Features/ Blogs/ Decadence On Wheels | Full-Size Luxury Sedan Segment

Decadence On Wheels | Full-Size Luxury Sedan Segment

POV: You’re in the market for a full-sized luxury sedan. Now there’s a limited number of options in the Indian market. These are: 

  • Lexus LS
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class
  • BMW 7-Series
  • Audi A8L
  • BMW i7
  • Mercedes-Benz EQS 580

So let’s evaluate our options. I have set 5 main parameters where a car of this stature must excel:

  1. Brand Value
  2. Exteriors
  3. Interiors & Comfort
  4. Tech
  5. Price & Cost of Ownership

First off, there’s the discussion of Electric Vs Fossil Fuel. And anyone who’s read my articles knows how much I oppose EVs, but that’s in a different case. In this case, the cars are going to be chauffer driven with the business execs sat in the back seat. And let’s agree, the hushed demeanour of EVs will indubitably heighten the opulence & grandeur of these vehicles.

Now comes the issue of range and battery, I reckon anyone who’ll use this car as their quotidian “board-room” commute will have no range issues. But there will be issues if you want to travel distances over 500kms non-stop. Because, even though India's charging network continues to grow, the affluent strata of society cannot be expected to fritter away their time loitering while their car juices up. Time is of greater essence than money in this segment. Conversely, if these individuals do value their time above all else, then travelling 500km non-stop remains an impractical proposition since they would almost certainly opt for air travel.

Both BMW & Mercedes have tons of marketing mumbo jumbo about their EV options and their “superior” charging capabilities. Which to be frank is quite impressive! The i7 for example can juice up a 100km range in just 6 minutes on a 350kWh charger or 21 minutes on a 50kWh charger.

As for anything else in the EV vs Fossil Fuel debate, it’s quite an even stepping, the batteries and motors from the companies are heavily warrantied so no issues there.

 
1. Brand Value:

Like it or not, the harsh truth is that many people buy these car’s for their exclusivity and brand value as opposed to their luxury. So the brand value and “respect” is a big parameter before anyone cuts that seven figure cheque. The brand value is a hands down win for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. I will not even debate it because the S-Class has a separate level of respect, at least in India. The 7-Series closely follows up after S, with the LS in tow for the third place. Let’s agree that the A8L is not so strong on brand-value anymore!

 
2. Exterior Looks:

When you buy a car of this stature, your arrival is an event! And that’s partly because of the vehicle you arrive in. Hence, the exterior looks and dominance of the car are of great importance. I’ll give this win to the Lexus LS. Because let’s agree, Lexus knows how to make beautiful cars like the back of its hand. The LS is just plain perfection. Bellissima! As for others, I’d put the 7 & i7 up next with the A8L after the beemers. Not sure what the designers at Daimler were thinking but full-size luxury car buyers do not want their car looking like eggs or as if they are melting away in the sun!

 
3. Interiors & Comfort:

Well, I don’t need to explain why this parameter is important do I? The interior design is a head to head battle between the beemers and the Lexus. Both are extremely beautiful interiors but, the BMWs just nick the Lexus through their Swarovski crystal garnish inside the cabin. Also, after all these years, the LS’ cabin is starting to show its dire need for a refresh. The S Class  and A8L follow after that. Leaving the EQS, which honestly seems like an excuse for a full-size luxury sedan competitor. As for comfort, the S Class’s countless sensors and wizardry work their magic to promise a truly comfortable experience, on paper at least! The i7 & 7 follow suit.

 
4. Tech:

Ah! Tech! The true battlefront in the automotive industry. Being the newer entrant the 7 & i7 just about nick this battle away from the jaws of the S Class. The EQS comes in at fourth with its hyper screen and other whatnot! This is the only place where I’d put the LS in the end! The beemers literally have a 32 inch TV screen in the back, can’t beat that Mercedes. That is just the cherry on top of the mountain of tech that they have named the 7. The doors are power operated, one push of a button and they’ll swivel open for you, the armrests have integrated screens in them. I could go on and on but you get the point.

 
5. Price & Cost of Ownership:

These cars are in a very wide range of pricing, with the price gap reaching INR 1.2 Crores between the least priced and most expensive options. So the pricing goes something like this:

 

Car
Price Range

Lexus LS

INR 1.95-2.27 Crores

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

INR 1.71-2.17 Crores

BMW 7-Series

INR 1.7 Crores

Audi A8L

INR 1.34-1.64 Crores

BMW i7

INR 1.95-2.53 Crores

Mercedes-Benz EQS 580

INR 1.59 Crores 

 

As for cost of ownership, the EVs have got the ICEs beat at all fronts. The cost of maintenance as well as running will be staggeringly low compared to their ICE rivals. Not like it will be a big deciding factor for a buyer! Expect the EVs to save you up to 2 Lakhs per annum on maintenance & fuel costs. Do note that the EVs do not have any road tax applicable on them in many Indian states due to the states’ EV policy, giving the i7 a big advantage in the on-road price bracket.

So, to conclude, my pick in the segment is clear, it will be either of the beemers. And I might just lean towards the i7 because of its greener footprint, quieter cabin, sharper acceleration, dual-tone paint job option and lower cost of ownership.

Words: Sresht Garg

TopGear Magazine May 2024