Luxury sedan options in the ₹50 lakh to ₹65 lakh price bracket are aplenty but what does each option bring to the fore that the other doesn't?
With SUVs a dime a dozen, the stature once enjoyed by sedans in world markets may be dwindling noticeably. And yet, luxury car makers are sparing no efforts to ensure that their respective offerings in the premium sedan segment not only build on inherent strengths of a premium ride experience but are loaded to the brim - or panoramic sunroof in many instances - with features galore. If the Jaguar XF has a performance as its forte, the E-Class stands for opulence. If Volvo S90 is almost synonymous with safety and attention to microscopic details, the BMW 5 Series stands for a plush drive experience. Some are flashy, some are planted, some are excitable and some are regally exquisite. But what is common between all of these options in the premium luxury space is the common will to be the flag-bearer of sedans against bigger, mostly meaner looking SUVs.
The Indian customer in the luxury car space, as with customers in many parts of the world, has options galore and each of the premium sedans - XF, E-Class, S90 and 5 Series - bring about a whole lot of their own individual strengths to the fore. There is an underlying emphasis on luxury, yes, but the varying degree to which it is offered, as with other traits like ride comfort, performance, technology and safety, is what brings about the not-so-subtle differences.
Take Volvo's flagship sedan, for instance. The S in S90 may as well stand for safety because the Swedish car maker has continued to prioritize this above all else. Loaded with features with the dual intention of avoiding accidents and keeping passengers secure, the S90 claims to be one of the safest passenger vehicles around. Is it flashy to look at? Not quite. Has it the got the performance to set hearts racing? Not really. Does it have a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating? Sure. A mile-long list of technologically-advanced safety features? Certainly. This, backed by a refined cabin and a 2.0-litre diesel engine with 190bhp of power, props it up with its own set of weapons to battle rivals with.
It is not that rival luxury makers haven't come a long, long distance when it comes to making their offerings far safer than they have ever been.
The E-Class from Mercedes may be best known for its luxurious cabin - one of the reasons behind its massive popularity in global markets. From ambient lighting to premium sound system, from high-quality upholstery to the option to choose from 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engine options, this champion in its segment has been a firm favourite among buyers for some time now. And even if its safety features aren't in the same league as a Volvo, it is quite an exhaustive list nonetheless.
Then there is the XF from Jaguar, a sedan that is meant for those seeking a thrill ride. And literally at that. Perhaps the sportiest-looking luxury sedans around, the XF gets a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine from its Ingenium family and has 197 bhp of power. It may not boast of an impressive mileage - just about touching double digits, but it seeks to more than make up for it with a performance-oriented drive. Where it does lack though is in terms of cabin space and the premium quotient in quality of interiors. Here is a car that yearns to be driven rather then be seated in.
And this is true to a large extent for the BMW 5 Series as well. It has one of the most powerful diesel engines around and the petrol motor is no drip either - 247 bhp here for the taking. Its looks may divide opinions but there is no denying that it seeks to - and manages to - offer a commanding drive or ride experience, irrespective of where you sit inside the car.
Then there is the Audi A6 and Lexus ES which, in their own ways, seek to woo and wow prospective buyers. And while Audi's strength lies in its SUVs and Lexus may be a fringe player, the A6 and ES both offer a cabin full of gizmoz and glitz, respectively, to also be formidable options.
Mercedes E Class
BMW 5 Series
197bhp at 4500-6000rpm
202bhp at 5500-6100
247bhp at 5200
320 Nm at 1500-4000rpm
320 Nm at 1650-4000
350 Nm at 1450-4800rpm
The underlying common factor driving all of these luxury sedans is, well, luxury itself. And yet, each plays to its best strength the most. It is in the varying order of preferences for each individual buyer that the success of each of these offerings eventually depend on. And that includes its fate against the rising prominence and dominance of luxury SUVs as well.
(Note: Volvo S90 is the only car in the above comparison to be offered with a diesel engine option alone)