Brexit hasn’t stopped overseas demand for luxury British cars – these are the new models that caught our attention this year
The UK’s luxury car-makers have had a busy year. The latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders shows the strength of the market in 2022 – with luxury exports holding their own against Brexit headwinds.
In the first 10 months of the year, British brands put the finishing touches on 25,574 luxury models – a 6.1 per cent increase on last year. The vast majority of these will head overseas, with exports accounting for 89.2 per cent of production in 2022 (compared to 91 per cent last year).
‘The UK is home to an unrivalled stable of high luxury and performance automotive brands,’ says Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive. ‘Their unique qualities, be that performance, luxury, refinement, engineering excellence, ensure they are coveted the world over.’
As for the models that caught Spear’s attention in 2022, they are:
Rolls Royce Ghost Black Badge
Two years after it first arrived on the scene, the Rolls Royce Ghost gets the subversive Black Badge treatment with its 2022 release. The distinctive label has become Rolls Royce’s alter ego – as the establishment brand receives a subversive sportscar makeover.
True to form, the Ghost Black Badge gets an engine upgrade to complete the bad boy image. An extra 29 hp takes the overall capacity to 592 hp, while the torque gets a 37 lb ft boost. Additional muscle aside, though, the real focus is on delivering the supreme driving experience, with a seamless transition from off-throttle to pedal down.
This is matched by a commitment to exquisite comfort, with nuanced details designed to flatter every sensation. Spear’s reviewer Mark Walton was particularly taken by the carpets. ‘The thickest you will ever find an automobile,’ he wrote. ‘It’s like petting a freshly shampooed llama.’
With the creation of the GT, McLaren set out to raise the standard for grand touring: delivering a performance vehicle that maximises both driver enjoyment and passenger comfort.
Following its sportscar heritage, the most recent iteration of the GT comes fitted with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V-8 engine, capable of going from zero-to-60 in 3.1 seconds. Meanwhile a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission system gives extra power to the rear wheels.
Blazing acceleration aside, the GT’s real selling point is its expansive seats and best-in-class luggage space – being the first McLaren that can easily accommodate a golf bag or two sets of skis. These features place it firmly in the continental category – and a worthy rival to long-haul legends like the DB11.
Aston Martin DBR22
If you’re seeing signs of the DBR1 or DB3s in Aston Model’s latest model, it’s no coincidence. This year’s new release, the DBR22, was designed to pay tribute to the iconic models of the 1950s.
Not that the DBR22 is a mere slave to tradition. A new front grille constructed from ultra-lightweight carbon fibre eschews the veins of previous models – giving it a provocative new look. Another sleek addition is the distinctive horseshoe vent in the bonnet, intended to help cool the engine.
Speaking of the engine, the DBR22 packs a 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12, boasting an impressive 705 bhp and 555 lb ft of torque. Meanwhile 21-inch wheels with a showy centre-lock hub and a low-line windscreen complete that seductively sporty profile.
Range Rover L460
Why fix what isn’t broken? Indeed on first inspection you may struggle to see what’s changed with the 2022 iteration of the Range Rover L460. At least on the surface.
Beneath the skin, however, is a different matter. Indeed the L460 is kitted out with an entirely new platform showcasing the cutting edge of both hardware and software. Standout features include an electric anti-roll control system, exceptional rear-wheel steering and new five-link rear suspension.
Superior performance acknowledged, the L460 still represents an evolution rather than a revolution of the Range Rover concept. Though the plug-in hybrid option (promising zero emissions driving for up to 70 miles) gives a tantalising foretaste of what’s next: the electric Range Rover due in two years’ time.
McLaren 720S Spider
Some five years after its premiere, the McLaren 720S continues to set a new standard for the supercar. The resulting model has delighted aficionados and new converts alike and this year’s edition is no exception.
As with its immediate predecessors, the 720S Spider boasts a 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 mid-engine, capable of producing some 170 hp – taking the driver from zero to 62 mph in less than three seconds. Its maximum speed is a face-melting 211 mph.
While the new Spider has made some iterations (including alterations to the hinges and sealing to provide a fully frameless glass door) what stands out is the durability of its original design. Not least the stellar combination of electro-hydraulic power steering and Active Dynamics which allow the driver to sharpen responses with the flick of a dial.