How to spend $100,000 on a new car and drive off with some cash still in your pocket.
Consider the idea, for a moment, that you've just come into a large inheritance, have won the lottery, or have struck the biggest deal of your career. You're now in a financial bracket where you can spend up to $100,000 on a car pretty comfortably and want the best possible piece of machinery for your money. If $100k is your target, you'll likely not be spending less than $80k, but at that price, whether it's fast, luxurious, or both, it has to be a complete package to justify the expense. It has to have styling that makes you glance over your shoulder every time you walk away from it and deliver an exceptional experience every time you drive it. If you get to leave the dealership happy with your new wheels and some leftover cash, well, that's even better. For those on the wealthier end of the buyer's guide spectrum, these are the cars you should be looking at.
The Lexus LC could easily be written off as a car that looks better than it performs by the uninitiated. However, we've lived with both the coupe and the convertible recently and fallen head over heels with both. For those looking for razor-sharp handling and a zero to 60 mph time that will leave everything in the dust, there are other cars for you on this list. But, if you want a car that turns heads like nothing else, has a thriller of a hand-built 5.0-liter V8 under the hood, looks good around town, but also carves canyon roads with style and ease, you need an LC in your life.
The 471 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque are delivered to the tune of one of the best exhaust notes on the market, and the interior is a svelte luxury. It's the perfect car, whether its for impressing a first date, taking a partner on a long weekend road trip, or getting out for a blast on the back roads.
There's a recipe for the perfect hardcore driver's BMW. It has a powerful straight-six engine at the front, a manual transmission in the middle, the drive going to the rear wheels, and it should be as lightweight as possible. The BMW M2 CS fits the bill perfectly, and its re-tuned 3.0-liter twin-turbo delivers 444 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque to exactly the right place. There's carbon fiber all over the car, the wheels are lightweight items, M Adaptive suspension is included, and with the manual transmission configured, It weighs 3,583 lbs. With the spare change from your $100,000, you could drop the weight even further with a set of optional carbon-ceramic brakes. We would do that to offset choosing the super fast and responsive double-clutch automatic transmission. Can you say, "track weapon"?
Mercedes makes some of the finest and smoothest cars on the road. AMG then takes them and adds a sense of brutality, except in the case of the AMG GT four-door, which is a bonafide Affalterbach product. The GT 53 brings svelte lines, an old school luxurious interior, and four-door practicality to the table along with 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. It's also a mild hybrid, and the EQ Boost system adds up to 21 hp and 184 lb-ft at lower engine speeds. Mercedes has finally returned to the smooth power of an inline-six for the engine, and AMG has made sure it's sharp where it needs to be. The final product is luxurious, smooth, fast, and an absolute joy for driver and passengers alike. You won't be able to go wild with the options here, but even in base form, it's something special.
If you want as much style and substance for your $100,000, look no further than BMW's flagship model. Under the hood is BMW's future-classic twin-turbo 3.0-liter straight-six making 335-horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque, and it's backed up by one of the best transmissions in the world. In comfort mode, it's sublimely smooth, but switch into sport mode, and everything comes alive to remind you why people buy BMWs. The 8 Series blends the grand tourer and back-road barnstormer concepts into one slick head-turning package. The 8 Series is also one of the cars we heartily recommend as a convertible, but then you'll only get about $3,000 change from your $100,000.
Over the years, the CT6 V-Sport has quietly gone from strength to strength and become the CT6-V. It's a pricey option for a car whose aim is to give BMW a bloody nose, but we think the CT6-V in its final year is well worth a look. We suspect in four or five years, car culture will be mourning the loss of the Cadillac performance limo, and for a good reason. While the build quality may not be BMW standard, Cadillac's luxury bruiser packs a 4.2-liter twin-turbo V8 under the hood. It delivers a thrilling 550 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque that gives a healthy shove in any gear. It's hand-built in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and it's as delicious as a cigar that was hand-rolled on the thigh of a virgin. In terms of dynamics, it rivals BMW in its level of available grip and sublime dynamics.
If you want your $100,000 to provide you with nothing but comfort and convenience on four wheels out of the box, you're going straight to a Mercedes dealership and ordering a base S-Class. Under the hood is a bi-turbo V6 developing 362 hp, but the available S560 gets you a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine making 463 hp and 516 lb-ft of elegantly smooth torque at just 2,300 rpm. Inside, you're getting a complete package that includes leather everything, the latest and greatest in technology, and the kind of on-the-move seating comfort usually reserved for private jets. Except, private jets don't often have massaging seats as standard equipment.
For most hardcore driving enthusiasts, this list could have started and ended with the Porsche 911. More jaded enthusiasts will call on the idea that every 911 looks like the last one, but nobody can deny the reality: The Porsche 911 is the most significant enthusiast's sports car in the world. The styling and immaculately constructed interior blend the classic and the modern, and the level of detail in engineering throughout the car is enough to make aspiring designers weep and give up college. On the road, the grip and handling flatters the inexperience and does nothing but reward old hands behind the wheel. Of course, some will complain about the lack of a manual transmission on base models, but that's getting tiresome. They may as well complain that it takes a button press to start the car instead of inserting and turning a key.
If you want a crossover with the punch and edge of a sports car, Alfa Romeo has one hell of an option for you. First, a Ferrari derived twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 delivers the one-two punch of 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque to the wheels. Then the beautifully balanced chassis and agile adaptive suspension give the Stelvio Quadrifoglio an edge capable of slicing through corners with hair raising pace. Hit the brakes, and the Brembo-based brake system will strain your eyeballs. It's a masterclass in speed and dynamics, and at $80,000, it leaves you with plenty of rental car money for when it inevitably ends up at the dealer when something goes wrong.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk combines aggressive looks with pleasant road manners with a snarling 707-hp Hellcat V8 under the hood. Subtle and sophisticated, it is not. However, it's an incredibly fast and fun family hauler. The 6.2-liter supercharged V8, pumping out 707 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque, will shame many sports cars from the lights. The inside looks like a sports car, but the Trackhawk doesn't fully live up to its name. If you view it as a cartoonishly fun SUV, the grins will only ever fade at the gas pump, and that's only until you pull away again.
Your $100,000 might not quite get you the ultimate in off-road luxury, but it'll get you close enough that you won't complain. You'll have a range of engines to choose from within budget, but that doesn't include the supercharged V8. However, they're all excellent performers providing smooth and adequate power. Day-to-day, you have a luxury vehicle that outshines its rivals in practicality. The interior comes meticulously crafted and with leather upholstery and features tri-zone climate control as standard. It's also a smooth ride on the road and exudes elegance and class. But, at the weekend it's one of the best off-roaders money can buy.
We couldn't end this list without a fast wagon, and the Panamera Sport Turismo fits the bill perfectly. Unless you go over budget, and walking into a Porsche dealer makes that likely, you're getting the 3.0-liter turbo V6 under the hood. The other's might be faster, but the base engine still emits a satisfying 330 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque and will propel the heavy wagon to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. It weighs in at 4,348 lbs but, because it's a Porsche, it's composed, supple, and agile when pushed. The Panamera Sport Turismo also has a startling level of grip and head-turning looks. Unlike the 911, the rear seats are useable for a couple of adults and a small child in the middle seat.