With the December holidays just around the corner, it’s the season of road trips. For those shopping in the luxury-car segment, comfort and power needn’t come at the expense of fuel economy. Petrol and diesel prices being what they are, we take a look at four road-trip-friendly luxury cars that offer space, opulence, and performance without putting your fuel budget in the red.
Best electric Mercedes EQS 450 4Matic
Battery-powered cars are not front of mind for long road trips and there still isn’t one that can do the Joburg-Durban run on a single charge, but if you’re looking for a long-haul electric luxury car that can do the 600km journey with a quick midway stop, the new Mercedes-Benz EQS 450 4Matic SUV is a prime contender.With a claimed urban range of up to 610km and a real-world range of around 450km, this opulent Mercedes SUV can go from 10% to 80% battery capacity in around half an hour when plugged into the DC fast-charging station in Harrismith. Essentially an electric S-class on stilts, the EQS leaves out nothing when it comes to refinement, luxury, and smooth-sailing power. It’s available as a five-seater and a more family-friendly seven-seater.As with all EVs, you pay a premium for your green conscience: the electric EQS SUV costs about R320 000 more than its petrol-powered cousin, the Mercedes GLS.
Price: R2 726 100 (five seater); R2 759 300 (seven seater)
Best Hybrid Range Rover P460E HSE
If fuel economy is top of your list, the Range Rover plug-in hybrid is capable of running on the sniff of an oil rag — or just 0.9l/100km, to be precise. Read that again: less than one litre per 100km. The petrol-electric SUV can drive up to 120km in pure electric mode, which covers many people’s daily commute. With the electric motor and 3.0l petrol engine working together, the big SUV is capable of 0-100km/h in just 5.5 seconds.Mixing real off-road ability with bed-of-roses luxury, the fifth-generation Range Rover is more sophisticated than ever. Owners wanting to explore trails less travelled can call upon this vehicle’s all-wheel drive, height-adjustable air suspension, several selectable off-road modes, and a 360° camera that effectively lets you see “through” the bonnet. “White noise” speakers built into the headrests combine with acoustic laminated glass to keep the interior free of unwanted sounds. Alternatively, good vibes are provided by the 34-speaker Meridian audio system with subwoofer.
Price: R3 315 500
Best Suv Lexus LX 500D
If you want to make a styling statement from Table Mountain to Timbuktu, look no further than this continent-crossing SUV. With its giant chromed spindle grille the Lexus tends to be the centre of attention wherever it goes. The huge vehicle treats its occupants to palatial luxury, which includes rear entertainment screens and a 25-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. With this SUV’s famed all-terrain abilities, the journey needn’t end just because the tar road does. The latest LX can take on the toughest trails with full-time all-wheel drive supplemented by lockable front, rear, and centre differentials and height-adjustable suspension. It is ably hustled along by a twin turbodiesel 3.3l V6 with 225kW of power and a mighty 700Nm of torque. For its size and power, the LX 500D has an impressively restrained thirst, claimed at just 8.3l/100km.
Price: R2 507 600
Best Sedan BMW 740i
A list like this is usually only populated with diesels, hybrids or electrics. The BMW 740i shows that an “old-school” petrol-powered luxury limo can be economical, and the 740i’s claimed 7.9l/100km is impressively thrifty. Yet there’s no shortage of performance and the big sedan is able to scoot the 0-100km/h sprint in just 5.4 seconds.Like the Lexus LX, it makes an I-am-what-I-am visual statement. With optional dual-tone paintwork and an enormous kidney grille — which illuminates for extra effect — the new 7-Series is all about maximum presence.Occupants of the quiet and luxurious cabin are cocooned from wind noise and bumps as the car glides gracefully on air suspension.The back seat has stretch-out legroom and an optional reclining seat that folds out like a La-Z-Boy chair. A huge high-resolution theatre screen extends down from the headline to entertain rear-seat passengers while on the road.
Price: R2 237 751
• From the November edition of Wanted, 2023.