The British aren’t as well known for the mass-production of cars as their European counterparts in Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Though Britain is home to some of the continent’s most productive plants, such as the Nissan plant in Sunderland, northeast England, the country hasn’t been known for its domestic production of cars since the “dark days” of nationalized British Leyland back in the 1960s and 1970s.
While the British clearly rely on other countries to produce their hatchbacks, sedans and SUVs, there’s one area of car design and production on which they will accept no lectures from anyone, and that’s in the realm of luxury cars. It may seem odd that BMW and VW are the owners of arguably the two most iconic luxury British car brands --- Rolls-Royce and Bentley respectively --- but these cars are still designed and hand-crafted in England, and remain stalwart symbols of Britain’s rather impressive know-how when it comes to luxury cars.
Today we’re looking at some of the best luxury cars that come from British brands.
British Luxury Cars: The 8 Best Models
Bentley Continental GT
When only the perfect mixture of sporty and luxury will do, you can turn to the Bentley Continental GT. It’s obviously a very expensive proposition, starting at around $230,000 brand-new, but it is one of the two brands --- along with Rolls-Royce --- that arguably best exemplifies the British Luxury Car style. The Continental GT is powered by a 6.0L W12 engine delivering an extraordinary 635-hp of power. It has a top speed of 207-mph and can get from 0 to 60 in just 3.6 seconds.
The real luxury aspects are found on the surprisingly spacious interior, as you might expect. From the plush leather of the seats to the thick carpets and the real-wood veneers used in the trim. Every button, knob and dial looks and feels luxurious and expensive, and indeed they are. One of the priciest additions to this car is the rotating infotainment screen option. In its default mode, it shows an old-world wooden panel displaying three analog dials, but at the touch of a button it rotates into a flawless and cutting-edge digital display.
Photo by - Karlis Dambrans
In a world where every OEM brand seems to be making an SUV model, not many people thought at first that such automakers as Rolls-Royce would ever get in on that trend, but as it happens they did, in the form of their Cullinan SUV.
Its front end is unmistakably Rolls-Royce with its huge front grille, distinctive headlamp display and strong, squared lines and edges. As you move to see the profile, however, you see something very different indeed. The Cullinan starts at $380,000, but offers so much to those who seek luxury with serious off-road capability.
The Cullinan runs on a 6.75L V12 engine producing 571-hp and is capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 in just 5 seconds. For an SUV of this size, that’s a great speed, but it has otherwise been electronically limited with a top speed of 155-mph.
One very neat feature of this British luxury car is its 4-wheel steering system, which makes it incredibly maneuverable in tight city streets or on winding country lanes. Standard off-road driving modes deliver changes to engine, suspension and gearbox to make the Cullinan ready to tackle sand, snow or gravel. If you’ve ever wanted to drive a Rolls-Royce over sand dunes, the Cullinan is the one to do it.
On the inside, the Cullinan comes with either “lounge” (bench) or individual seats, all covered in the finest leather you’ll ever find. The luxury is dialed up to maximum when you check out the optional rear seat drinks set with Cullinan whisky and champagne glasses, as well as a fridge!
For so many years, no one ever seriously believed that Jaguar would ever really be able to beat its timeless E-Type luxury sports car. And then, along came the F-Type to dazzle the world with its luxuriant splendor. This sleek, decadent 2-seat coupe whose features evoke memories of the E-Type, especially in the form of that elongated hood design. Its powerful V8 engines are certainly enough to rival a Porsche 911 or an Aston Martin Vantage, and there are convertible options of this car as well.
The inside is fairly simple on the surface, but the F-Type is much more about creating a luxury driving experience than it is about pure decadence. Materials are simple, but of a high quality and without resorting to any cheap plastic.
The car comes in either a 2.0L or 5.0L configuration, but unfortunately features no manual transmission option for the most keen drivers. However the V8 engine can be equipped with a 4WD drivetrain for added control on the roads. This is a British luxury car that still turns heads everywhere it goes. MSRP starts at $61,100 for the base model.
Photo By: Markjjolloway
Aston Martin DB11
When you think of Aston Martin, your mind is immediately drawn to James Bond, of course. He didn’t drive a DB11, unfortunately (though he did in “Casino Royale” drive a 2006 version of the DBS - see below). It’s not a cheap starter at $210,000, but then again which of any of these British luxury cars is “affordable”?
The DB11 is powered by a fantastic 608-hp twin-turbocharged V12 engine with 5.2L displacement and a 0-60 time of just 3.9 seconds. It’s fun to drive wherever you go, but is the most enjoyable when taken out of the city and allowed to “run free” on wilder, more open roads. The interior features extremely comfortable leather seats and lots of room for the driver and passenger. Buyers can also enjoy customizing the interior too with a wide choice of different colors.
Technologically, it’s got clean, high-resolution infotainment and instrument cluster screens, but perhaps isn’t as “fully-loaded” as something like a Mercedes S-Class sedan. Like the Jaguar F-Type, it relies more on the luxury look of the exterior, the agility of the drive and the magnificence of the build to hold your awe.
Now we’ve looped back to that iconic British luxury brand, but this time to look at one of their other great offerings, the always enormous and decadent Rolls-Royce Phantom. To first look at the Phantom, you might first wonder how any British road could accommodate such a beast. This type of car was surely built for the wide avenues and 16-lane highways of the United States?
Start up the Phantom to hear the 6.75L V12 engine generating up to 512-hp from the massive engine bay. Actually, you probably won’t hear it too much until you floor the gas pedal because the first signature item of luxury in this car is the whisper-quiet cabin lined with thick carpets, decadent and supportive seats wrapped in the finest leather and hand-stitched in gorgeous patterns.
The Phantom weighs about 3 tons, but it still handles itself very well on any road type. If you’re wealthy enough to afford one, you’ll like not have to drive it yourself, in which case you’ll buy the extended wheelbase version and enjoy huge amounts of rear space, the starlit headliners, customizable fascia, and an iconic two-tone exterior look that is unmistakably “Phantom.”
Photo by: ilikewaffless11
Bentley Flying Spur
Just as we returned to cover an iconic Rolls-Royce grand tourer, we now return to look at a Bentley tourer as well. The Flying Spur is, in essence, as good as it gets in the Bentley range. It’s not only luxurious but extremely high-tech as well. Running on a 6.0L W12 gasoline engine it can travel from 0 to 60 in just 3.7 seconds. It’s a huge car at 208 inches, but its rear-wheel steering helps to reduce that turning circle when doing a tighter turn downtown.
The Flying Spur is a bit happier as an on-road performance car when compared to the likes of the Rolls-Royce Phantom, but of course the interior doesn’t exactly match the Phantom’s extraordinary level of detailing. That’s not to say it isn’t luxurious, however. You’ll find no complaints from us about the fine leather, the beautiful real-wood veneers on the dash, the stunning brushed metal and real, authentic and premium materials used throughout. Bentley doesn’t even know what cheap hard plastic is for.
The Flying Spur is also quite a technologically advanced vehicle. The huge 12.3” infotainment screen benefits from VW/Porsche’s responsive and intuitive technology. There’s built-in navigation, Bluetooth, digital radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and much more. There’s huge amounts of leg room in every section, but especially in the back where even the best NBA players could recline in happy comfort. Be ready to fork out $246,000 as a starting MSRP, though.
Range Rover Sport
Is there an American celebrity around who hasn’t at one point had a Range Rover Sport? This luxury SUV has been such a smash hit in the US and around the world that it was one of the models most responsible for drawing increased attention to British automotive brands once again. The standard Range Rover Sport seats 5 people with a massive amount of additional trunk space. At $69,500 for a starting price, it’s another of the “affordable” bracket in our list today.
The 5-seater arrangement makes the interior extremely roomy, even when you’ve loaded up a full-house with school gear, sports gear and more. That makes for a pleasant and comfortable luxury ride in this premier SUV. You can add a third row to it if you have more kids, but the third row isn’t suitable for adult passengers.
One of the best features within the Range Rover Sport’s hardware is the standard air suspension, which makes even rapid transit down the interstate highway a sublime pleasure not dissimilar to the “magic carpet ride” of the Rolls-Royce (though Range Rover can’t quite get the silent cabin of a Rolls). Since it’s a luxury car that’s often chosen for families, the Range Rover Sport’s added bonus is a 5-star safety rating from EuroNCAP, but you do have to dial up the trim level to access the very best safety features.
Photo by: Alexander Migl
Aston Martin DBS Superleggera
Finally we land back again on the 007 brand of Aston Martin. This time it’s the DBS Superleggera, which once again can’t hold a candle to the likes of Bentley or Rolls-Royce for interior luxury, but is the superlative luxury car drive experience when you factor in the performance capabilities of this amazing car.
The car is built mostly to compete with the Ferrari 812 Superfast, which had previously stolen Aston Martin’s thunder with the 812 model. It’s heavier than you might expect at 3,968-lbs, but it’s powered by an impressive V12 engine that’s capable of 211-mph and 0-62 in just 3.4 seconds. It doesn’t actually beat the Ferrari 812 in a standing sprint, but it’s superior torque means that in a longer contest the Superleggera would likely prevail.
Another advantage that the Aston Martin has is quiet rides at high speeds, something that its rivals in Italy still struggle to achieve --- not that they’re always trying. This makes the DBS Superleggera something of a more versatile machine, comfortably racing down an 812 Superfast, but also cruising the coast road in California while you enjoy soft leather seats and simple but pleasing cabin technology.
The Best of British
One thing that seems to unify these British creations is extremely high prices, but perhaps that’s to be expected from the luxury bracket. As long as there is a steady stream of people around the world making their fortune, then it seems that these British luxury models and others will have a market.
China in particular has become a thriving market for British brands as they are seen as a symbol of reaching the zenith of financial success, which is reflected in their even-more-inflated price tags with additional taxes and whatnot.
The British stamp of luxury quality can be found in these models and many more. Long may it continue.