What a terrible day it’s been. Turbulence on your private jet meant your personal cabin crew wasn’t able to pour you one last glass of Dom Perignon. To make matters worse, that inattentive valet of yours managed to scuff your brand new Louis Vuitton luggage. As the wheels of your Lear Jet hit the runway, you’re anxious to disembark - eager to enjoy some fine dining. But there, sitting on the runway, is the final straw.
A lowly executive saloon, tasked with ferrying you to dinner.
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with an Audi A8, BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class, you desire - no, need - something less mainstream. Something as unique and tailor-made as the Savile Row suit you’re wearing.
Only a handful of the finest cars can fulfil that role. We take a look at the first-class luxury cars that can soothe the brow of even the most fevered oligarch.
Until the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class reaches South Africa, the GLS600 SUV is the only Maybach-branded option available locally. At R2 939 800, the Maybach SUV certainly isn’t cheap. But surprisingly, it isn’t the most expensive GLS derivative. That title belongs to the GLS 63 AMG, priced at R3 178 120. Still, the AMG focuses on performance whereas the GLS600 has a distinct focus on luxury.
Powered by a whisper-quiet turbo V8, the GLS600 has plenty of motivation to move the large body to and fro. 410 kW and 710 Nm of torque propel the lumbering leviathan to 100 km/h in just 4.9 seconds. Impressive, but not what the Maybach is about. Step inside the overtly clubby interior, and you’re greeted by plenty of tech and the finest materials. Still, there is plenty of room for personalisation. Buyers can choose from numerous trim and leather options, but beware. This can push the price up considerably.
Not sold on the GLS Maybach? Not to worry, the Maybach S-Class should find its way to South Africa sometime this year. Unlike the GLS, a V12 option will be made available.
Bentley Flying Spur
Once considered to be nothing more than an awkwardly styled Continental GT four-door, the Flying Spur has evolved into a beautifully designed, stand alone model in the range. Now that the Mulsanne is no longer in production, the Flying Spur is the only sedan made in Crewe. Two engine options are available; a V8 (R3 865 000) and the halo W12 (R4 310 000). Both models will surge past 300 km/h with ease, and hit 100 km/h in less than 4.2 seconds. The W12 has the obvious power (and refinement) advantage, the smooth 12-cylinder configuration providing near-silent propulsion.
The V8 model feels more dynamic, courtesy of the lighter powertrain, and delivers performance nearly as good as the W12’s, for a lot less money. Like the Maybach, Bentley’s are all about personalisation. Over 90 colours are available and, if you don’t like any of them, Bentley will paint it any colour you like.
Widely considered to be the final word in luxury, the latest Rolls-Royce Phantom has undeniable gravitas and presence. Aside from the stately styling, the big Roller is simply vast. From stem to stern, it measures 5 762 mm - and that’s the short wheelbase model. The extended model is nearly six metres long, giving those in the rear seats acres of space.
The eighth-generation Phantom is powered by a gargantuan 6.8-litre V12. Despite the size and power (420 kW and 900 Nm of torque), the Phantom never makes its presence heard. The V12 is as silent as it is effortless, heaving the behemoth about with ease.
As with the Bentley and Maybach, personalisation is what makes the purchase of a Rolls-Royce so special. Famously, the brand has over 44 000 shades of paint to choose from and can upholster the seats in any hide you desire. A unique touch is the gallery, which allows you to install an artwork in the dashboard of the car. Some customers have gone for paintings, others for sculptures. The sky truly is the limit for customers, with some even choosing to have diamonds and other precious stones encrusted into their cars.
Unlike the other two, Rolls-Royce does not list the price of their vehicles. Prices in the UK range from £375 000 (R7.6 million +), but that’s before any special features or options have been fitted. If you want the finest Rolls has to offer, you’re looking at a price tag closer to R10 million.