The best cars for limo drivers and â€˜selebâ€™ passengers
First thing to say is that motoring writers are about as far from being celebrities as itâ€™s possible to get. Every now and then however we are treated like selebs by the car manufacturers whose launches we graciously attend. Thereâ€™s nothing sinister about it: they’ve got the cars and we sometimes need a lift.
Like a couple of weeks ago, when a couple of our scribblers were scuppered at the end of the Paris motor show by a late-running Eurostar train. A crucial rail connection from London to the frozen North wasnâ€™t going to happen.
Luckily, a hero from Jaguar Land Roverâ€™s PR department managed to wangle a backup plan in the form of a long-wheelbase Jaguar XJ that would meet us at Waterloo and take our frazzled scribes on to their final destination.
As often happens in limo and taxi journeys, especially long ones, a conversation started up with the driver. Predictably, it was about cars. Weâ€™ve been shuttled about in XJs at various events in the past and it has to be said that theyâ€™re pretty swish, a nice mix of trad lux and cutting-edge design modern design. Best of all, the PR cars tend to have tinted rear windows so onlookers arenâ€™t disappointed when they see the undeserving and entirely unglamorous hack slumped in the back.
Our man at the wheel was on his third XJ and a fan of the big Jag. He rated the style and smoothness, though he reckoned that some of the other cars heâ€™d driven trumped it on rear space (even in LWB form).
He also liked the 7 Series BMWs his firm had used in the past, with the caveat that they seemed to be unusually vulnerable to wheel damage from London potholes. Our chaps agreed that the BMW was a good option, especially on the used market, but that it wasnâ€™t their primo choice for being driven about in.
The chauffeur pumped our chaps for info on the Lexus LS600. He liked its design, brand image and quality/reliability rep. He mentioned that luxury SUVs like Range Rovers were gaining popularity among wealthy driven clients, possibly explaining JLRâ€™s interest in expanding the luxury add-ons for the range-topping models, though he noted that all this extra luxury brings additional costs for operators as well as clients and that money isnâ€™t quite the inexhaustible resource we commoners like to think it is for the top one percenters.
The conversation then wandered around the other options in the market, from Audi A8s to blank-cheque choices between cars such as the Rolls-Royce Phantom or Bentley Mulsanne (he went for the Phantom, we took the Mulsanne).
Thing is though, the chat kept on returning to the same car: the Mercedes S-Class. The M-B range morphs around to fill market gaps or respond to fashion, but at the core the S-Class is and always has been the guvâ€™nor, a genuine icon that has always suited whatever era itâ€™s in. It always delivers folk to their destinations, red carpet or global summit, with a classless understatement that no other car seems to manage with quite the same authority. The S-Class isn’t just a Mercedes, it’s THE Mercedes.
The pro drivers weâ€™ve spoken to tend to agree. The competition will of course keep on trying to match it with huge investments in tech and materials but you suspect that even they know the S-Class will stay ahead of the pack. Always. Which must be both a challenge and a curse for the poor devils tasked with beating it.
If you had the opportunity to be driven everywhere, what car would you pick?