A few weeks ago, Rolls Royce - the kings of automotive luxury - told the world that the production of the seventh generation Phantom was coming to an end.
Despite financial problems during the tail end of the 20th century, Rolls Royce managed to be fully resurrected under the wing of BMW. Using a bespoke chassis with a creamy-smooth BMW V12, the Phantom luxury saloon was born, a car revered by the upper classes of society all over the world as a sign of wealth and decorum.
The Phantom saloon was relaunched in 2003, quickly followed by a drophead and coupe in later years. The 6.75-litre V12 was tuned to 453bhp and was capable of hauling the 2485kg car to 60mph in just 5.9 seconds. Top speed is seen as a vulgar statistic by the lords and ladies at Rolls Royce, so a 149mph limiter was applied although its ‘power-reserve gauge’ - otherwise known as a rev counter - would still show 11 per cent of unused power.
To pay tribute to this outgoing leviathan of comfort, prestige and performance, we’ve assembled a list of some of the fastest luxury yachts on the market. So sip your champagne and spread your caviar while you look over the greatest mixtures of speed and grandeur.
The Mercedes S-class has been the pinnacle of in-car technology since its release in 1972 with the W116, often pioneering in safety and entertainment. Once AMG started getting much more involved with Mercedes’ road car production, attention turned to the top-of-the-range saloon in its fourth generation (1998-2006). The S55 AMG and S 63 AMG were born, with the latter sporting a 6.3-litre V12.
The latest iteration of the AMG S-class has kept the same engine layout as its predecessor and it certainly isn’t wanting for power; a 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged V12 spits out 621bhp and will see the S 65 get from 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds before smashing into a (very) electronically limited top speed of 155mph. It’s safe to say that if the V12 was allowed to properly stretch its legs, it would probably creep up towards 200mph at a canter.
Not many production cars see power figures of over 600bhp and this unassuming Audi manages to fall just short of that exclusive club. 597bhp can be had from the 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8, giving the range-topping A8 some serious supercar-scaring credentials.
Priced at £16,000 over the 513bhp standard S8, this car follows the hike in performance seen with other Plus-badged Audis to justify the cost. £98,395 gets you a saloon car that tops out at 190mph, although Audi’s engineers have said the car could manage upwards of 200mph if a limiter wasn’t in place to save the tyres. In a way taking over from the Phaeton as the VW-group’s hyper saloon, the S8 Plus isn’t cheap but will humiliate virtually any vehicle that fancies a sprint up a section of highway.
Maseratis have always been easy on the eye and this trident-badged executive saloon is no exception. The GTS turns the standard Quattroporte up a notch with an estimated 0-60mph time of 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 193mph using a 3.8-litre, 523bhp V8.
Maserati appears to be saving up some serious cash (hopefully for a stonkingly-good Granturismo replacement) through its Levante SUV production along with cost cutting engineering solutions. For example, the Quattroporte GTS features an actuated radiator cover that allows the same radiator to be used throughout the entire Maserati production line.
Despite these cuts, this four-door saloon will set you back £115,980. I’d say it’s worth it if it makes you feel like a full-blooded mafia hitman, but that’s just me…
Any Porsche with ‘Turbo S’ written on the boot should not be taken lightly, even if inscribed on the four-door sports saloon of the range. Having emerged from a much-needed redesign, you could say the Turbo S E-Hybrid is the perfect blend between luxury motoring and supercar performance - sumptuous room and damping comes hand-in-hand with a combined 671bhp from a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 (543bhp) working in tandem with a 134bhp electric motor.
That means a quoted 0-62mph time of 3.4 seconds - it can’t quite match a fully-electric Tesla in outright acceleration, but it uses its 627lb ft of torque to blistering effect. £137,140 gets you Porsche’s latest shunt towards electrification and is potentially the car with the greatest sporting credentials on this list.
Once tied in a relationship with Rolls Royce, Bentley was set free from its UK-based sister when BMW and Volkswagen bought the two companies in 2003. It was at this point that Bentley seemed to gain a kick of performance to its production line, initially with the Continental GT.
Beforehand, huge 6.75-litre V8s were wasted as tools for cruising instead of setting lap times, but things have very much changed since the likes of the Azure and Turbo R.
Using the Volkswagen D1 chassis (shared with the Audi A8), Bentley produced the 200mph Flying Spur - a four-door alternative to the Continental GT. Bentley will give you a 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 for your troubles that’ll be good for 616bhp, although for £10,000 less you could settle for the 4.0-litre 500bhp V8.
The Flying Spur uses an eight-speed ZF gearbox to haul 2.5 tonnes along the highway and comes in at a whopping £170,000. But considering that most Flying Spur buyers will have someone to open the door for them at all times, that six-figure sum shouldn’t be an issue.
Alpina BMWs are the definition of factory sleepers, especially considering the stats the latest creation is sporting. The 2017 B7 Biturbo has been tested to 205mph, despite its initial forecasting of just 193mph. It manages to achieve this using the BMW 7-series as a base, along with a revised version of the N63 90-degree 4.4-litre V8.
By upgrading the two turbochargers, intercooler, pistons and exhaust system, the power output comes in at a McLaren-frightening 599bhp which is channeled (again) through an eight-speed ZF transmission.
The BMW M760li has come along and trumped the B7 in terms of cylinders with a 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12, but in outright performance terms, the independent company still has the last laugh.
Although we’re sad to see the seventh generation Phantom go, it hopefully won’t be long until a refreshed design comes along. And with BMW’s continuation of its V12 production, it seems the next car will have the perfect powertrain to cherry pick from the parts bin. In the meantime, the land yachts seen above should be able to quench the thirst of the rich and famous, especially those with a tendency to enjoy the odd blast across Europe or a few US States.
Which of these luxury performance saloons is your favourite? Have we missed any hot-footed aircraft carriers on wheels? Comment with your suggestions below!