The sedan is dead; long live the sedan! Four-door cars were once the most common mode of transportation. Today, the crossover SUV has dethroned the sedan as the default people-mover. Auto manufacturers have pivoted by turning their sedans into up-sells of their crossovers. These new sedans are faster, more fuel-efficient, and stylish. Even entry-level sedans such as the Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata now boast fastbacks and “sensuous styling.” It is no wonder that among the coupes and hypercars of Car and Driver’s “Most Beautiful Cars of 2021” are many sedans. Here are the six most beautiful sedans of 2021.
#1: Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
When Stellantis-owned Alfa Romeo introduced the Giulia Quadrifoglio, many critics called it an automatic-only M4. But while BMW’s motto is “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” Alfa Romeo’s insists “Without Heart, We Would Be Mere Machines.”
Nowhere is Alfa Romeo’s heart more evident than in the design of its Giulia Quadrifoglio. Unlike previous modern Alfa Romeos (I’m thinking of the 8C and the 4C), the Giulia Quadrifoglio is a four-door car, with plenty of room for four adults. Yet it is still stylish, it is cool, and parked in a row of lesser sedans it gives you an undeniable “wow” factor. This Giulia looks best going fast. And it can keep up with almost any German sedan in the corners. The Giula tops the Car and Driver list. This Alfa Romeo starts at $75,250.
#2: Audi RS7
Audi has always underpriced and often outperformed its rival BMW. Today’s Audis are dialing up the style as well. This year’s lineup are especially aggressive and at the head of the pack is the redesigned 2021 Audi RS7.
This car has wider fenders and a lower height than its S-trim and A-trim siblings. The most eye-catching feature of the RS7 is its dramatic fastback roofline. This “luxury sportback” packs a twin-turbo V8, so the RS7 has the power to back up its muscular looks. The 2021 Audi RS7 price starts at $114,000.
#3: Bentley Flying Spur
When it comes to sedans, Bentley has been the brand to beat for decades. Many have tried to topple the king, none have succeeded. The 2021 Bentley Flying Spur proves that the 102-year-old bespoke British brand still has it.
The most amazing thing about this generation of the flying spur, is that it manages to look sporty and cutting-edge, while still very much being a Bentley. Bentley accentuates the width of the rear fenders with dramatic creases. With classic, “coke bottle” styling, this Bentley narrows at the doors and then swells again to a wide, unmistakably Bentley front-clip with a squared-off grille and four headlights. Inside, the Bentley is as opulent as ever, and this luxurious interior is one of the reasons the 2021 Bentley Flying Spur starts at $196,000. And selecting the supercar V12 engine option launches the Bentley Flying Spur into the supercar price range.
#4: Mazda 3
The 2021 Mazda 3 is completely redesigned. Its styling benefits from a confident restraint many modern supercar designers lack. While other sedans bulge and bend at odd angles, the Mazda is simple. Its two defining features, its sculpted roofline/trunk curve and its shark nose, complement one another perfectly. Its few creases are thoughtful, perfectly reflecting the light during both day and night.
Do not confuse “simple” with “boring.” The Mazda 3 is a sorted sporting sedan, and a blast to drive. The 2021 Mazda 3 weighs just three thousand pounds. As always, Mazda offers a manual transmission. This “little car that could” handily won Car and Driver’s 2021 Editors’ Choice Award. Best of all, this Mazda starts at $20,650.
#5: Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan
The redesigned 2021 Mercedes S-Class can be summed up in one word: balance. The available 496 horsepower V8 is balanced by smooth-riding air suspension. Cutting-edge 3D displays are balanced by a timeless, expertly crafted interior. And the increased size and of the Mercedes flagship is balanced by thoughtful, elegant styling.
The looks of the new S-Class are defined by the style lines running the length of the car, both atop the hood and along the bottom of the body panels. To keep our focus on these breath-taking lines, the German designers have removed every excessive detail, pulling the sheet metal tight around these creases. The result is sublime. Like every aspect of the new S-Class, its price has increased as well. This car starts at $109,800.
#6: Porsche Taycan
Porsche designers pulled out all the stops with their Mission E prototype. They lengthened and smoothed out the 911, maintaining much of what makes this masterpiece timeless. Critics swooned. Porsche bravely built the Taycan, carrying over an unprecedented amount of the prototype’s design. The result is one of the best-looking electric vehicles to-date.
The resulting car drives like a Porsche, accelerating from zero to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds. It is a conversation piece, a showstopper, and gives us hope for the future of the car.