2017 BMW 3 Series Front Driving ・ Photo by BMW
“Stylish sedans” might be considered an oxymoron to some car fans. The coupe and roadster have long been the stars of automotive design, while sedans are defined by their functionality. Designers often struggle to camouflage the rear doors, and several manufacturers even call some of their 4-door models “coupes,” appropriating the name for sedans with “coupe styling.”
But let’s celebrate the sedan. Form follows function, and the second set of doors allows designers to elongate wheelbases and silhouettes to emphasize strength and elegance. Long hoods hint at horsepower, and low rooflines cheat the wind. The result is Style, with a capital “S.”
Here are 10 stylish sedans for your consideration (in alphabetical order by brand).
First up alphabetically, the 2017 Audi S8 plus is a great example of a stylish sedan that embraces its function – which is to transport passengers at top speed in whisper-quiet comfort. The S8 is tailored like a Hugo Boss suit, with crisp lines that define its body, stark wheel openings, a taut arch outlining its greenhouse and a proud grille opening that looks like it is ready to swallow the road whole. Inside, the appointments are executed with architectural precision. Audi’s build quality is second-to-none, and the tight gaps and seams and flawless paint are part of the S8’s appeal. LED exterior lighting adds to the mystique and style of the S8, instantly identifying the stylish sedan on the road day or night.
Photo by Audi
Modern and timeless simultaneously, the 2017 Bentley Flying Spur allows you to see the entire history of Bentley design in one truly stylish sedan. It all starts with the face: Twin round headlamps flank a bold signature grille, tastefully displaying the classic winged “B” emblem. The long hood bulges with power. The domed greenhouse evokes the elegance of the 1930s, while the muscular wheel arches leave no doubt that this Flying Spur can really take wing. The tall rear deck promises voluminous carrying capacity, befitting a large sedan for successful occupants. Inside, luxury features coddle driver and passengers alike, with heirloom quality woods and leathers. Stylish sedans aspire to this level of quality.
Photo by Bentley
Long touted as “the ultimate driving machine,” the BMW 3 Series has evolved over six generations since 1975 into a stylish sedan in addition to a benchmark performance car. The current sedan, code named “F30” to BMW insiders, presents the most stylish version of the company’s dual-kidney grille yet. The long hood slopes down in a continuous curve that embraces the grille, bringing echoes of sports car cousins, with the safety benefit of improved forward visibility and pedestrian compatibility. The sedan is supremely grounded, yet a rising shoulder line hints at speed. 3 Series’ pure unadorned interior design strikes a balance between starkness and purposeful crispness, with a driver-centric layout that enhances connection with the machine.
Photo by BMW
Style isn’t confined to luxury vehicles. Witness the 2017 Ford Fusion, a very affordable and stylish sedan. Wearing a grille that owes royalties to Aston Martin design, the Fusion uses crisp body folds and lines to give the feeling of speed and motion even when in repose. The hood is a work of art, with sculpted lines that create interest and dimension beyond pure function. Expressive headlights are carved into the front fenders, completing a face with feline intelligence. Inside, a surprising level of luxury and class is on display, especially in the Platinum trim level, where style and function are at their highest levels. Ford used to ask, “Have you driven a Ford lately?” If you haven’t sat in a Fusion lately, you’re missing out on a very stylish sedan.
Photo by Ford
Arguably the most stylish lineup of any Japanese luxury brand, Infiniti boasts several superb designs among its vehicles. The most stylish Infiniti sedan is the 2017 Infiniti Q70, a fullsize performance car. Q70’s silhouette is its greatest strength. Long and low, Q70 looks like it is squatting down on its big wheels, ready to spring forward at a tap of the throttle. The steeply-raked windshield leans back, meeting the low roof in a rush toward the vehicle’s rear, where a short deck and tastefully integrated spoiler give evidence to the virtues of well-tuned aerodynamics. Inside, some of the best leather seats and finely-finished trim pieces display a high level of craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Photo by Infiniti
Jaguar’s Head of Design Ian Callum is a legend in automotive design. Callum and his team have systematically remade the entire Jaguar lineup from stuffy old-fashioned designs that relied too heavily on the Jaguar legacy into a cutting-edge collection of modern luxury performance vehicles. The 2017 Jaguar XJ is the brand’s flagship fullsize sedan, and it is a stunner. Highlighted by a bold, crescent-shaped daylight opening (designer-speak for the side windows of a car), the XJ rides behind an impossibly long hood and upright grille. Big wheels remind you that this Jag can dance, and tasteful brightwork brings attention to the details. Inside, technology meets men’s club comfort, with rich leather, wood, and real metal finishes executed with a distinctly British flair.
Photo by Jaguar Land Rover
Sometimes, a stylish sedan can completely reframe a brand’s identity. The 2017 Kia Optima is one of those sedans, brought to us from the design team headed by Peter Schreyer. Wearing a compressed version of the brand’s signature “Tiger Nose” grille, the Optima presents a face that belies its affordable roots. A taut skin features crisp body lines and muscular bulges in all the right places, with tastefully large wheel arches and a windswept roofline. Inside, Kia’s generous set of near-luxury features are nicely built and smartly arrayed. An available panoramic sunroof enhances the sense of space and openness in the cabin, making the midsize sedan feel roomy, even in the back seat. Excellent material selection amplifies the effect that attention to detail supplies.
Photo by Kia
When it comes to stylish sedans, a list is incomplete without an Italian entry. Italy is arguably the international capital of design, and the 2017 Maserati Quattroporte is its signature stylish sedan. With most stylish sedans, visual elements make the strongest impression. With the Quattroporte, sound dominates the senses. The 3.0-liter V6 and 3.8-liter V8 engines are built by Ferrari, and the unmistakable engine notes from either engine choice draw the attention of drivers, passengers and passers-by. When they look at the impossibly long, low and sleek Maserati, the curves coated in lustrous paint and accented with rich chrome incite envy and desire. If you’re lucky enough to slip inside Quattroporte’s interior, be sure to notice the hand-stitched 2-tone leather and burnished real wood trim.
Photo by Maserati
In a sea of sameness, the 2017 Mazda6 stands alone as a stylish sedan. The midsize sedan category can sometimes be classified as appliances, where the primary focus is on function and efficiency rather than style. Mazda6 incorporates these important elements, but never loses sight of the art of design. Mazda designers use an aesthetic that they call “KODO – Soul of Motion,” which has as its hallmark the concept of motion in repose. The exterior of the Mazda6 is styled to capture the sense of movement in its shape, with the result being a fluid, elegant profile that appears vibrant and alive, even when parked. The driver-centric interior exhibits a tailored, crisp look, with clean lines and high-quality materials.
Photo by Mazda
If a stylish sedan that starts at $96,600 can be described as “stealth,” it would be the 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan. The oft-overused term “iconic” can also be applied to the S-Class, the very sight of which brings to mind successful business people and important personages. From the chromed Mercedes-Benz hood ornament to the assertive and proud body shape, the S-Class commands respect and oozes quality. The driver is treated to a pilot’s cockpit loaded with technology, while passengers are coddled with rich luxury features. The S-Class can be personalized for additional style and delight – even the cabin aroma can be controlled with an available scent-generating system. This is a stylish sedan for successful owners with no need to show off.
Photo by Mercedes-Benz