Just like their mainstream counterparts, luxury brands put a lot of effort into attracting both new customers and new kinds of customers. To broaden their client base, most luxury marques have entry-level models that are aimed at first-time premium-vehicle buyers.
These shoppers may not have the budget for a more expensive car, but they still want the caché and ownership experience that come with a luxury vehicle. Entry-level premium cars can deliver those benefits, and often at a cost that’s not much higher than the average transaction price for a new vehicle today.
Below are five top entry-level cars from premium brands.
2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia
The rear-wheel-drive Giulia serves up lots of standard horsepower, and it comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. For comparison’s sake, the standard engine in the BMW 3 Series tops out at 180 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque.
The Giulia also has a number of luxury-style standard comfort and convenience features, such as leather seats, a power-adjustable front row and a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel. Standard technology features include a rearview camera, a 6.5-inch display, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration and an eight-speaker sound system.
Another highlight for the Giulia is its distinctive exterior design, set off by an unmistakable three-cornered grille.
With an MSRP of $37,995, the Giulia is the most expensive car on our list. The sedan is available with all-wheel drive.
2018 Audi A3
With its relatively low base price and a generous list of standard features, the Audi A3 may offer the best value of the current crop of entry-level luxury cars. The A3 starts at $31,950, and base models come with comfort and convenience features such as heated power-adjustable front seats, leather upholstery and a panoramic sunroof. Standard technology features include a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, a nine-speaker stereo and a forward collision-warning system.
Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for 186 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, and the car achieves mileage of up to 26/35 mpg city/highway. All-wheel drive is available for travels in rough weather.
2018 Cadillac ATS
With the Cadillac ATS, technology is the key selling point. The standard infotainment system for the ATS showcases both Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone integration and a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot that can support online connections in up to seven devices at a time. This setup also brings a generously sized 8-inch touch screen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, wireless charging and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system.
Under the hood, there’s a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. You can equip this sedan with all-wheel drive for more secure handling in rain and snow.
The ATS has a base price of $35,495.
2018 Jaguar XE
A compact, rear-wheel-drive sedan, the XE is available from $35,725 and provides segment-competitive levels of standard content across the board.
Base models come with comfort and convenience features such as a sunroof, dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats and simulated leather upholstery. The lineup of standard technology content includes an 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, HD radio and a six-speaker audio system. A rearview camera is offered as optional equipment.
The XE relies on a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that supplies 247 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is available for extra traction on slippery roads.
2018 Lexus IS
The Lexus IS is a compact rear-wheel-drive sedan that starts at $38,210. It’s motivated by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, and gears are shifted by an eight-speed automatic transmission.
This Lexus carries an especially strong package of standard driver-assistance technologies. The list includes lane departure alert, adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation and automatic high beams. There’s also a standard rearview camera on board to assist with parking maneuvers.
Other standard technology features include a 10-speaker sound system, HD radio, hands-free text messaging, app-based navigation and Bluetooth connectivity. Base models also come with a strong assortment of comfort and convenience features. These amenities include simulated leather upholstery, heated exterior mirrors and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.
Those who frequently drive through rain and snow will appreciate the IS sedan’s available all-wheel drive. Models equipped with this feature come standard with heated front seats.