Eight of the best luxury cars under $100k

So you're on a tightish budget. Or maybe just don't see the sense in dropping several hundred grand on a depreciating asset.

Sure, you could go out and buy a budget hatchback to get you from A to B but it won't cut much muster in the executive parking lot. Plus, we're not ashamed to admit that the right badge makes you feel just that little bit more successful.

Fortunately, these are the halcyon days when it comes to affordable luxury vehicles. With ridiculously low import tariffs, and manufacturer's profit margins slimmer than ever, there's never been a better time in history to get behind the wheel of a prestige car.

Hence, the brief: find the top eight prestige vehicles available in Australia for under $100,000*. The criteria were simple: the car had to be luxurious, have parking lot credibility, and look a lot more expensive than it actually costs.

Top speed and acceleration wasn't nearly as important as sheer comfort and pose value. Midlife crisis vehicles were not considered.

Mercedes Benz C300 Coupe

With technology and a design language that has actually trickled up to the uber-expensive S Class, this could be the best value luxury car in the world right now. How's this for standard kit?

A full leather interior with black ash open-pore wood on the centre console, a concert quality 13-speaker Burmester sound system, mood lighting, tinted windows, full keyless entry, 19 inch rims and a twin sports exhaust. Safety features include active steering and cruise control, plus a 360-degree camera.

Powered by a 2-litre twin turbo good for 180 kilowatts, the svelte two-door looks a million bucks, but it can be yours for $83,355.

BMW 440i Gran Coupe

You want to talk about cars that appear more expensive than they actually are, then look no further than BMW's 440i Gran Coupe. And it has plenty of substance to match its style.

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Like the fabulous 240kW B58 Twinpower 3.0 straight six coupled to an eight-speed gear box, good to propel you from zero to 100km/h in just 5.1 seconds.

And the M Sport package thrown in at no extra cost, along with variable-rate steering, heated leather seats, Harman/Kardon surround sound system with 16 speakers, adaptive LED headlights, Parking Assistant, and Active Cruise Control.

BMW slashed $10,000 off the price to bring it in at a budget beating $99,855.

Audi A4 2.0 TFSI Quattro Sport

Audi call their new A4 a quantum leap in technology and that's not hubris. Safety equipment includes three types of autonomous braking, as well as 'Exit Warning' which scans the road or footpath to warn of approaching traffic including cyclists to reduce 'dooring' incidents.

With 185kW on tap, the all-wheel drive system launches the Audi from 0-100km/hr in 5.8 seconds. Being an Audi, the interior is a relaxing place to be, with electric leather seats, ambient lighting, a 10-speaker sound system and digital radio.

The exterior design is sleek and minimalist, so it should hold up well over time. It looks a hell of a lot more expensive than the $69,900 asking price.

Tesla Model S60

If you're an executive trying to show you have eco-credentials that would put Richard Di Natale to shame, the entry model Tesla should be on your shopping list. Design-wise it looks pretty much the same as the more-than-twice-as-expensive S P90D, plus you'll never need to visit a service station again.

The 60kWh battery has a range of 400kms, plenty to get you from the Greenpeace protest march, to the boardroom, but perhaps not to the south coast holiday house. It produces 235kW and can sprint silently from 0-100km/h in 5.8 seconds.

Apart from battling climate change, the Tesla has one of the sleekest, streamlined designs of any car on the road. Yours for a planet-saving $100,800.

Volvo S60 Pole Star

Okay, we said that speed wasn't terribly important for our criteria, but it's nice when your car combines both speed and luxury without ever venturing into boy-racer territory. The S 60 Polestar is the most rapid road-going Volvo in history, but it manages it in typically Swedish understated style (although apparently it's built in Belgium).

The go-fast Volvo is powered by a 270kW (470Nm) supercharged, turbo-charged 2.0-litre four, driven through an eight-speed transmission to take you from 0-100km/hr in around 4.5 seconds, all the way to a limited 250 km/hr.

Volvo hasn't spared on the creature comforts either, providing Nubuck leather race seats and steering wheel, plus a premium sound system forĀ $99,950.

Lexus GS 200t F Sport

The Japanese really take it up to the Germans when it comes to value for money. And there's little doubt the Lexus badge now commands respect for status and reliability. Which is why we think the GS 200t F Sport is such a clever decision.

The $84,380 gets you a full-leather interior including F Sport front seats, premium sound system, Naguri style aluminium trim, electric rear sun shade, high grade LED headlamps, 19 inch rims and a Lexus Safety System (includes Pre-Collision Safety System (PCS), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Automatic High Beam (AHB) and All-Speed Active Cruise Control).

The Lexus is powered by a 180kW, 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to eight-speed automatic transmission.

Range Rover Evoque TD4 HSE

While the smart little Rangie is never going to compete with its larger siblings for status, at $73,495 it's also about half the price.

We included the Evoque in our list because it still has the iconic Range Rover badge, the design remains fresh after five years, and because it's so bloody comfortable up front. You get Oxford perforated electric leather seats, a Meridian sound system, head up display, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen display.

Propelled by a new 2.0 litre, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel, the Evoque is no tarmac shredder, but still plenty quick enough to get you a ticket.

Jaguar XF

Traditionalists who prefer English breakfast tea over espresso, might want to check out the Jaguar XF for something different. The design looks classy as, and its interior is plush, light and airy, especially if you tick the box for cream leather trim.

With an 11-speaker Meridian sound system that will put even the Germans to shame, the Jag manages to wring 132kW from its torquey (430Nm @ 1750 to 2500rpm) 4-cylinder. But it's the super direct steering that really sets the big cat apart. Find a windy mountain road, whack some Brit Pop on the stereo and just drive. $82,800.

*All prices exclude on-road costs

Check out our gallery above and see if we got it right, then let us know in the Comments section.

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