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The 5 top-rated premium car brands in the UK

Lavish interior luxuries and exceptional performance - we count down the best premium manufacturers selling their models in the UK.

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It seems that almost every manufacturer is pining for ‘premium’ perfection these days, aiming to release that one family-friendly model that scores so highly with the media and general public that it gives them the pedigree to bump up their prices. But which of these brands deserves to charge a premium?

It’s relatively easy for a brand to produce a high-performance model that has car journalists drooling, but those cars tend to serve as halo models that get headlines, while we’re interested in the real volume-selling models.

By consulting our industry-leading Expert Rating Index, we’ve ranked the best manufacturers with premium reputations by their overall Expert Rating, across all the family-oriented models in their range (saloons, hatchbacks, SUVs and so on) – deliberately ignoring sports cars and low-volume high-performance models (like BMW M or Mercedes-AMG models) that can skew the overall scores.

We’re also making an arbritary judgment on what counts as a ‘premium’ brand here. We’re looking at car companies that are selling in large volumes but are priced above the mainstream manufacturers. That means we’re not counting luxury brands like Rolls-Royce and Bentley, or niche supercar brands like Ferrari or McLaren.

With more than 8,700 different reviews from the UK motoring media powering our rankings, you can be confident that this is the definitive guide to the best premium car brands selling their models in the UK right now.

5th: Jaguar (73%)

Overall Expert Rating: 73%
Stand-out model: Jaguar I-Pace (85%)

Like most car companies, Jaguar has invested heavily into SUVs in recent years. The E-Pace, F-Pace and I-Pace models now comfortably outsell the traditional XE and XF saloons, while the flagship XJ saloon has been pensioned off altogether. The F-Type coupé and convertible are not counted towards Jaguar’s score here.

Jaguar’s current range of executive and family models is a small but solid line-up, but its the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace that is the pick of the bunch. It’s well-regarded among the media for its lavish interior, thrilling performance and excellent safety features.

Every car across the range has been praised for its driving dynamics, but whatever new Jaguar catches your eye, you may find that the prices are a bit higher than for rivals from the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Finance offers aren’t helped by residual values that are generally lower than the German rivals, leading to higher monthly payments.

There have also been doubts about the long-term reliability of Jaguar cars, while the infotainment systems installed by the British manufacturer have been well off the standards set by other premium brands. A new system called Pivi Pro has closed the gap in this regard, but it’s still not a match for the likes of BMW’s iDrive.

Jaguar Expert Ratings


Jaguar F-Pace

Jaguar F-Pace

Jaguar XF

Jaguar XF

Jaguar XE

Jaguar XE

Jaguar E-Pace

Jaguar E-Pace

Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar I-Pace

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4th: BMW (74%)

Overall Expert Rating: 74%
Stand-out model: BMW 5 Series (87%)

BMW is a global brand with considerable pedigree, particularly notable for its very wide selection of impressive high-end models at attractive prices. Labelled the fourth best premium brand by our Expert Rating Index, BMW has been ranked higher than its key competitors Audi and Mercedes-Benz, who both failed to make the top five.

Although the BMW 3 Series deserves a lot of praise, it is the BMW 5 Series that is the most beloved by the UK media. It has received more than 25 industry awards since its launch in 2017, thanks to its cars almost always offering a superior driving experience, as well as plenty of refinement and high build quality.

The only universal criticism that BMW regularly receives is that many of its optional extras are often standard features on other, cheaper brands. Oh, plus the styling of most models is most politely described as “polarising”.

BMW Expert Ratings


BMW X6

BMW X6

BMW X4

BMW X4

BMW X3

BMW X3

BMW X2 (2018 to 2023)

BMW X2 (2018 to 2023)

BMW iX3

BMW iX3

BMW i3 (2013 to 2022)

BMW i3 (2013 to 2022)

BMW 7 Series (2015 to 2022)

BMW 7 Series (2015 to 2022)

BMW 5 Series (2017 to 2023)

BMW 5 Series (2017 to 2023)

BMW 3 Series

BMW 3 Series

BMW 1 Series

BMW 1 Series

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3rd: Land Rover (76%)

Overall Expert Rating: 76%

Stand-out model: Land Rover Defender (85%)

The second entrant in these rankings from the Jaguar Land Rover family, Land Rover is a prestigious brand that many British motoring journalists look upon with fondness and a patriotic lens. This is likely why Land Rover is placed 3rd in this list, its Overall Expert Rating just inching ahead of BMW.

The Land Rover range comes highly recommended by the UK media for its impressive off-roading talent, as well as its lavish interior trims, every-day practical features, and quality infotainment. Reviewers also expect that the Land Rover range will be slower to depreciate in value than other competitors in the premium SUV classes.

However, much like Jaguar, the motoring media collectively shares concerns about the long-term reliability of Land Rover models, which are rather notorious for developing faults, and point out that Land Rover SUVs are not the economical choice for those looking to count their miles per gallon.

With these drawbacks, some reviewers struggle to find justification for Land Rover’s comparatively high pricing, when there are more reliable and economical high-end SUV options available for less.

Land Rover Expert Ratings


Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Defender

Range Rover Sport (2013 to 2022)

Range Rover Sport (2013 to 2022)

Range Rover Velar

Range Rover Velar

Land Rover Discovery

Land Rover Discovery

Range Rover (2013 to 2021)

Range Rover (2013 to 2021)

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Range Rover Evoque

Range Rover Evoque

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2nd: Porsche (77%)

Overall Expert Rating: 77%

Stand-out model: Porsche Taycan (88%)

Renowned for scintillating performance and fantastic engine quality, Porsche has successfully managed to take the thrilling driving dynamics and sleek and sporty interior of its 911 sports car, and tweak that formula for the premium family car market.

Porsche’s family-orientated options only consist of two SUVs and two large saloons; the exceptionally fun driving experience and surprising practicality being the key positives for buyers interested in this range.

Launched in 2019, the Porsche Taycan is the choice of our Expert Rating Index, which offers the perfect balance between the practical sensibilities of a family saloon and the blistering pace and performance of a hypercar.

Much like BMW, the major criticism that frequently crops up in Porsche reviews is the expensive price of optional extras, which should really be available as standard.

Porsche Expert Ratings


Porsche Taycan

Porsche Taycan

Porsche Panamera

Porsche Panamera

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Macan

Porsche Macan

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1st: Tesla (79%)

Overall Expert Rating: 79%

Stand-out model: Tesla Model 3 (83%)

Bringing our rankings to a close, our Expert Ratings index has decided that Tesla is on top when it comes to choosing a premium brand for your next family car. With only three models in the Tesla line-up, there really isn’t too much choice, but all three have proved popular with both critics and the buying public.

In fact, the Tesla Model 3, praised for its fantastic performance, driving dynamics and minimalist style, regularly pops up in the UK’s top ten sellers list, including recently taking the top spot as the country’s best-selling car in the UK in September 2021.

Tesla has been universally admired for the exterior styling of its models and its practical tech features, but reviewers are quick to criticise the quality of interior materials and overall build quality, as well as ergonomic issues caused by concentrating almost all the car’s controls into a single touchscreen.

Tesla Expert Ratings


Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

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For the definitive rankings of the top five premium brands, we’ve used The Car Expert’s industry-leading Expert Rating index.

The index analyses new car reviews from 25 of the top UK motoring websites, using an advanced algorithm that we have developed specifically to compare review scores. It constantly recalculates and updates the Expert Rating score for every single car in real time to make sure you’re getting the most accurate and reliable ratings for every new car.

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Sean Rees
Sean Rees
Sean is the Deputy Editor at The Car Expert. A enthusiastic fan of motorsport and all things automotive, he is accredited by the Professional Publishers Association, and is now focused on helping those in car-buying need with independent and impartial advice.