Long-distance driving doesn’t have to be boring. We’ve picked out a few cars that can not only cover the miles in comfort, but have a little something else to make them stand out.
When picking out a long-distance cruiser that will mostly be used for covering long distances on motorways, there are a few things to think about.
Comfort is obviously the main priority. British motorways use both concrete and tarmac for surfaces, while there are also expansion joints on bridges that can interrupt the smooth progress sof a car. You should test drive your motorway car on a section of motorway before buying, to ensure that it can cope with all these.
Practicality is also important. If you’re travelling long distances, chances are you’ll need some luggage for overnight stays. Not all boots in large cars are large, so consider whether you can fit in all your cases, bags, golf clubs, or samples for work.
Finally, technology is increasingly important. If you’re covering long distances, you’ll want to make sure that there are options such as adaptive cruise control, and blind spot and dlane departure warnings. These driver assistance systems are fitted to do just that: assist the driver. They can be very useful in taking a lot of the strain of long-distance driving away, but you still have to stay alert and take a break regularly.
Best for comfort: Škoda Superb
Another brand that consistently makes impressive cars is Škoda. The Superb, for example, is a large car that offers practicality that is, well, superb. The rear legroom is unbeaten by any rival of a similar size. And if you choose an estate, you’ll also have a huge boot.
The Superb in incredibly comfortable, soaking up the worst that British roads can throw at it – broken surfaces, potholes, speed humps and motorway expansion joints are all overcome with ease. Everyone inside the car will feel relaxed and unruffled – which is just what you need on long journeys.
The cherry on top is that the Superb isn’t expensive. Prices start at £21K, although you’ll want to spend a few grand more to get some useful features, such as sat nav. Even then, it's still excellent value.
Best motorway car: Volvo XC90
Volvo makes the most comfortable cars. This is because it has nailed the art of making themost comfortable car seats. At the end of a long journey, your body feels as if it has just been sitting for a matter of minutes.
You could pick any medium or large Volvo as the best motorway car, but we’ll go for the XC90 large SUV, because of a high seating position that gives you a better view of the road ahead.
It is also fitted with all the latest in safety technology (Volvo continues to be the industry leader in this field). The XC90 is equipped with Pilot Assist, a semi-autonomous driving technology that keeps the car a safe distance from the one in front and in the middle of the lane. It’s a real help on long journeys, taking some of the strain off the driver.
Best executive car: BMW 5 Series
There’s a good reason why the BMW 5 Series continues to be lauded by critics and snapped up by executive buyers: it’s simply very, very good.
The 5 is big, but it has the agility we’ve come to expect from BMW cars. And it's great to drive. You feel fully engaged at all times, especially when you leave the motorway and head on to more challenging rural roads.
On the motorway it really feels at home, eating up the miles in complete comfort. It helps that the cabin is beautifully put together, with the best-quality materials and the latest tech, including satellite navigation with real-time traffic information that routes you around congestion hotspots.
Although it being a big car, it’s also surprisingly economical, with the 520d diesel version capable of over 60mpg.
It's not cheap (from £37K), but this is the most complete executive cruiser, so it's money well spent.
Best GT: Porsche Panamera
If you want to spend a bit more for a car with a seriously sporty pedigree, you’ll be wanting a Porsche Panamera.
The Panamera is a four-door saloon, but that's just half the story. It’s a Porsche, so it shares the engineering that has made the 911 thesports car to own. It’s fantastically rewarding car to drive. Sporty and quick, with V6 or V8 engines, it covers ground with serious pace. Motorway miles are dispatched with ease and, at the same time, its firm ride still manages to be comfortable.
Then there’s the cabin. This is a really special place to spend time, with all the latest tech and cossetting seats. Yes, it's expensive, but quality costs.
Best road trip car: Mercedes-Benz S-Class Convertible
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class Convertible is a car that majors in luxury and then throws in open-air driving thrills as a bonus. With a choice of V8 or V12 engines, the performance is fearsome for a car this big. But at the same time, you can drive it down a motorway at a steady pace and it's supremely quiet.
The boot isn’t massive, but it’s fine for a trip for two people. There are two rear seats that don’t offer enough legroom for adult passengers, but you can use them for extra storage.
The cabin is a joy to travel in, swathed in leather and wood. The seats are wonderfully supportive and comfortable, and they can even blow warm air on your neck when the roof’s down. Perfect for a long trip.
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