‘Deliveries of world’s best luxury sedan underway.’ Bentley isn’t backward in coming forward as it announces the first customer deliveries of the all-new Flying Spur.
There are two things to pick out from this. First, ‘sedan’ isn’t a word we tend to use to describe four-door saloons. They’re saloons, plain and simple.
Second, that’s quite a claim. Self-proclaiming something to be the ‘world’s best‘ at anything is a little too high street for our tastes. ‘World’s best cup of coffee’, ‘world’s best kebab’ or ‘world’s best fish and chips’ – all fine, if a little hard to substantiate. But ‘world’s best sedan’ – has anybody consulted Rolls-Royce?
‘The all-new Bentley Flying Spur is the ultimate luxury Grand Touring sedan, offering the perfect fusion of performance-orientated agility and exclusive four-door, limousine-style comfort,’ says Bentley.
Notice the use of ‘ultimate luxury’ – Bentley is determined to ram home the ‘world’s best‘ angle. Still, you might expect the ultimate luxury for £168,300.
But what if you haven’t got the equivalent of a mortgage to spend on a luxury saloon? What if you haven’t even got 10 percent of the cash you’d need for an entry-level Flying Spur?
We can’t offer the perfect fusion of anything, but here’s a selection of four-door saloons that are available for less than £1,683. That’s 1 percent of the value of a Flying Spur. And you won’t even have to visit a Bentley dealer or apply any self-tanning lotion.
Toyota Camry V6
The Toyota Camry is one of the world’s most successful saloons. It’s particularly popular in America, where the combination of a smooth engine, ice-cold air conditioning, large cupholders and near-faultless reliability make it the choice of a nation. Or at least those who don’t drive a pick-up. Or an SUV. Or an Accord.
Over here, old versions of the Toyota Camry were more of an acquired taste. Company car drivers like to go around corners and avoid daily visits to the petrol station, which meant the Camry failed to feature on many fleet lists. The only thing faster than the depreciation was the Camry V6’s fuel needle.
Today, the combination of general apathy, crippling fuel economy and the anonymous styling means you can buy a really tidy Camry V6 for £1,000. Others cost even less…
Lexus IS 200
If the Lexus LS 400 is the ‘Japanese S-Class’, the IS 200 must be the ‘Japanese 3 Series’. It offers rear-wheel-drive dynamics, a smooth six-cylinder engine, a rather special cabin and some eye-catching dials designed to resemble a chronometer. The rear lights are also rather cool, although they spawned some aftermarket copy-cats of questionable taste.
Prices start from £500 for an MOT failure, but £1,000 should secure a serviceable example. A-ha!
If you’re someone who hates leaving the comfort of the living room, the Volvo S80 is the car for you. The seats are more nicer than anything you’d find in the DFS sale, while the carpets are sumptuous enough for you to consider driving barefoot. To criticise the S80 for being boring would be missing the point – this car was designed to waft.
Because you’re only paying pennies for your ultimate luxury saloon, we’d recommend the 4.4-litre V8, which is powerful enough to propel the Swedish lounge to 62mph in 6.5 seconds. At least you’ll be feeling relaxed and refreshed as you enter the petrol station for the umpteenth time this week.
Prices start from £1,000, although you won’t find any 3.2 or 4.4-litre models for one percent of the price of a Flying Spur.
There are fewer than 150 Chevrolet Epicas on the roads of Britain. That’s around a quarter of the number of Bentley Flying Spurs, so some degree of exclusivity is guaranteed. Stick that in your machine-polished pipe and smoke it.
You don’t need to tell anyone at the tanning salon that it’s little more than a rebadged Daewoo. Opt for the straight-six petrol engine unless you fancy touring the streets of Knutsford like a low-rent taxi. Get the LT spec, as this adds climate control, rear parking sensors, heated leather seats, auto wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a CD auto-changer, 17-inch rims and an electric driver’s seat to an already long list of standard equipment.
Prices start from £1,250. Why buy a Flying Spur when you drive something Epica?
The Hyundai Sonata is in the news thanks to that Super Bowl ad starring John Krasinski. The new sedan looks kinda cool, but although it’s cheaper than a new Flying Spur, it doesn’t fit our Super Budget. Besides, it’s been a while since the Sonata was available in the UK.
Back at the turn of the millennium, you’d invariably find the Sonata in one of two places: in a garden centre car park or parked on a driveway outside a bungalow in a provincial seaside town. Although there are other engines available, the V6 is the one you want if you’re hoping to fuse some performance-orientated agility.
If you like the feeling of saggy leather and fake wood, the Sonata is more desirable than a new Bentley. Prices start from around £600, which is the cost of a Bentley travel bag. You pays yer money and takes yer choice.
Not convinced by our left-field and alternative saloons? Auto Trader is awash with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Audi saloons available for 1 percent of the price of a new Flying Spur. Take a look for yourself.