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Plush performance

Opulent comfort and ballistic performance rolled into one package? These super-limos prove luxury needn't come at the cost of thrills.

The BMW M760Li (above) shares its 6.6-litre engine with models from the pinnacle of luxury car brands, Rolls-Royce.

One version of the Mercedes-AMG S 63 (above) can reach 100km/h in 3.5 seconds.

EXOTIC supercars such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis, with their slinky looks and extreme performance, are generally regarded as the most desirable and awe-inspiring vehicles on the road.

But their low-slung sporty nature can make them impractical to drive in a place as small and congested as Singapore, and with so many traffic lights and the low speed limits here, wouldn't you be wasting your money on something whose whole existence revolves around going fast?

Yet, for a similar amount of money you could pick up the flagship versions of various luxury limousines, and depending on your choice, could even have some change left over for a blowout holiday.

For example, one of the cheapest cars featured here is BMW's M760Li, at S$687,800 with Certificate Of Entitlement (COE).

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That's significantly cheaper than the S$808,300 (inclusive of COE) it costs to buy a bona-fide supercar, such as the Audi R8 Coupe.

The big BMW is practically a speedy machine with a 0 to 100km/h time of just 3.6 seconds - that's in spite of its having a roomy, luxuriously-appointed interior that comes with practically every convenience available in the world of cars.

The luxo-barges featured here all have advanced, high-powered engines that give them supercar-baiting performance, yet their relatively tame looks allow you to slip under the radar of speed camera-wielding policemen and digital camera-wielding car spotters, all the while insulating you from the hubbub and chaos of the outside world.

Why go through the hassle of choosing between cocooning luxury and high-octane thrills, when you could have both in one package?

Alpina B7
From S$730,000 with COE, available now

You could be forgiven if you've never heard of Alpina, as the brand only debuted here in 2013. You could also be forgiven for not noticing its cars on the street or mistaking them for regular BMWs. That's because Alpinas are in fact based on BMW models and built on the same assembly lines, but feature enough changes to their mechanical specification that Alpina is classified as a separate manufacturer.

The B7 is based on BMW's 7 Series, and is powered by a 4.4-litre twin turbo V8 puts out 608 horsepower (hp) and 800 Newton-metres (Nm) of peak torque - that makes it roughly five times as powerful as a compact family saloon.

A bespoke, handcrafted interior, individually numbered production plaque and signature 20-spoke rims also set the Alpina apart from a normal 7 Series, but one thing makes it extra special: it has a top speed of 330km/h, which makes it fast enough to cling to the rear of many a Ferrari.

BMW M760Li xDrive
From S$687,800 with COE, available now

The BMW M760Li operates somewhat in a class of its own here. Not only is it the most affordable V12-engined car available in Singapore, it shares its 6.6-litre engine with models from the pinnacle of luxury car brands, Rolls-Royce.

Although a V12 is characterised as the smoothest of all engine configurations, don't take that to mean the M760Li can't get up and dance. All-wheel drive means you never need to worry that its 610hp engine will send you fishtailing down the road, while four-wheel steering endows the car with the agility of a much smaller sports car.

Mercedes-AMG S 63
Price On Application (POA), available 2018

The Mercedes S-Class has long been the luxury car to aspire to, favoured by towkays and business leaders here and around the world. Year 2018 will see the entire range receive a mid-life facelift, with the S 63 AMG being the most exciting model.

At 612hp, its new 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 puts out 27hp more than the outgoing engine, but thanks to cylinder deactivation technology and a nine-speed gearbox, it consumes no more fuel than before.

The S 63 also features a suite of advanced driver aids, such as cruise control that can adjust the car's speed according to the situation (such as when it's entering a curve or traffic junction), or boost assistance to the steering and brakes if it senses you need to take sudden evasive action.

One version of the S 63 can reach 100km/h in 3.5 seconds, which means this isn't just one of the most luxurious cars built by Mercedes, but also one of the very fastest.

Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive
From S$883,988 without COE, available now

The car with the longest name here is also the fastest-accelerating and the most powerful. Its twin-turbo V8 engine is augmented by an electric motor to give a total of 680hp, and will trounce the company's own 911 Carrera sports car in a drag race - standstill to 100km/h takes just 3.4 seconds.

Being an E-hybrid also means it can glide along for up to 50km on silent electric power alone.

As an Executive model, its wheelbase is 150mm longer than that of the standard Panamera sports saloon, which means 15cm more legroom for passengers.

Together with features such as a standard panoramic sunroof, and a Rear Seat Entertainment System with removable tablets and electric massage rear seats available as options, this is one Porsche that's built for those who sometimes prefer to be driven.

Jaguar XJR 575
S$580,000 with COE (estimated), available now

If you're the sort who really enjoys threading a car down a twisty road, the Jaguar XJR575 is probably the pick of this bunch for you. With a bodyshell made of aluminium, the XJR is the lightest car here, and hence likely to be the most dynamic and agile.

It will also provide plenty of old school hot rod thrills, thanks to a supercharged V8 engine that's shared with the F-Type sports car. In that car, the engine's bark sounds every bit as mean as its bite.

Incidentally, with 575hp this car is also Jaguar's most powerful production saloon car, ever. If you want one, you'll have to be decisive about it: in Singapore the car is only available on special order.

Maserati Quattroporte GTS
S$699,800 with COE, available now

Italy might not be a place that immediately comes to mind if you're thinking about luxury cars, but the Maserati Quattroporte GTS can mix it up with the best that Germany and Britain have to offer.

This model has history: the original Quattroporte from 1963 was one of the progenitors of the super saloon formula, where a big luxury saloon was powered by the engine from a powerful racing car.

The turbocharged 530hp V8 from today's Quattroporte isn't race-derived, but does have very special origins - it's designed and hand-assembled by Ferrari. It powers the Quattroporte GTS to a dizzying 310km/h.

Given how Maseratis are not a common sight here, the Quattroporte is bound to be a left-field choice that's guaranteed to be more exclusive than its rivals - even though its name is simply Italian for "four-door".