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Best luxury cars of 2015


It's taken the best part of a decade for the Mercedes-Benz GLC to reach Australia. It has been worth the wait.

Just as the all-new C-Class sedan rewrote the rules for compact luxury cars in 2014, the GLC has changed the game in affordable luxury SUVs.

The GLC outsold its direct rivals, Audi's Q5 and the BMW X3, in its first month in Australia.

That performance hints strongly that it could eventually become the best-selling Mercedes.

By any measure, and even up against such impressive newcomers as the BMW 7 Series and Jaguar XE, Audi Q7 and born-again Maybach, the GLC is the standout luxury-class arrival this year. That makes it the CarsGuide Prestige Car of the Year for 2015.

Here's what we like about it and other category winners.

We even have one below the luxury car tax (LCT) threshold, which is $63,184.

Sedan under LCT

Jaguar XE - from $60,400

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  • 2015 Jaguar XE 2015 Jaguar XE

You can get a lot of car for less than $64K, as big-name brands tempt new customers. The best arrival of the year is the impressively sporty Jaguar XE, the model the British brand has always needed to satisfy existing fans and make new ones. It looks good, drives well with the base 2.0-litre petrol engine and is well priced.

The XE is very short of rear-seat space, which makes it a borderline choice for families, and it still falls short of the C-Class in a head-to-head comparison.

Sedan over LCT

BMW 7 Series - from $217,500

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  • 2015 BMW 7 Series 2015 BMW 7 Series

Here's proof that a full-size luxury car can be enjoyable to drive and surprisingly sporty.

Taking its focus off the rear seat and challenging the Mercedes S-Class, BMW jumped back into the driving seat for 2015 with a car that looks elegant and has a modern luxury cockpit with abundant technology, yet encourages you to take the long way home.

Just so this isn't a complete adoration job, it must be said it's a pity that the "gesture control" is as underdone as the brand's original iDrive.

We also enjoyed the S-Class Maybach, one of the world's great cars, despite the $449,000 price tag that's still huge but less than half of the failed stand-alone Maybach.

The new model took only two months to top the five-year sales tally of the $1 million-plus predecessor.

Fans of homegrown heroes made the HSV GTS a sellout success, despite the thirst and $98,490 sticker.

SUV

Mercedes-Benz GLC - from $67,900

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The GLC is something special, more like a car to drive and with the sort of cabin quality and technology we've come to expect from the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz models.

It's a plush puppy with real family space for five that's going to be a huge hit on the school run (mostly private schools though). Among full-sized SUVs, the completely new Audi Q7 is the new benchmark.

It's priced from $103,900 after a total revamp and adds refinement from the VW Group's MLB platform that will underpin the Bentley Bentayga in 2016.

Sports cars under $100,000

Audi RS3 - from $78,900

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  • 2015 Audi RS3 2015 Audi RS3

The Morgan three-wheeler is crazy fun, the Alfa 4C is completely underdone, there are some tasty new BMWs — but Audi has the two strongest contenders if you're not just buying a Mustang. The TT is the looker among Audi's affordable sporties but the pocket rocket RS3 gets the job done. It's a cracking drive that even edges out the updated Mercedes A45 AMG, thanks to quicker sprinting and better ride away from a racetrack. Stack on the options and the price will nudge $100,000.

Sports cars over $100,000

Porsche Cayman GT4 - from $189,900

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  • 2015 Porsche Cayman GT4 2015 Porsche Cayman GT4
  • 2015 Porsche Cayman GT4 2015 Porsche Cayman GT4
  • 2015 Porsche Cayman GT4 2015 Porsche Cayman GT4

When you're talking sports car it's impossible to go past a Porsche and the Cayman GT4 is a landmark car. It's a brilliant drive, with phenomenal grip and composure that makes it far less threatening than a 911. It's also a value pick — cars with similar performance cost more than twice as much. There are honourable mentions. The brilliant new Ferrari 488 is half a million-plus with options. Audi landed its completely new R8 from $279,110 earlier in the year, the Lamborghini Huracan turns heads from $428,000 and the Mercedes-AMG GT challenges the Porsche 911 from $294,610. You can go fast and have fun for far less money, as in the practical new Mercedes C63 AMG S from $154,510.

Which luxury car is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.

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