it’s all about the comfort and refinement that separates you from the stresses of the world outside. For others, it’s an exhilarating driving experience that stimulates the mind and the senses. And then there are those in search of the latest technology, such as cutting-edge infotainment, sophisticated automated driving functions and state-of-the-art connectivity.
Whatever you’re looking for in a luxury car, there’s something out there on subscription. And the beauty of this flexible approach is that it allows you to sample a wide range of different cars, with some services allowing you to change models on a monthly basis.
Read on to discover our top five picks for luxury cars on subscription.
There are a lot of SUVs in this list, and that’s largely thanks to the original Range Rover, which re-defined the concept of a luxury car when it was launched way back in 1970. The car that you see here is the latest in that line – brand new and packed with state-of-the-art technology.
Although the Range Rover’s legendary off-road ability remains, these days this automotive icon feels equally at home on tarmac. It doesn’t feel as overtly sporting as some of its rivals, but even the entry-level diesel version makes decent progress, while the top of the range twin-turbocharged petrol V8 model sprints from 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds. There are also six-cylinder petrol and plug-in hybrid models available, with a fully electric Range Rover due in 2024.
The handling is neat and tidy, while excellent visibility and four-wheel steering make this king-sized 4X4 surprisingly easy to thread down narrow city streets.
But what impressed us most about the Range Rover was its refinement. The cabin is whisper quiet at motorway speeds. Likewise, the beautifully cushioned suspension irons out even the sharpest bumps in the road. It’s not just good for an SUV, it’s quite possibly the most cossetting and indulgent car this side of a Rolls Royce.
We’ve already touched upon the proliferation of SUVs in the luxury car market, and the Audi e-tron (renamed the Q8 e-tron in its latest guise) combines that with the other big trend in this segment – electrification.
Not that you’d necessarily guess that the e-tron was electric at first glance. It doesn’t scream high-tech futurism at you like a Tesla Model X or a BMW iX, but that’s part of the appeal. The focus is on clean, sophisticated design, excellent ride comfort and a spacious, luxurious interior.
Like all modern Audis, the quality inside the e-tron’s cabin is first-rate. The materials on the dashboard look and feel great, while Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system gives you a vast range of flexibility to customise the driving environment.
One of the e-tron’s standout features, when it was first launched, was its 150kW charging speed. That’s no longer class-leading, but it is still very useful – a 20-80% charge can be completed in just 30 minutes, while a full charge gives you around 225 miles of real-world range.
A quick confession here. The Volvo EX90 is so new that we’ve not actually driven it yet. With that in mind, it’s doubly impressive that the Swedish firm’s luxury flagship is already available on subscription (although you may find there’s a bit of a waiting list to negotiate).
So why include a car that we’ve not even tested? We’ve always been impressed with Volvo’s premium SUVs – particularly the current XC90 in its various petrol and hybrid forms. These are cars that excel at family life, without shouting about their capabilities.
The range-topping EX90 is a completely new design, sharing more with the forthcoming Polestar 3 than the existing Volvo models, but we expect that quietly competent philosophy to remain. And then there’s the latest version of Volvo’s Google-based infotainment system – already one of the cleverest on the market – plus a headline-grabbing 360-mile range.
In the meantime, the same subscription service also offers the existing XC90 and XC60 SUVs, along with the excellent V90 estate and its saloon cousin, the S90.
There are plenty of luxury SUVs and saloons out there on subscription, but what if you want something a bit sportier? The Porsche Taycan is quite simply the best-handling EV we’ve driven so far. In this mid-range 4S form, the Porsche may not be as fast as a Tesla Model S Plaid, but it drives with an agility and tactility that the Californian car can only dream of.
The four-seat Taycan is not really an all-out sports car in the mould of the Porsche 911, nor a plush executive saloon like its bigger brother the Panamera. And yet we think it strikes a deeply appealing balance between the two. It’s the sort of car that feels every bit as capable munching miles on a long motorway commute during the week as it does blasting down country lanes at the weekend.
Inside, it’s a genuine four-seater, with a cabin that manages to combine the best of Porsche’s traditional design cues with a slick, contemporary feel. The instrument panel, for instance, is a futuristic free-standing touchscreen that curves around you, while the low seating position and perfectly-sculpted Alcantara steering wheel could be taken from any number of iconic Porsche sports cars.
There’s an optional synthesised engine note (which we actually quite like) but turn that off and the Taycan glides around serenely. The suspension isn’t quite as plush as a luxury saloon, but it’s still supple enough to soothe away the stresses of a long drive.
And you really can go for a long drive. Admittedly, things have moved on slightly since this version of the Taycan was originally launched, and the standard 79kWh battery pack is now competitive rather than outstanding. However, it still returns a very healthy 250 miles of range (more like 200 miles in the real world), while the Taycan’s sophisticated 800-volt charging system means that the battery can be recharged (5-80%) in less than 25 minutes if you can find a fast enough charging station.
The BMW 745e is the archetypal luxury limo given a contemporary twist. Under that long bonnet, you’ll find a creamy smooth six-cylinder petrol engine, following a BMW tradition that stretches back decades. Inside, there’s all the finely stitched leather that you could ask for, not to mention masses of room for both the front and rear seat passengers.
But alongside all that traditional pomp and splendour, there’s an 83kW electric motor paired with a lithium-ion battery pack, giving this Bavarian behemoth a 32-mile zero-emissions range, not to mention an impressive turn of speed. It also comes with BMW’s sophisticated iDrive infotainment system, including a clear, crisp 10.2-inch screen in the front, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
On the road, the 7-Series strikes a deft balance between comfort and precision. It’s not perhaps as cosseting as the equivalent Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but it steers a little more sharply as a result. Performance is ample too, with 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds and a top speed of 155mph.
Fancy an alternative take on the big BMW recipe? The new BMW iX electric SUV has won a lot of praise for its space, comfort and technology, plus it comes with a range of up to 392 miles. At the time of writing, the iX had yet to make it onto any of the subscription services, but we expect that to change very soon.
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There are hundreds of cars available via UK subscription companies.
My thoughts about this EV after driving it for three months.