Top Three... Luxury cars for under £1K

Nothing beats the feeling of wafting down the road, ensconced within a luxury cocoon of leather and walnut, letting the miles just slip by...

Luckily, entry into this luxury car club has never been easier, or cheaper. Here we look at how you can live the motoring high life for the price of a fortnight on the Costa Del Sol.

3rd: Jaguar XJ6.

Think motoring luxury and most will think of the Jag. Quintessentially British, it has been the favoured mode of transport of royalty and the rich and famous alike. To be honest, they aren't very reliable and when they go wrong, (which is a lot), they cost a small fortune to put right but none of that matters when you have something as beautiful as this on your drive. It's like a stately home on wheels. The interior is unbeaten in terms of quality and design, at any price level. Avoid the early V8 models as they can give problems. Electrics are also a notorious weak point so make sure as much of it works as possible. The dreaded rot can give you many a problem so have a good root around underneath to make sure it's sound.

If you manage to find a manual version, don't even think about it. For maximum silliness, hunt down a 5.3L V12 version or the even more opulent Daimler variation. If you go into Jag ownership with your eyes open to the running costs, there will be no finer way to spend £1000.

2nd: Mercedes S Class.

Touted by Mercedes as the best car in the world. They weren't far wrong either. Over engineered in every regard, this car was simply awesome. Even by today's standards, it has refinement and quality to shame most. They even fitted double glazed windows to some models! If your feeling sensible, go for the S320. Less so, then it has to be the bonkers S600 with its V12 monster under the engine. Electrics are starting to show their age now but generally speaking, they still make a reliable daily driver. Air suspension can be troublesome, so if it has that fitted, make sure it all works as it should.

1st: Lexus LS400

Whilst Mercedes told the world they had built the best car in the world, (see above), Lexus quietly went ahead and actually did it. The LS400 was a powerhouse of engineering brilliance and luxury motoring. It was the car that launched the brand for Toyota and it was so good, that it instantly built Lexus as the Oriental masters of high end motoring, something they are still regarded as today. The styling unashamedly mimicked its German rival which was no bad thing. Inside it was adorned with every conceivable gadget and gizmo. The best thing about the Lexus though is that being Japanese, if you buy one today, it will all still work exactly as it did 20 years ago. They really are that good. Your choice of engines is limited to just one. Luckily it is the sublime 4.0L V8 which paired to the fabulous auto 'box, gives a car that still drives as smooth as silk. Whilst the other two cars on this list are very, very good, if I had £1000 to spend, (or even £5K to be honest), and I had to buy a car to drive across Europe, it would be one of these. Whilst the Jag is the one you'd buy with your heart, the Lexus is what your head would choose.

One to avoid: Peugeot 607

To be honest, I've chosen the 607 but could just have easily picked the Citroen C6. Or the Renault Saffrane.

The French lead the world when it comes to many things. Wine for example. Or cheese. Or a militant attitude to industrial disputes. Luxury cars however, is not something they excel at.

It's not even that the cars themselves are that bad. Far from it. To combat the fact that the badge carries no weight at all in the golf club car park, French manufacturer's throw everything bar the kitchen sink at their luxury barges. From adaptive headlights to individually zoned air con, the only way you'll find a more advanced way to travel would be to hitch a ride on the USS Enterprise. But alas, here lies the problem. Luxury cars should feel like an occasion. An event to remember. Open the door of a Jag and you are greeted with the sort of interior that should adorn a 17th century manor house. The Lexus is so quiet and refined, you can hear your passenger's inner most thoughts. Get into a 607 though, and you're driving a similar car to the one that picked you up from the airport last week. A fully loaded car for £1000? Certainly. A luxury car? Certainly not.

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