Bentley Flying Spur
The replacement for the original Continental GT-based four-door introduced in 2005, this latest car to carry the Flying Spur name (first used by Bentley in 1957) is light years ahead of its predecessor in terms of both technology and driving pleasure. Predictably opulent inside, its plush, fluted leather seating offers the sort of comfort that inspires the crossing of continents – and passengers shouldn’t get bored thanks to a choice of superlative sound systems (the range-topper being a Naim set-up with a rock concert-worthy output of 2,200 watts), de-mountable rear infotainment screens, mood lighting and an optional panoramic glass roof.
The Flying Spur’s interior party piece, however, is the rotating display that takes centre stage in the dashboard. First seen on the latest Continental GT, the system revolves in the style of James Bond’s number plates to offer the choice of a high-definition instrument panel with digital touchscreen, a set of traditional, analogue dials or a plain wood veneer finish. But it is under its (relatively) lightweight alloy skin that this car reveals itself to be truly special. A high-tech aluminium and composite chassis, programmable air suspension, all-wheel-drive and all-wheel steering make for near sports-car handling, while the engine whisks it from standstill to 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds – and on to a top speed of a pleasantly rounded 333km/h.
Jaguar XE SV Project 8
For taking four people from A to B at truly high speed and in supreme comfort, the perfect three-car fleet must include an ultra high performance saloon and those who love driving will find it difficult to beat Jaguar’s recently launched, limited edition XE SV Project 8.
Hand made at Jaguar Land Rover’s thriving Special Vehicle Operations, the XE SV Project 8 is the quickest and most powerful road-going Jaguar ever made, with a 600hp V8 engine that enables the four-door to sprint from standstill to 60mph in only 3.3 seconds and carry on to a top speed of 200mph. Just 300 examples have been built at a starting price of £149,995, and one of the first has already smashed the four door saloon lap record at Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit, covering the 12.9 miles in just 7min 23sec.
Those looking for an off-roader, SUV car will be pleasantly surprised to find that one of the longest running car models in production – the G-Class (or Geländewagen) from Mercedes-Benz – still tops the list as one of the best for capability and charm. More recent SUVs might be more comfortable, better appointed, faster and more economical but, when it comes to a vehicle that can be loaded up with kit and people, pull prodigious loads, go almost anywhere and that simply looks darned cool in any environment, the G-Wagen is hard to beat.
Although the latest versions are outwardly identical to the original model launched in 1979, they are decidedly better appointed inside, boasting large screen infotainment systems, rear seat televisions, beautifully trimmed seats and so on. Cleverly, Mercedes-Benz hasn’t allowed styling trends or the pursuit of too many creature comforts to interfere with the G-Wagen’s versatility. You still get superb all-round visibility, short body overhangs and square-cut wings that combine with three individually deployable, mechanical differential locks and permanent four-wheel drive to give the car the all-terrain capability of a mountain goat. And, despite appearing to be relatively basic, the G-Wagen’s quality is reflected in the fact that it remains reassuringly expensive. A basic G350d, for example, costs £88,000 without a single extra, while the high performance G63 – with a twin turbocharged, 563hp V8 under the bonnet – starts at £135,950.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn is a sleek four-seater drophead which the maker promises will mark ‘a new age of open-top luxury motoring’. The new Dawn takes its cues from the classic 1950s Silver Dawn - of which only 28 were ever made – and aims to make the luxury driving experience more youthful, fun and sociable.
The Dawn is purpose built to tackle some of the best coastal roads to drive and is undeniably the chicest way to travel from private airfield to superyacht marina. The canvas roof folds away silently in just 22 seconds leaving you to enjoy the warm Mediterranean sunshine from the comfort of tan leather seats and polished wood interiors. Of course, should another colour scheme take your fancy bespoke options are available. Under the bonnet the Dawn houses a 6.6 litre V12 engine that offers a top speed of 155mph and can propel the car from 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds – not bad for a vehicle that’s more interested in turning heads on the Croissette than getting you from A to B in record time.
Ferrari 488 Pista
Looking for the ultimate sports car? Ferrari’s 488 Pista is a road-legal supercar that performs just as well on the track as it does on the open road. The latest in a line that includes the 360 Challenge Stradale, 430 Scuderia and 458 Speciale, the 488 Pista is the first to be turbocharged with a 3.6-litre twin-turbo V8. Weight saving is key to its success with a drop in 90kg from the original 488 plus a power boost to 711bhp resulting in a top speed of more than 211mph. Although prices for the 488 Pista are yet to be confirmed, they are expected to be significantly more than the classic 488 which starts at £182,800.