We've driven BMW's latest flagship car, the BMW 8 Series coupe. 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.
If you want the visual impact of a sports car, you often have to sacrifice practicality. The Audi A7 four-door coupe solves this first-world problem -has combined the practicality of a saloon car with the look of a sports car.
The A7 has two trim levels to choose from - Sport and S-line.
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.
The BMW 8 Series coupe is the brand's new flagship model.This luxury grand tourer is now the largest coupe 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 Coupe.
When compared with the DB11 (costing from £150,000), Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe (from £105,875), the (£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.
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:
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.
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 , 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.
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 , you'll get a lot more torque (pulling power). This makes this near two-tonne car feel very nippy, especially around town, and the engine is almost silent, too.
Hydrogen power solves many of the drawbacks of pure, 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.
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.
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 foronly£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.