3. Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupe
Of all the cars on this list, it’s the S63 Coupe that does the best job of being an all-out cruiser, but that comes at the expense of its sporting potential. That’s not to say there isn’t some performance prowess for the S63 to boast about – with its 4-litre twin-turbo V8 (the same as the one found in the AMG GT C, also on this list) putting out 604bhp and 664lb ft of torque it’s by no means slow. The S63 Coupe can reach 62mph in just 4.2sec and a top speed of 186mph if equipped with the AMG Driver’s Package – it’s restricted to the regular 155mph as standard.
Remarkably, considering those performance figures, there is an even faster and more powerful version of the S-class coupe. With a 6-litre twin-turbo V12, the S65 Coupe has 621bhp and can hit 62mph in 4.1sec. However, the V12 is noticeably heavier and its delivery is slightly lazier, shifting the car’s attitude even further towards being that of a luxury barge than a sporting GT. The S63 has a better spread of abilities than its V12 brother, and is more likely to put a smile on your face on a twisty back road.
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2. Lexus LC500
The Lexus LC500 looks like nothing else. In pictures you don’t sense just how unique its tall windowline, its Predator-style mouth, complicated lights and unadorned flanks make it look. On the road, amongst mostly dour European machinery and grotesque SUVs, it’s distinctive and supremely elegant.
But as unusual as it looks, it’s equally as conventional and natural to drive. Its 5-litre naturally aspirated V8 not only makes it feel fast thanks to a 470bhp output, it responds instantly to every squeeze of the accelerator and makes an intoxicating induction howl as you rev it, too.
The steady progression of torque (398lb ft that peaks at 4800rpm) means every millimetre of throttle travel is useful when controlling the car; it’s refreshing after the on/off torque delivery that turbocharged engines typically offer up. The engine allows you to easily exploit the rear-wheel-drive chassis, too. You have the control to keep things neat and quick around corners or flamboyant and sideways. It’s an incredibly fun car.
If anything, the Lexus’s GT attributes have been sacrificed to make its persona sportier; it’s a little too firm and a little too noisy to be the perfect cruiser. Also, the infotainment controls and driver aid buttons are so baffling and awkward to use that any serenity you’ve cultivated will be destroyed by the frustration they generate. However, with such an exquisite, well-built and interesting-looking interior there’s plenty to appreciate at low speeds.
1. Bentley Continental GT V8
The old Continental GT may have been a sales success for Bentley, but it was only really the special models, Supersports and GT3 versions that ever really impressed us. The brand-new Continental GT looks lower and sleeker than its predecessor but, even better, these visual attributes signal just how different it is to drive; it’s a more dynamic driving experience than ever before. That’s because, firstly, it sits on a platform co-developed with Porsche, so rather than taking the underpinnings from a VW Phaeton it shares a lot with the new Panamera – including electromechanical variable anti-roll bars and three-chamber air suspension.
Furthermore, the Continental GT now has a torque-varying four-wheel-drive system too. It predominantly sends torque to the rear wheels, only shifting drive to the front when more traction is required. In Sport mode, when the car’s in its most aggressive settings, only 17 per cent of drive ever goes to the front axle.
As well as being more agile and more entertaining on twisting roads than before, the GT is more cosseting and relaxed on a long cruise. The suspension, exhaust noise and gearbox in the new Continental are in their calmest state when the car’s in Comfort mode, making it feel like a true luxury car. A third mode, ‘Bentley’, straddles the gap between Comfort and Sport.
Although Bentley’s trademark twin-turbocharged W12 offers more performance and refinement than one could ever need, the V8 is the driver’s choice. Though it falls short of the W12’s 626bhp output, power delivery and a 50kg reduction in weight make the V8 GT considerably keener to change direction.