What makes a car luxurious? Is it a perceptible feeling of quality? Is it the car’s brand? The ambience inside the cabin? The materials that make up the car? The way the car rides? Or is it the price, with expensive simply translating to luxury?

The Rolls Royce Phantom is considered to sit at the very pinnacle of automotive luxury. It doesn’t just offer a perceptible feeling of quality, it sets new standards. Likewise, for ambience, materials, and ride. And yet, the Ford Fiesta Vignale is marketed as luxurious. It costs not even a fifth of the price of the Rolls Royce, yet it wraps you up in a plush cabin and keeps you comfy with its heated leather seats.

Both cars can be considered luxurious. Would you be wrong for considering so?

Now let’s consider brand. Mercedes-Benz is a luxury car brand. They manufacture the S-Class, a class-leading luxury saloon and limousine. But they also manufacture the Smart Car, a vehicle that’s about as far from luxurious as you can get. Clearly, brand does not always or clearly translate to luxury. Something has to give.

Defining luxury

What does luxury mean?

We would define a luxury as something that is pleasant or desirable, but not a necessity, that can be purchased at expense. A gold pen is a luxury. A Rolex is a luxury. A Porsche is a luxury. In many areas of the world, clean water is a luxury.

Luxury does not necessarily mean exclusivity, but in the car world the two terms are mostly interchangeable. They complement one another. For instance, most luxury cars are exclusive. The Porsche 911 is an excellent example. The Audi R8 another. We buy and sell many luxury models, some of which we never see again because they are so exclusive, and so rare. Limited edition models, and imports, and prime examples.

Experience is luxury

Personalising what luxury means

So, we raised a question before: both the Rolls Royce Phantom and the Ford Fiesta Vignale can be considered luxurious. Would you be wrong for considering so?

Our answer is no. You see, what makes a car luxurious to most is simple: experience. The experience it gives you when you sit in and play with it; the experience it gives you when you drive it. Not only that, but your past experiences with other cars comes into play when it comes to luxury. If you are used to a bone-crashing ride, or you are used to playing your music from CDs, then a car with a subtle ride or a car with Bluetooth connectivity would be luxurious to you in different ways. This can be categorised as personalised luxury.

Pleasing the senses

For luxury, senses matter more than features

Of course, what you look for in a car makes you unique. Families might want space and safety in their car. Business users might want good fuel economy and a comfortable ride to soak up the miles. These are features. Features define how a car appears on paper, and in your head. With luxury, it is senses that define how the car will capture your heart, and for most car sales, senses rule supreme over features.

In the most basic sense, cars should look and feel good. They should be pleasing on the eye, and equally pleasing on the inside. The sound, the smell, the appearance; all these things will pluck at your heart strings when buying a car. Pleasing the senses, as you might expect, is something automotive brands go to great lengths to do. That’s also why modern cars are available with so many options, and in so many configurations.

Craftsmanship separates the rest

Sometimes, you just have to admire craftsmanship

True luxury is another thing entirely. True luxury goes beyond marketing. It can be found with high-end automotive manufacturers. Rolls Royce is the best example here. The new Rolls Royce Phantom is simply unmatched for luxury. What makes it luxurious is a combination of things, but none matter more so than craftsmanship. Exquisitely appointed and hand-made in the UK, you don’t get any better than the Phantom.

The other things that make it luxurious; the perceptible feeling of quality, the soothing ambience inside the cabin, the materials that make-up the car, the way the car rides, and how much it costs (from £360,000 if you’re interested); combine to create a truly unrivalled passenger and driver experience.

Another car that’s super-luxurious is the new Bentley Continental. Its design evokes a genuine sense of speed and presence. It’s a beautiful machine from the outside, but it’s from the inside where its luxury shines through. Polished chrome, wood veneers, 15 genuine leather hides to choose from, plush carpets, aluminium, and expert craftsmanship combine to create a sublime cabin befitting of the world’s finest GT.