Beautiful Beasts – Top 10 Italian Luxury Cars
January 14, 2020
Riley’s TMA Howe offers up this list of the very best Italian luxury cars currently available on the world’s market
Italy. Is it really the country where all the truly great luxury cars originate? Certainly the luxury sports cars, with such iconic brands such as Lamborghini, Maserati and Ferrari, to name just a few – brands that were created in response to the country’s passion for racing and from which other equally luxurious and sporty brands have evolved.
The cars listed below are my personal current Top 10 Italian luxury cars, in no particular order. But each is worthy of its own write up and review… something I’ve been told Riley is planning on doing in the upcoming months.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Who would have thought that a company that started with the Italian word for ‘anonymous’ (ALFA = Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, or Anonymous Lombard Automobile Factory) would become anything but unknown! Over the years, Alfa has created some amazing machines, but recently has been in a bit of a slump.
That has changed, though, with the launch of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. The Giulia was launched as the car to rekindle the love in the famous brand, and the Quadrifoglio the first to be shown (the Quadrifoglio logo – also called the ‘cloverleaf’ – has been the symbol of Alfa Romeo racing cars since WWII). With much Ferrari input (from the design team to the adapted V6 engine), the car does not disappoint. Motoring journalists across the world have raved over the new car, and I must admit to being a huge fan myself. The 2.9litre engine produces 503bhp, and will get from 0-62mph in less than four seconds before reaching nearly 200mph.
Maserati Granturismo MC
Maserati has produced some wonderful sports cars over the years, my personal favourite being the Bora from the early 70s. Since becoming part of the Fiat group, the quality has improved and the marque now has an impressive range of cars.
The Granturismo was launched in 2007 and has now evolved into one of the best GT cars on the road today. The 2018 model has had some tweaks that have made what was already a handsome car into a thing of true beauty. As well as a gorgeous exterior, the interior is a place of beauty where four adults can comfortably cruise along the autostrada powered by the 4.7litre V8 producing 460bhp, reaching 62mph in less than five seconds and with a top speed of around 190mph.
Ferrari would be on anybody’s top 10 list, but I’m sure there could be a huge debate as to which actual model. Ferrari has been building wonderful machines ever since Enzo rolled out the 125S 70 years ago.
The model I have chosen here is the F12, which was first seen at the Geneva Motor Show in 2012. Designed in collaboration with Pininfarina, when launched it was the most powerful high-performance Ferrari road car ever built. Bringing the expertise from F1, the F12 has brilliant aerodynamics to push the front of the car into the ground at speed whilst also reducing drag. I personally think the rear of this car is a design masterpiece, and probably the most common view to other drivers as the car accelerates to 60mph in around three seconds and the 6litre V12 producing 730bhp then takes the car on to more than 210mph.
Lamborghini Aventador S
Lamborghini has produced so many striking machines over the years with names such as Miura, Islero, Countach and Urraco all wearing the ‘S’ badge. Now there is a successor worthy to follow in their shoes: the iconic Aventador S Coupé.
As with the original Aventador, this is a mean looking machine, and there is no doubting what it is capable of from just the appearance. The ‘S’ is an excellent evolution of the original model, with some exciting updates that make this a true drivers car. If you happen to hear one pass you by, the roar from the engine is music to your ears. As the 5.5litre V12 engine producing 730bhp accelerates to 60mph in less than three seconds, that sound will stay with you as the car winds up to 217mph.
Mazzanti is a name not normally included in a list of luxury sports cars. However, this little Italian manufacturer has produced a real gem with the Evantra.
In the early 80s a young Luca Mazzanti started “disassembling and modifying” his toy cars. By the early 90s he was working in his father’s body shop honing his skills. Luca wanted to bring back the glorious past of the small Italian car manufacturers of the 60s so developed the Antas which won many awards in the early 2000s. In 2012 the first rendering of Evantra was exhibited.
Today we have the exclusive tailor-made luxury Evantra supercar. With only five models produced each year, this two-seater coupé is manufactured to each customer’s personal specifications. The end result is a gorgeous machine with a 7-litre V8 producing 751bhp, accelerating from 0-60 in less than three seconds and with a top speed of over 220mph.
Pronounced ‘H-wire-ah’, it’s the successor to the great Zonda and named after a South American wind god called Huayra Tata. Pagani was founded by the Argentinian Horacio Pagani – another ex-employee from an Italian supercar manufacturer, Lamborghini.
The Zonda was launched at the 1999 Geneva Motor show and after many derivatives over the years, was joined by the Huayra Hypercar which debuted at Geneva in 2011. With an amazing power-to-weight ratio, this beast is capable of over 230mph thanks to the AMG sourced 6-litre V12. No more than 40 will be built each year at over £1 million each.
The Quattroporte (literally, ‘four-door’) name has been in the Maserati line up since the early 60s. The current sixth generation model was revealed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2013. Revamped in 2016, the Quattroporte makes for fine luxury travel.
This car is up against some impressive German competitors, but it has what they do not – Italian style. With some input from its Italian cousin Ferrari, the GTS model with its 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 certainly sounds like it means business. Not only does it sound good, but it will move you along at speeds of up to nearly 200mph and will reach 60 in under five seconds.
Unveiled at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, the Ferrari GTC4Lusso succeeded the FF. This is the nearest Ferrari get to making an estate car and they have done a superb job, and it looks simply gorgeous. Ferrari call it a shooting brake, and it has four seats and space for luggage for the weekend away.
Whilst it may be an ‘estate’ car, it is still a true Ferrari at heart; the 6.3-litre V12 powers the four-wheel drive wagon to over 200mph and will reach 60mph in just slightly over three seconds. Some might say that for the quarter million pounds it costs, you could fill your garage with a number of other desirable cars – but they wouldn’t have the famous Prancing Horse on them, and wouldn’t look so special.
Lamborghini replaced their previous best selling model, the Gallardo, in 2014 with the Huracán that was launched earlier that year at the Geneva Motor Show. The car was soon voted “The Supercar of the Year 2014” by car magazine Top Gear.
Whereas the Aventador (see above) is a mean machine of old school Lamborghinis, the Huracán is the ‘entry-level’ model – ideal for pootling about the city. That said, remember this is still a Lamborghini! There is still a Performante version – which is far from entry level – and will take you over 200mph and reach 0-60 in less than three seconds.
Zagato Aston Martin Vanquish
OK, you have spotted the issue here – Aston Martin isn’t Italian! However, I have included this in my top 10 in honour of the coachbuilder Zagato. Zagato has been ‘dressing’ wonderful cars for the best part of 100 years. In the 1920s Alfa Romeo came second in the Mille Miglia with a Zagato bodied 6C. Since then, there have been many wonderful machines based on Alfas, Lancias, Ferraris, Maseratis and Aston Martins, to name a few.
The collaboration between Aston Martin and Zagato began with the beautifully muscular DB4 GT Zagato racing car of 1960 – it’s now valued at over £10 million. The Vanquish Zagato Concept was unveiled to great acclaim at the prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Lake Como, Italy, in May 2016. The new bodywork is entirely shaped from carbon-fibre with round tail light reflectors that evoke the classic Zagato rear view. The Vanquish Zagato’s glasshouse wraps around the bodywork like a visor, enhancing its forceful stance.
Inside, the Vanquish Zagato continues the fine tradition of Aston Martin craftsmanship. The Vanquish Zagato is also defined by the unique ‘Z’ quilt pattern stitch used on the seat and door sections, as well as the celebrated trademark Zagato ‘Z’ embossed on headrests and stitched into the centre console. Whilst it looks gorgeous, underneath it is still an Aston and the 6-litre V12 will take the car to 60mph in just over three seconds.
With such a wonderful cornucopia of simply gorgeous marques from Italy, I could have gone on, and on, and on…
However, these 10 beauties are a taster of the top Italian luxury cars this remarkable nation has to offer, and I would be more than happy with any one of them.
TMA Howe is Riley’s go-to car guy.