There was a time, not too long ago, when buying a luxury car meant taking possession of a land yacht – a large, floating cruiser meant to provide the ultimate in comfort.
Think of the old Lincoln Continentals, Cadillac Eldorados, Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The cars were long, heavy, fuel-thirsty beasts decked out in all the latest conveniences and technology.
Today, that large luxury mentality still exists in the form of the Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LX and of course, Rolls-Royce and Bentley still embrace the large-and-in-charge attitude. But there’s also a new class of luxury developing; cars that are small and cheap (in comparison) and sip fuel while still surrounding the driver with plenty of dead cowskin and oodles of distracting technology.
Keep reading for a glimpse into the world of smaller and cheaper luxury cars.
The Audi A3 could be the coolest little luxury car ever. The 4-door hatch gets its power either from a 2.0-liter, 200-hp turbo 4-cylinder or a 42-mpg (highway) 2.0-liter diesel. For a starting price of just over $27 grand, you get high-end audio, lots of leather and a sporty-yet-luxurious interior that lives up to the Audi tradition.
The hybrid Lexus CT 200h starts at around $29K. While it shares a drivetrain with the Toyota Prius, the rest is uniquely Lexus and will coddle drivers in the lap of luxury. With similar mileage ratings to the A3 TDI’s, though, I’d opt for the Audi and sacrifice some plushness in the name of driving fun.
We don’t have confirmation that the Mercedes-Benz B-Class will make it to the States, but rumors have been swirling for years that we’ll see it here in 2012. If it arrives, expect to pay around $30,000 for the smallest MB ever sold in the United States. I’m not a huge fan of the current styling (it looks a little too mini R-Class for my tastes), but a U.S. version would likely be redesigned.
One of the cheapest luxury cars on the market is the Volvo C30. If its quirky Swedish styling that floats your boat more than performance and driver feedback, this sub-$25K 2-door hatch could be just the ticket. The turbocharged 2.5-liter, 227-hp 5-cylinder engine still has plenty of zest… just don’t shop it against the A3, and you’ll be perfectly happy.
Could there be a small luxury car in your future, or do you prefer the big floaters?