2016 Jaguar F-Type Coupe on the road ・ Photo by Jaguar
Most of the cars on our list of the most upscale cars for 2017 have six-figure prices. But that’s to be expected since upscale means more than merely expensive. It means another world, or at least another plane of existence. A place where no one has to worry about how they’re going to afford their next plate of oysters. Where people can wear white and somehow never spill food on their pants. These 10 cars are not for the average Joe or Joan, they’re for demigods. What’s even crazier is that most owners will have other sweet rides too. There are costlier cars, but those are usually hard-core performance machines. For the most part, our selections have a wider appeal. We’ve also included a relative bargain, as long as you like wagons.
The grand tourer, reinvented. There’s a rich tradition of upscale coupes as beautiful as they are powerful, with many such cars coming out of Aston Martin’s factory gates. The DB11 exploits the advances made in turbocharging technology and brings forced induction to a 5.2-liter V12 engine for a heady output of 600 hp and 512 lb-ft of torque. If that all sounds a bit too manic, be assured that the DB11’s occupants are ensconced in a leather-lined cockpit with just the right amount of the right sensations filtering through. There are only a few fine ways of reaching 200 mph and this rear-drive, $216,000 express is one of them.
Photo by Aston Martin
This is what to buy if an Audi A8 is not sufficiently high-rent. By virtue of being a Bentley, any car bearing the winged B badge is upscale. But some cars are more upscale than others. The Mulsanne is the company’s most palatial sedan. Don’t expect much (if any) change from $400,000, but that sum does buy the talents and time of 144 artisans who virtually hand-build a Mulsanne over the course of around 400 hours, and all the raw materials it takes to create a 505-hp/184-mph luxury conveyance. With so many exterior colors and interior materials, along with the ability to personalize each car, there may be no two Mulsannes that are identical.
Photo by Bentley
One of the world’s most upscale cars. And it only seats two people. For a mere $3 million or so (not the most expensive new production car, but close), the 2017 Bugatti Chiron comes with 16 cylinders, four turbochargers, 1,500 hp and 1,180 lb-ft of torque. The list goes on with adaptive suspension, titanium exhaust, carbon-ceramic brakes, lashings of fine leather, real silver grille badge (one of the few items where weight wasn’t considered a priority), diamonds in the audio system’s speakers, and a claimed top speed of 261 mph. Bugatti enjoys a rich history of stunning machines. The 1938 Type 57SC Atlantic owned by Ralph Lauren is worth around $40 million. This new model pays homage to veteran Bugatti racer Louis Chiron.
Photo by Bugatti
Not all Ferrari cars are tight fits with loud exhausts and firm suspensions. This, the successor to the FF coupe, is a rare 4-seater from the Prancing Horse, but is still endowed with a massive 680 hp from a 6.3-liter V12. The cabin is lavishly leathered and even has a large 10.3-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system. The steering wheel is almost as multi-functional as an F1 car’s (a form of motorsport where Ferrari is a major player). Yet this all-wheel-drive ride is also refined and well-mannered, perfect for driving any day of the week, especially those days that bring the opportunity to hit 208 mph. It costs around $300,000, but that’s OK, isn’t it?
Photo by Ferrari
In such vaunted company among these 10 upscale cars, the F-Type is a comparative daily driver. But Jaguar can pull off the seemingly contradictory goals of providing sporty handling along with a comfortable, fluid ride quality. While taste is a personal thing, the 2-seater F-Type’s sleek styling seems to enjoy a broad appeal, while the driving experience could even tempt a potential Porsche 911 buyer — that’s how well it drives. Other cars with electric steering assistance often feel numb — not the F-Type. And the convertible is remarkably free of body flex. The most upscale F-Type is the new-for-2017 575-hp SVR model, powered by a supercharged V8 and starting in the region of $128,000.
Photo by Jaguar Land Rover
While the Mercedes-Maybach S600 is undoubtedly upscale, and S-Class sedan is also the beneficiary of intense attention to detail, the soft-top S-Class Cabriolet takes us away from such a serious world and adds a little frivolity. There’s nothing more upscale than expensive extravagance. The S600 is the car to enjoy on the French Riviera or the coast road of central California. And if there’s high-speed, continent-crossing driving to be done, the AMG S65 version brings a mighty 621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque to the party. This model costs around $250,000, but the also-excellent S550 Cabriolet comes at a more reasonable (by comparison) $133,000 or so and still offers Swarovski crystals in its headlights.
Photo by Mercedes-Benz
As the second generation of Porsche’s flagship sedan (or hatchback, if we wanted to be pedantic) comes in for 2017, the well-off contrarians among us are looking forward to the 2018 model year, when the “wagon” version — the Panamera Sport Turismo — makes its debut. It’s where roughly 45 cubic feet of cargo capacity meets at least $97,000-worth of upscale automobile, with Porsche’s legendary handling and fabulous engines completing the equation. There will be four variants: the Panamera 4, 4S, 4 E-Hybrid and Turbo, with drivetrains identical to their corresponding regular-bodied counterparts. Since drivers in the United States tend to avoid wagons, the Panamera Sport Turismo will be all the more exclusive.
Photo by Porsche
This is the marque you’d buy if a BMW wasn’t upscale enough. Actually, the Rolls-Royce name and the word “upscale” go together like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in a similar kind of elegant, breathtaking, well-thought-out and seemingly effortless choreography. The circa-$342,000 Dawn Convertible is one of the more recent creations to be adorned by the famed Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament. It’s also appointed with buttery hides, book-matched woodwork, a powered roof with virtually silent operation, and a turbocharged 6.6-liter V12 developing 563 hp in an equally discreet manner. We also love how the automatic transmission is linked to the satellite navigation, so it can select the appropriate ratio for what’s coming up.
Photo by Rolls Royce
Drive through any upscale neighborhood, especially Silicon Valley or Beverly Hills, and it won’t be long before you see a Model S. This all-electric car has become a phenomenon as much as a mode of transport. It has established Tesla as a real force within the automotive world over a relatively brief time. If conquest customers are the holy grail (luring buyers previously loyal to other makes), then Tesla — being so new — must be one of the best conquerors ever. The spacious, fast and futuristic Model S receives updates over the air, comes with semi-autonomous technology, has an iPad-like central display that measures 17 inches diagonally, and its center of gravity is as low as some supercars.
Photo by Tesla
This is how upscale the V90 is — it won’t be standing in a dealership’s showroom waiting for a customer to plonk down the starting price of around $52,000. It has to be specially ordered. One way to do that is by going to Volvo’s online concierge service, or through the company’s Overseas Delivery Program. The latter means a trip to Sweden to receive the car, drive it around a bit, then Volvo will ship it to the buyer’s home. Which sounds cool. Although the V90 is the cheapest of our 10 upscale cars, it’s arguably the most beautiful wagon ever, inside and out. Volvo has been reborn and it really is coming out with great stuff.
Photo by Volvo