By Lyndon Bell
Fully three of the top five best selling luxury brands in the US are German. When it comes to performance and innovation, German luxury cars are unsurpassed. After all, a country with thousands of miles of unlimited speed highways simply has to produce outstanding automobiles. Perhaps this also explains the attitude of the manufacturers of German luxury cars. Consider their mottos: Mercedes-Benz: “The Best Or Nothing.” BMW: “The Ultimate Driving Machines.” Porsche: “There Is No Substitute.” Audi: “Truth In Engineering”. If you’re touting yourself in those kinds of terms, your stuff had better be good—right?
Audi has established itself as the leader in automotive electronics among the contemporary luxury manufacturers. Its all-aluminum A8 flagship is a veritable rolling showcase of cutting edge tech. Pair this with beautifully finished interiors and powerful engine offerings ranging from a six-cylinder diesel to a 12-cylinder gasoline fired powerplant—all fronting all-wheel drive powertrains—and Audi’s supremely desirable A8 commands considerable respect. Pricing starts at $77,400.
One of the most expressive examples of Audi’s four-door sedan philosophy, the Audi A7 is a slightly different take on the four-door coupe trend started by the Mercedes-Benz CLS back in 2004. Audi’s version of the genre adds a hatchback, though you’d be hard pressed to see it just looking at the styling of the car. Further, given its role as the sportier version of the A6, the Audi A7 frees the A6 to move farther toward the luxury end of the spectrum, while the A7 caters to the more athletically oriented four door Audi intender. Pricing starts at $65,900
Even while sharing showroom space with its sexier A7 sibling, Audi’s A6 is still one of the most desirable mid-level luxury sedans on offer. Fast, smooth, comfortable, and tastefully elegant; Audi’s A6 became even more luxurious with the advent of the sportier A7 in the maker’s lineup. Here’s the thing though, even though the A6 has been calibrated for more luxury, its road manners are still highly exemplary and its performance is just as strong as ever. Pricing starts at $44,800.
Easily one of the most handsome coupes on the road, Audi’s A5 is a paragon of style, offering a broad palette of available features housed in one of the most attractive interiors on the road. The Audi is also enjoyable to drive and exceptionally comfortable as well. For the 2015 model year, all-wheel drive has been made standard across the board for both the coupe and convertible versions of the Audi personal luxury car. Pricing starts at $40,000.
Delivering equal measures of comfort and performance is the Audi A4’s raison d’être. A particular strength, as is true of Audi models in general is the exceptional quality of its interior. Seated at an A4’s steering wheel, you can very easily see where the money went. Succinctly described, everything is just right. There’s no over the top exercises in play here, it’s all very tasteful with premium materials, pure lines, and sophisticated ambient lighting. Further, driving an A4 is just as enjoyable as being a passenger. Pricing starts at $35,500.
Redesigned for the 2015 model year, the Audi A3 lineup now contains a four-door sedan, a coupe, and a convertible. Being an Audi, quite naturally the marque’s renowned Quattro all-wheel drive solution is offered as an option for each version. The current darling of entry-level luxury cars, Audi’s A3 brings many of the most desirable attributes of its more expensive siblings to the sub-$30,000 price range; including their brilliant interior treatments, their exceptional ride/handling balance, and their unquestionable style. Pricing starts at $29,900.
Photo Credit: BMW
BMW 7 Series
The BMW flagship is without question one of the best-handling full-size four-door luxury sedans you can buy. In fact, the model is so good; Rolls-Royce uses it as the basis for its entry-level Ghost sedan. There is a smoothness BMW’s cars possess, one that is superior to that of all other manufacturers. The 7 Series seemingly glides over the road. Further, its slate of engines is one of the most magnificent on offer—ranging from a turbocharged diesel, to a silken V12. There’s a hybrid powertrain as well. Pricing starts at $74,000.
BMW 6 Series
Prestige personified; the BMW 6 Series coupe, convertible, and four-door Gran Coupe are arguably the best looking German luxury cars currently offered. Sleek of line, with a countenance exuding outstanding capability, the BMW 6 Series is one of the most desirable range of cars on the market today. The stylish interiors, outstanding engines, and exemplary road manners only serve to cement the 6 Series position in the hierarchy of today’s luxury car offerings. Pricing starts at $76,100.
BMW 5 Series
One of the best all-around models on the market today, BMWs 5 Series caters to the driver with terrific roadholding, delectably responsive engines, and wonderfully comfortable interiors. The understated elegance of the look of the car actually makes it stand out from the crowd. Then, there is the broad variety of powertrains offered including diesel, hybrid, and all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $49,950.
BMW 4 Series
Heading into its second year of production, the BMW 4 Series has established itself as a strong competitor in the personal luxury space. Like its larger 6 Series sibling, the 4 Series is offered in coupe, convertible, and four-door Gran Coupe formats. All are singularly desirable in their own right. Placing the needs and desires of enthusiast drivers high on its list of priorities, the 4 Series is one of the most coveted driver’s cars offered today. Pricing starts at $40,300.
BMW 3 Series
A couple of years ago, BMW split this class of its cars into two distinct models. The 3 Series, long a mainstay in the BMW product range, is now offered only as a sedan or a wagon. Still closely related to its 4 Series counterpart, none of the driving pleasure long associated with the BMW 3 Series has been diminished—nor have the quality interiors. However, the 3 Series does offer a broader variety of powertrains—including diesel, hybrid, and all wheel drive. Pricing starts at $32,950.
BMW 2 Series
The entry-level BMW model for the US, BMW’s 2 Series brings quick acceleration, determined roadholding, a supple ride, reasonable fuel economy, and more than a heaping helping of style to the marketplace. Offered, in both coupe and convertible formats, the BMW 2 Series boasts excellent build quality, a wonderfully sporting nature, outstanding comfort, and laudable fuel economy. Pricing starts at $32,100.
A technological tour de force, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the car most people envision when they hear the phrase “German luxury car”. And for good reason—the big Benz is known for debuting technological innovations while always remaining powerful, composed, and the very essence of elegant. Even while storming along the autobahn at 150 miles per hour. Pricing starts at $94,400.
If there is a more versatile luxury car on the market today, we have yet to become aware of it. A taxicab in its home country, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is also sold as a luxury sedan, a personal luxury coupe, an elegant convertible, and a station wagon. There are also tire-shredding high performance variants of the sedan and the wagon. In other words, there are enough different varieties of the E-Class Mercedes-Benz to almost be a brand unto itself. Pricing starts at $51,800.
All new for the 2015 model year, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan, thanks to its new lower-priced CLA-Class sibling, has moved upmarket. Longer, wider, lighter, and more spacious, the new C-Class is also more luxurious than the car it replaces. It performs better too. And yes, a full slate of state of the art tech features are offered as well. Pricing starts at $38,400.
Giving Mercedes a lower priced car for young upwardly mobile professionals to get into, the CLA-Class Benz is the brand’s first front-wheel drive offering in the US. Although they are offered at a lower price point, the CLA-Class Mercs give up very little. That legendary solidity is there when you slam the doors, and their stability at speed is most Mercedes-like. Pricing starts at $31,500.
Porsche’s first four-door sedan offering was fortunate in that the brand’s Cayenne SUV had already proven Porsche’s DNA could translate to something other than a two-seat sports car. With Panamera, the venerable manufacturer has one of the most polarizing looking sedans on the road, which also happens to be one of the best performing sedans on the road. Pricing starts at $78,100.
The Volkswagen CC replaced Volkswagen’s first attempt at a model in the luxury space in the US in 2008—the rather poorly received Phaeton. Drawing heavily upon the four-door coupe styling language currently in vogue, the VW CC is a beautifully finished automobile with a smooth ride, a great deal of stability, a quiet cabin, and a luxurious interior. In short, it’s everything you’d expect a mid-sized German luxury car to be. Pricing starts at $32,995.