Top ten best flagship cars
Recently, we created a list of our favourite cars for under £3,000. This was designed to help car buyers who were looking for a bargain, but there are other ways.
Sometimes, choosing a flagship model can be a bargain. If, for example, you were to choose a less premium brand, but kitted it out with a high level of equipment, it could lead to a car capable of matching more expensive versions on the market for a cheaper price.
A high-spec, or flagship, model can also offer more choice; be it body colour, interior trim or gadgets and gizmos.
So if you are looking for a new car and want something a bit special to stand out from the range, we’ve compiled a list of the best ten flagship cars available today.
Kia Picanto ‘3’
For some, the Kia Picanto will be a surprising addition to a list of flagship cars, but it goes to show the huge strides taken with the new supermini from the Korean manufacturer.
It looks great – a testament to Kia’s hugely successful new design team – and on the road it handles well and enjoys a small turning circle for city driving.
Trim levels are fairly easy to understand because they are labelled 1, 2 and 3. At the top of the range, the ‘3’ model includes automatic air conditioning, heated front seats, a six-speaker surround sound system, voice recognition, Bluetooth and a host of other goodies.
It also includes daytime running lights, 15" alloy wheels and a leather steering wheel with black upholstery inside and chrome detailing to the exterior.
All this creates a comfortable, high-quality package to compete with the more established small cars – and all for just £11,195!
Fiat 500 BiColour
Much has been made of the eco-friendly ‘TwinAir’ models, but at the top of the 500 range, paying a little extra means driving home probably the best upmarket city car available on the market.
It also give the owner the chance to boast a unique-looking model. For example, the Fiat 500 Bicolour allows owners the choice of separate bottom and top half colours for the Fiat along with matching interior and styling alloy wheels.
For around £12,450 the car, which was once voted World’s Sexiest Car by Top Gear, is even available with that ultra-efficient TwinAir technology.
Of course, special editions such as the Fiat 500 Matt Black and Fiat 500byGucci are also available if a little extra exclusivity is needed.
Staying on the customisation theme, the range-topping Citroen DS3 (excluding the DS3 Racing hot hatch) is capable of challenging the likes of the premium Audi A1 in terms of equipment, while adding a touch of style to the mix.
Choose a Citroen DS3 DSport model and not only do you get a choice of body colours, roof graphics and interior designs, you also get the classy ‘floating roof’, double chrome exhaust and a rear spoiler with the high-spec model.
Equipment includes automatic air conditioning, Bluetooth and a good sound system. Priced from around £17,000, the Citroen DS3 DSport is the car to finally replace Mini as the must-have fashionable small car.
Renault Wind Gordini
The Renault Wind Gordini version is the master of compromise. Looking for a sporty two-seat sports car? The compact Renault Wind is fun to drive, features a quick-folding electric roof and sporty looks.
These are enhanced by Renault adding a top-level trim in recognition of the famous Gordini race cars of the past. However, this does not mean this is a high-performance version of the car, allowing for lower running costs and insurance prices.
Instead, drivers get an attractive two-seat hatchback with an upmarket, sports-inspired package including a blue body colour with famous white racing stripe, Gordini badges and detailing to the upholstery and Gordini 17" alloy wheels.
Plus, all this comes for only £15,195 – making it one of the cheapest roadsters on the market.
Ford Focus Titanium X
The Ford Focus is the best hatchback you can buy, and if the top level Titanium X model is chosen, it is easily capable of competing with premium manufacturers.
Starting from £21,250, the Ford Focus Titanium X offers a fearsome array of equipment inside and out, including heated front sports seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a top-spec sound system, Bluetooth, active park assist, LED running lights, parking sensors and a plethora of clever touches such as voice activation.
Ford is proud of the amount of technology packed into even standard Ford Focus cars, so the range topper is a bit special.
This is matched with the equipment, comfort and above all else, on-road dynamics of Ford’s best car.
Alfa Giulietta Cloverleaf
Ask an Alfa Romeo fan and they will tell you the Cloverleaf name and badge represents the very best in Italian automotive and motor sport engineering.
The badge has adorned some of Alfa’s most popular racing cars and the name has been revived for the range-topping Alfa Romeo Cloverleaf.
The benefits of this flagship model lie in performance – the 235bhp diesel engine is a fiery unit capable of an impressive turn of speed, almost propelling the Cloverleaf into hot hatch territory.
However, the trim also includes some styling touches such as tinted rear windows, red brake callipers, 18" spoke design allow wheels and the famous Cloverleaf badge.
If you’re looking for a hatchback but want a sporty, emotive car as well, the Giulietta Cloverleaf is an ideal choice.
Peugeot RCZ GT
How do you take on the mighty Audi TT, for too long the final word in sporty 2+2 coupe’s in the UK?
For a start, you could design something that looks even better. The Peugeot RCZ is a low, sporty coupe featuring a clever ‘double bubble’ roof design.
It looks great and GT versions can also stand up to the Audi in terms of equipment, with electric and heated sports front seats, leather upholstery and front and rear parking aids as standard.
It also features 19" alloy wheels and automatic lights for the exterior and under the bonnet, the 200hp engine provides enough performance to create an extremely enjoyable ride.
Peugeot has called this model one of its ‘special’ cars, and the £26,000 RCZ GT is certainly that.
Vauxhall Insignia Elite
While the Vauxhall Insignia VXR adds power and performance, the Elite trim level could be the ideal choice as a company car option.
Starting from £25,000, the Vauxhall Insignia Elite boasts all the equipment and high quality materials expected from an executive saloon without the price tag.
It’s an ideal way to downsize without sacrificing quality or comfort. Featuring dual-zone climate control, a heat reflective windscreen, a full leather trim with heated front seats, and a full colour satellite navigation system, it is designed with quality in mind.
The Insignia also includes Flexride technology to iron out the bumpy UK roads, while the ecoFLEX engines are superbly economic to match.
Jaguar XF Portfolio
At £43,000, the Jaguar XF Portfolio probably will not be seen by many as a bargain. However, if you’re in the market for a top class executive car with all the trimmings, the XF Portfolio represents surprising value for money.
For the price, you get a luxurious interior including soft grain leather seats and instrument panel, suede headlining, premium carpets, automatic climate control and a plethora of gadgets such as a top sound system, touch screen, heating and cooling seats, Bluetooth, a hard disc and blue halo illumination.
There’s also the usual high quality alloy wheels, Bi-xenon headlamps and other exterior equipment designed to offer the most executive-feeling saloon on the market.
Power comes from a range of refined diesel engines and a single powerful 5.0-litre petrol, and the quality of the XF in eating up motorway miles in the utmost comfort is top notch.
Range Rover Autobiography
Abandoning all pretence of bargain-hunting in our final addition to the list, the Range Rover Autobiography is an incredible piece of kit and one of the highlights of UK car manufacturing in recent years.
Land Rover calls it ‘The ultimate in Range Rover luxury, craftsmanship and exclusivity’ and it would be difficult to disagree. Highlights include full leather interior with a 14-piece wood veneer trim with a choice of woods.
Unique tread plates, premium carpet mats and four-zone climate control with heated and cooled seats highlight the attention to detail Land Rover has paid to this incredible 4×4 SUV.
An ‘Ultimate edition’ even adds iPads as standard, but this will set you back upwards of £100,000. Standard models in Autobiography specification start from £85,745.