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Luxury and hi-tech family cars reviewed: are any worth the price?

Luxury cars seem to be getting even more expensive. Is the cost worth it, or are there great premium alternatives?

We’ve driven BMW’s latest flagship car, the BMW 8 Series coupé. We’ve also taken to the road in Audi’s lavish practical rival, the Audi A7, and BMW’s sumptuous SUV, the X5. But with prices starting from a cool £55K for even the cheapest of these, and skyrocketing when you add options, is the expense justified? Our experts find out.

If you’re interested in a greener, luxury model, we’ve also tested the Hyundai Nexo hydrogen-powered SUV. This costs the same as the BMW X5, at around £60,000, yet has zero tailpipe emissions. It refuels in a little as five minutes, unlike an electric car.

Not yet in a position to fork out for an expensive model? You don’t have to miss out.

We’ve also reviewed two cheaper alternatives that cost less than £21,000: Audi’s biggest seller, the Audi A3, and the hi-tech Toyota Yaris Hybrid. Could these be more cost-effective choices, giving you budget to add on luxury options? Our experts give their verdict.

Looking for the ideal car to buy right now? Skip straight to our top cars to buy in 2019.

Audi A7 Sportback, £55,155

If you want the visual impact of a sports car, you often have to sacrifice practicality. The Audi A7 four-door coupé solves this first-world problem – Audi has combined the practicality of a saloon car with the look of a sports car.

This style of car has proved incredibly popular. The A7 faces stiff competition from the likes of the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé and Mercedes CLS, although the Gran Coupé is considerably more expensive, at £79,931.

The A7 has two trim levels to choose from – Sport and S-line.

  • The entry-level Sport offers leather upholstery, all LED lights and 19-inch alloy wheels. You also get Audi’s MMI Navigation Plus, which includes a 10.1-inch touchscreen, digital radio and wireless charging for compatible phones.
  • The S-Line trim makes for even sportier looks inside and out.

You can add extra features such as self-parking. But you also have to pay extra for even fairly rudimentary features, including a heated windscreen and electrically folding door mirrors.

This is quite a big ask for a car that will set you back around £55,000, and especially compared with the vast amount of tech that comes as standard on the Toyota Yaris Hybrid for only £15,418.

Find out whether this is the stylish but practical car you’ve been looking for. See our first look Audi A7 Sportback review.

BMW 8 Series (2018-), £76,720

The BMW 8 Series coupé is the brand’s new flagship model. This luxury grand tourer is now the largest coupé in BMW’s line-up.

The 8 Series aims to showcase the very best tech, luxury and performance and is a revival of a name that was a tech-packed tour-de-force back in the 1990s. It also faces strong competition from the Aston Martin DB11 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé.

When compared with the DB11 (costing from £150,000), Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé (from £105,875), the Porsche Panamera (£73,956) and Lexus LC (£76,595) the price of just over £76,000 actually looks quite reasonable. Provided you have plenty of money, of course.

BMW has packed the 8 Series full of every driver aid and performance technology in the company’s toolshed, with eight-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive as standard (although, as you’d expect from a sports car, power is sent to the rear wheels under normal conditions).

It’s also fitted with rear-wheel steering, giving greater agility in tight corners and greater stability in high-speed corners and motorway lane changes.

Two engines are available:

  • a 320hp 3.0-litre diesel
  • the range-topping 530hp 4.4-litre V8 petrol, with prices for the latter starting from £99,525.

Looking for your dream car? Have a look at our video and first impressions in our expert BMW 8 Series review.

BMW X5 (2019-), £57,495

BMW’s large premium X5 SUV has the odd brief of having to be luxurious and sophisticated, but capable of superb off-road driving as well.

It’s now in its fourth generation, and there are three engines to choose from. All engines are six-cylinder with automatic eight-speed transmission and BMW’s all-wheel-drive system.

  • 30d diesel with 265hp
  • 50d diesel with a huge 400hp
  • 40i petrol with 340hp.

Adaptive air suspension, allowing you to adjust the height of the car, comes as standard (apart from the M50d). This allows you to increase or decrease the ride height by 4cm each way from its default setting.

Expected around February 2019, you’ll be able to buy a seven-seat variant for around an additional £1,395.

Be aware, however, that the Honda CR-V hybrid, which costs around half the price, offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard. In the X5 you only get free Apple CarPlay for one year, and then need to pay £89 for an extra year, or around an extra £300 to keep it permanently. That’s hard to swallow when others offer it free of charge.

Are you looking for a premium SUV? See what we thought in our first look BMW X5 review.

Hyundai Nexo (2018-), £60,000

Going on sale in March 2019, the Hyundai Nexo is the second hydrogen car offered in the UK alongside the Toyota Mirai. Hyundai aims to make the Nexo feel very familiar to a conventional SUV.

The Nexo’s one electric engine option delivers the equivalent of 163hp, sending the power to the front wheels with single-speed transmission.

While this power is similar to that of a medium hatchback such as the VW Golf, you’ll get a lot more torque (pulling power). This makes this near two-tonne Hyundai car feel very nippy, especially around town, and the engine is almost silent, too.

Hydrogen power solves many of the drawbacks of pure electric cars, with refuelling times as quick as with petrol and diesel cars. Hydrogen is combined with oxygen from the air to generate electricity, with the only by-product being pure water.

What currently holds back the technology is a lack of hydrogen refuelling pumps to fill them up – there are currently fewer than 20 refuelling stations in the UK, with most concentrated around London.

We’ve put this hydrogen car through our full lab test – find out whether the tech’s up to the task in our comprehensive, expert Hyundai Nexo review.

Audi A3 (2012-), £20,445

Easily Audi’s biggest seller, the Audi A3 medium hatchback, competes against the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

With the entire model range given a facelift in 2016, new safety tech and a semi-autonomous traffic-jam negotiating cruise control have been added, as well as more engine options.

There are three petrol and three diesel engines to choose from, with a new three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine producing 116hp, the joint least-powerful option alongside the 1.6-litre diesel. The 1.5-litre petrol option is even fitted with Audi’s fuel-saving ‘cylinder-on-demand’ technology to imperceptibly reduce fuel consumption while cruising.

The Audi A3 is less than half the cost of the A7, making it a great way to get a premium-badged car at a much lower cost. However, optional extras can be costly for a car of this price, so it’s best to add them sparingly.

Are you looking for an affordable premium car? See whether this is the right fit for you in our definitive Audi A3 review.

Toyota Yaris Hybrid (2012-), £15,418

You don’t always need to spend a huge premium to get the latest tech. Toyota aims to bring the latest hybrid technology to family buyers with the Yaris Hybrid, a small car that belies its dimensions with impressive interior space.

It promises impressive fuel economy – a remarkable 85.6mpg for post-2014 models, and even lower for older models. Our independent tests reveal whether it can actually achieve these figures.

The Yaris Hybrid is available as a five-door automatic. The 1.5-litre petrol engine combined with hybrid electric power offers a respectable 100bhp.

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid is a hi-tech powerhouse – Toyota’s given it the Yaris’ highest Excel trim, which means  you get automatic headlights, LED rear lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone air conditioning and push-button start.

It also has Toyota’s Safety Sense system, which includes autonomous emergency braking, automatic high beam, a lane-departure warning system, and the ability to recognise road signs and warn you if you’re going too fast or approaching a hazard. This is quite impressive for only £15,418, and makes the high prices of luxury cars harder to swallow.

You can add even more luxury to the Yaris Hybrid with options for a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, front and rear parking sensors, and Toyota’s ‘Touch 2’ multimedia and navigation system.

Is this the smart way to go high-tech? See the results of our full lab test in our comprehensive Toyota Yaris Hybrid review.

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