Just in time for the royal wedding, the British Embassy in Washington held its annual open house last weekend. Anglophiles toured the gardens, noshed on “banger dogs” and sipped Scotch whiskey. Everyone who’s wild about Harry and Meghan could send cards to the happy couple via a red cylindrical mailbox (called a U.K. pillar box, BTW).
But it was the iconic vehicles — from Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lotus and Rolls-Royce — that turned heads. Sure, these cars are now built by automakers from other countries, but their British mojo is as strong as ever. Below are some rides to help you feel like royalty — or at least queen for a day.
LAND ROVER DISCOVERY HSE Td6
Mpg: 21 city/26 highway
0-60 mph: 8.1 seconds
Few vehicles offer the chance to sit on a throne. At least it feels that way in the Land Rover Discovery HSE Td6, with ground clearance up to 11.4 inches high. But instead of a servant to help you in and out of your seat, an air suspension system can lower the ground clearance to a more manageable 8.1 inches. The Td6 is the diesel model, though it’s a bit slower than the traditional-gas version and costs $2,000 more.
But it’s also quieter, with almost 30 percent more fuel efficiency. Despite the size and 4,916-pound curb weight, the Disco (yes, that’s the Discovery nickname) feels light and nimble. Features include tri-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof, power liftgate and 10-speaker audio that can be upgraded to 14 speakers. There’s seating for seven, and the second and third rows fold flat for 83 cubic feet of cargo space — more than enough room for anyone needing a nap (or a “kip,” as they say across the pond).
JAGUAR XF S SPORTBRAKE
Mpg: 19 city/27 highway
0-60 mph: 5.3 second
It’s been almost a decade since Jaguar sold a station wagon on these shores. Now there’s the Sportbrake, which alludes to a “shooting brake” (what Brits call a high-end station wagon).
Based on the midsized XF sedan — with its sleek front end and lightweight aluminum body — the Sportbrake is actually sexier. That’s because it borrows heavily from the F-Pace crossover, which has a sloping tush and snazzy spoiler atop the liftgate. It’s hard to believe any wagon could accelerate, corner and brake so well. Power comes from a supercharged 380-hp V6, which is configured with a smooth eight-speed transmission and all-wheel drive.
The cabin is whisper quiet, with a ginormous glass roof, 10-inch infotainment screen and well-bolstered seats. Other features include front/rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitor, collision warning, wi-fi hotspot and upgraded Meridian audio. As with the Land Rover Discovery, an activity key allows drivers to lock and unlock the vehicle with a Fitbit-like wristband.
As if the Sportbrake weren’t impressive enough, Jaguar says there’s enough cargo room (almost 70 cubic feet) to hold 27,800 golf balls. (We’ll take Jag’s word for it.) For us Yanks, the Sportbrake is a gobsmacking alternative to all those cookie-cutter crossovers out there.
ASTON MARTIN DB11 VOLANTE
Mpg: 15 city/21 highway
0-60 mph: 4.0 seconds
Just like James Bond, the new Aston Martin DB11 Volante convertible is classy and sassy with a shark-like grille, sculpted profile and stunning 503-hp twin-turbo V8.
Rev it up, and the thrilling exhaust rumble is loud and guttural, peppered with firecracker-like pops to wake up knackered neighbors. That drama carries over into the cabin, which is chockablock with luxury: eight-layer insulated fabric top, hand-stitched seats in exotic colors and a quirky push-button shifter.
The rear spoiler automatically rises at certain speeds for better traction, and large discs and six-piston calipers mean Zen-like braking. While the backseats look great, they’re impractical for anything larger than an English bulldog. And there’s virtually no cargo room in the boot, er, trunk. But then Aston Martins are all about indulging the senses, not loading up at Costco.