IN THE vast world of cars, the so-called land yachts are regarded as passenger sedans that are huge and heavy, immensely powerful, ride wonderfully and offer mad lashings of luxury – sometimes with a price tag to match.
We’ve narrowed a list of the best down to a top five, each having their own strengths and weaknesses. However, at this level of luxury, the boundaries start to blur – is expense and therefore exclusivity better than a car with similar levels yacht-ness, but coming at a significantly lesser cost?
Not to spoil it, but there are no surprises as to the winner.
Quite simply, this list would be completely irrelevant if it had anything but a Rolls-Royce at the top of the tree.
Any of the four Rolls-Royce models in Australia could comfortably take out the land yacht of the year award, but it’s the eye-watering $1,075,000 Phantom-based Drophead soft-top that stands above the rest.
It’s the Wild Oats of the field, the yacht that over the past few years has been expected to win, and usually does.
The most expensive passenger car on the Australian market by more than $250,000, the Phantom is also one of the heaviest, clocking in at a peak kerb weight of 2630kg.
To put that into perspective, consider the fact it dwarfs even the 4x4 Land Rover Discovery, which weighs in at “just” 2558kg but doesn’t quite match up to a Nissan Y62 Patrol with all the bells and whistles (2829kg).
Parts of the car have been inspired by racing yachts, from the hand-finished wood panelling behind the rear seats to the refined canvas roof. Under the long bonnet is a 6.7-litre V12 that is a nod to the old 6 ¾-litre engine, producing 338kW and 720Nm.
Personalisation? Anything you want.
The most premium of the premium Bentleys, the Mulsanne is one of the few cars that hold a candle to Rolls-Royce.
Although the big Bentley is slightly shorter and narrower than the Phantom, it is comfortably heavier at a staggering 2711kg.
This is courtesy of a more powerful, 6.8 litre twin-turbo V8 capable of 395kW and 1100Nm under the bonnet of the Speed.
Priced from $733,387, the Mulsanne Speed is a cheaper alternative to the Roller, but hey, if you have that kind of money to spend, you might as well go for peak exclusivity and take the Phantom.
The Flying-B has in-car Wi-Fi, programmable personal settings for multiple users that remember different preferences for steering column adjustment, radio station, phonebook, and even in-seat massage mode selections!
Maybach is back, but this time it is more closely associated with its parent company, Mercedes-Benz.
The much closer association has brought down the price of owning a Maybach, but it still costs $448,325.
Every piece of high-tech wizardry you could want is fitted as standard to the Mercedes-Maybach: it even has reclining seats and folding tables in the back. Optional extras even include champagne flutes.
Beneath the bonnet is a 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12 good to haul the 2260kg Maybach to 100km/h in a spritely 5.0 seconds.
Its opulence has earned the big Merc a number of titles as the world’s best sedan, and with such a level of tech and refinement it isn’t hard to see why.
A Lexus being included among the best of the land yachts really shows how far Toyota’s luxury brand has come.
The LS range F-Sport (don’t be fooled, its 2230kg kerb mass means it can’t be all that sporty) is the only hybrid vehicle on this list. and kills its nearest rival, the BMW 7 Series, for tech.
Priced from $214,030, the V8 hybrid savours its fuel compared with the fossil fuel-burning Bentley, at just 8.6L/100km compared to 15.0L/100km.
Still, Lexus claim the car is the most powerful full hybrid sedan in the world, churning out 290kW and 520Nm.
Meantime, take a step further and the LS 600hL manages its exclusivity by being available by ‘special order’ only, and features a left rear Ottoman recliner with full massage function, along with infrared rear temperature detection. A new version of the LS is on the cards for a Detroit motor show reveal.
A comparative lightweight compared with the rest of the competition, the Commodore-based Holden Caprice continues to lead the charge in the everyman’s land yacht department.
It’s the good news underdog story that everyone wants to see pull though to win the Sydney to Hobart, even though deep inside we know it never will.
At $60,990, the Caprice sails in at less than an eighteenth of the price of a Drophead, but still performs well under such circumstances.
It has the ride and handling to rival Luxury BMWs, and the power to match. Having said this, the Caprice starting to look a bit aged on the outside after missing out on the updates extended to the VF Commodore with which it shares its development, especially in regard to the headlamps and tail-lights.
And by late 2017, it’s all over for the home-grown version of a luxury land yacht. Still, the Caprice is the world’s best-value limo, and for a limited time at least, a new one is worth every dollar.