Luxury Cars – Australia’s Best Value Cars 2021: prestige car
If diversity is your thing then look no further than the medium and large prestige cars that start at around $55,000.
This used to be the prestige heartland, the price level that got you into a luxury brand, at least before the luxury brands began downsizing their wares.
There are traditional sedans and the occasional wagon lurking to snap up SUV-weary buyers.
Many have a sporty focus, the expectation that their driving manners should be a step above the mainstream.
Tesla even throws an all-electric model into the mix with its Model 3, a car that undercuts most rivals on servicing and running costs but is hurt by high insurance charges and a higher price of entry.
Not that any of the cars we analysed have anything like the used-car appeal of similarly-priced SUVs: while some still love the idea of a traditional prestige car, soft residual forecasts suggest it’s a segment that doesn’t interest nearly as many as it once did.
There’s no shortage of accomplished competition among the traditional heartbeat of the luxury market. But it’s the Audi A4 that emerges with the best combination of value, luxury and driving nous.
The $55,900 entry-level car is sharply priced against key rivals but still incorporates plenty into the most affordable 35 TFSI model.
There are 19-inch wheels, tri-zone air-conditioning and elegant finishes throughout, as well as partial leather seats and an electrically-adjusted driver’s seat.
The availability of a wagon is a plus, providing some SUV functionality with the sportier dynamics of a lower-riding car.
The addition of Audi Connect Plus allows smartphone connectivity to lock or unlock the doors and provide real-time traffic, fuel and weather information.
Smartphone connectivity incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder makes a modest 110kW but there’s a solid surge of pulling power lower in the rev range to make for easy touring and suburban running.
Now with mild hybrid tech the A4’s claimed 6.1L/100km fuel use undercuts key rivals, something that helped it to the top in this contest.
Many cars in this category fared below average for anticipated resale values, but the A4’s more affordable price shielded it from some of that pain.
Sensible service pricing and mid-level insurance charges round out a car that nicely blends luxury trimmings into a practical and affordable package.
As one of the early adopters of hybrid systems, the technology is paying off for Lexus.
And for the ES mid-sized sedan a hybrid is the only option. The frugal 4.6L/100km fuel use of the ES300h makes it among the most affordable sizeable luxury cars to keep moving.
That was a big contributor of the ES300h finishing on the value podium for 2020.
At $60,500 the ES300h doesn’t excel in other areas, but it does represent solid buying, the reputation for longevity no doubt helping its appeal when it comes time to trade in.
The large body also does a terrific job of making people comfortable, the focus more on a relaxing rather than spirited drive.
That said, the Toyota Camry-based ES300h has sound dynamics and a 2.5-litre four-cylinder mated to an electric motor that does a good job of keeping things moving.
Good connectivity and active safety add the finishing touches on a car that doesn’t make the hair on the back of your neck stand to attention but does ensure relaxed and reliable motoring.
Volvo’s focus in recent years has been on SUVs, something it’s kicked big goals with – both with sales and independent recognition.
But the traditional Volvo sedan also mounts a solid value case.
The S60 Momentum is priced from $55,990, and while its forecast resale percentage is below that of key rivals, insurers clearly see it as a safe option, the sub-$1000 annual comprehensive coverage adding up over five years of ownership.
That it’s delivered in a refreshingly Swedish style in a car with space reinforces its prestige positioning.