If you want affordable, efficient, and reliable everyday cars, Japanese automakers have you covered. If you want a pickup truck or muscle car, look towards American automakers. However, if you want a luxury car, look towards European automakers. Over the last century, European automakers like Mercedes-Benz, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, and others have perfected the art of making world-beating luxury cars, which is why the rest of the world may never catch up.
There are lots of European luxury car options out there, but they’re not built the same, and you must be careful. This article explores five European luxury cars every gearhead should consider buying versus five they should avoid at all costs due to various reasons.
10/10 Bad European Luxury Car: BMW 7 Series (E65)
The 7-Series has been among the most popular BMW models since its debut in 1977. It’s BMW’s competitor against the likes of the Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and it has done a pretty good job over the years.
Most 7-Series generations make great purchases, but not the E65 of the 2000s. The E65 looked great on paper as it had powerful engines and lots of upgrades over its predecessors, but its poor reliability and complicated technologies made it a nightmare to live with. Many also didn’t like its design.
9/10 European Luxury Car We Want: BMW 535i (F10)
The 5-Series has had a great run since its introduction a half-century ago. It’s the perfect car for BMW fans who think the 7-Series is too large and the 3-Series is too compact.
Almost every 5-Series generation is easy to recommend, but we went with the sixth-generation F10. The F10 didn’t have drastic changes to its styling, but it was the first 5-Series to offer a turbocharged V8 engine, a hybrid drivetrain, active rear-wheel steering, a double-wishbone front suspension, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and automatic parking.
8/10 Bad European Luxury Car: 2014 Maserati Ghibli
Maserati has used the ‘Ghibli’ name several times in the past, but for this article, we’ll focus on the latest iteration that debuted in 2014. The 2014 Ghibli stunned gearheads with its sheer beauty and leather-filled interior, but everything else about it left many wondering why it cost almost $100,000.
For one, although it had many luxury features, the Ghibli’s interior was cramped up compared to its competitors. The Ghibli also had Maserati’s famous reliability – or lack thereof. Maserati has fixed many of the Ghibli’s issues in recent years, but you should probably avoid early model years.
7/10 European Luxury Car We Want: Volkswagen Phaeton GP1 W12
Unlike most German automakers, Volkswagen is known for building affordable everyday cars like the Beetle and Golf. The automaker wanted to change that in the early 2000s, so it built the Phaeton – a superb luxury sedan that competed against the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
The Phaeton had every luxury feature you could think of and was powered by a massive W12 engine, giving it incredible performance. However, its sedate styling and almost $100,000 price made it a hard sell, which is why it flopped. Phaeton prices have collapsed since, which is why we recommend getting the first-generation model.
6/10 Bad European Luxury Car: 2016 Range Rover
When asked to name a luxury SUV, the first vehicle that most gearheads think of is the Range Rover. The Range Rover is undoubtedly one of the greatest luxury SUVs, loved for its recognizable design, ultraluxurious cabin, and ability to go off-road.
However, while many gearheads would love to own a Range Rover, it’s probably not a good idea to buy a used one. Used Range Rovers have a reputation for suffering from multiple costly breakdowns, and the 2016 model is a perfect example.
5/10 European Luxury Car We Want: 2010 Audi A6
The Audi A6 has always been one of the top executive sedans, competing against the BMW 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and other top options. The A6 has had many great generations, but we have a soft spot for the third-generation models, particularly the 2010 model year.
The 2010 A6 had a clean look, superb interior, and several powerful engines to choose from. The 2010 A6 received an 89/100 J. D. Power Quality & Reliability score, which is impressive for a German luxury car.
4/10 Bad European Luxury Car: Jaguar S-Type
When Ford owned Jaguar in the ’90s, one of its main goals was to build a luxury sedan that could compete with the Germans. After several years of development, Jaguar introduced the S-Type to do just that.
The S-Type was impressive at first, as gearheads loved its retro-inspired design and luxury features. However, the S-Type was based on Ford’s horrible DEW platform, which means it eventually gained a reputation for unreliability.
3/10 European Luxury Car We Want: 2015 Jaguar XF
After the failure of the above S-Type, Jaguar needed to ensure that its successor was better in every way. So Jaguar went to work and built the XF.
The XF kept features gearheads loved about the S-Type and fixed its mistakes, turning it into one of the best British luxury cars. The XF is now in its second generation and continues to offer its buyers great value for their money.
2/10 Bad European Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz S-Class W220
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has always set the standards which other manufacturers follow when developing their luxury sedans. It always oozes elegance and usually has technology and engineering that’s ahead of its time.
However, not all S-Class generations are great. The W220 was particularly awful, despite its much-improved appearance compared to its predecessor – the legendary W140. The W220 is extremely unreliable due to complicated electronics, which is why it has depreciated massively in price.
1/10 European Luxury Car We Want: Mercedes-Benz 500E
In the early ’90s, Mercedes-Benz needed a new high-performance version of the fabled E-Class to boost sales. But since it was too busy working on the next S-Class generation, it hired Porsche to build the car, resulting in the 500E.
Porsche’s main job was to modify the standard E-Class chassis so that it could accommodate a V8 engine, and they did it perfectly. With an output of 322 hp, it’s easy to see why the 500E is considered to be one of the coolest sleeper cars of the ’90s.