Drive Car Of The Year

Best EV Over $120,000 2023

Best EV Over $120,000

These eye-catching electric cars exist at the cutting edge of luxury and technology. So which flagship EV sets the benchmarks for opulence and enjoyment?

Although a niche category for most buyers, electric cars priced over $120,000 tend to be where manufacturers have the most fun. 

In choosing our finalists, we asked brands to put their best foot forward and assist us in assembling a vanguard for the electric revolution.

Not only do our three contenders have high price points; they are advocates for the technology and features that will soon trickle down to mainstream models, providing a real-world glimpse into the future of motoring. 

Given this segment sits at the cutting edge of automotive technology, it’s unsurprising that two of our finalists are new entrants to the category. 

Joining last year’s winner, the Porsche Taycan, is the Mercedes-AMG EQS53, which launched in mid-2022, and the BMW i7, which debuted the day our testing commenced.

A notable omission is the Audi E-Tron GT, the Taycan’s under-the-skin twin that also launched the day our testing began. Unfortunately, Audi was unable to make a car available for testing. 

In choosing our winner, we looked for a premium interior with impressive attention to detail, an on-road feel that combines exhilarating performance with stunning refinement, an efficient and effective electric drive experience, and ground-breaking infotainment and technology features. 

Winner: BMW i7


BMW i7

BMW i7

2 variants available

$ 306,900* MRLP

What we love

  • -Cabin shows impressive attention to detail
  • -A sumptuous, refined ride with savage performance 
  • -Excellent rear passenger experience 

What we don't

  • -Large footprint could prove limiting in urban settings
  • -Energy consumption errs on the high side 
  • -Lacks ultra-rapid 350kW charging capabilities 

A masterclass in design and technology, the BMW i7 exhibits the fruits of BMW’s partnership with Rolls-Royce to breathtaking effect. 

From the automatic closing doors to the Swarovski crystal headlights, the BMW i7 possesses all the elegant execution you’d expect from the Spirit of Ecstasy at half the price. 

Wool-cashmere seats, crystal switchgear, and an open-pore wood trim accent – a veritable feast in an interior that marries practicality with luxury and caters just as generously to its rear seat occupants as it does to its driver.

Cabin accoutrements aside, the i7 is quite simply a joy to drive.

The BMW's ride is not just the best in its class; it is quite possibly the best of any car we’ve driven. Somehow BMW has managed to pair this air-cushion ride comfort with graceful handling and savage performance when pushed.

This is particularly evident in breakneck Boost mode, which transforms the 2.7-tonne behemoth into a powerhouse of performance possessing the explosive agility of an Olympic sprinter. 

The cabin is a veritable feast that opulently marries practicality with luxury.

Enhancing the driver's experience are infotainment and driver assistance features that showcase BMW’s technical prowess. 

A 36-speaker Bowers and Wilkins sound system encases the driver in crystalline music, while the rear seat entertainment suite provides passengers with a wide-screen worthy of their local cinema, minus the armrest wrestle with the person next to you.

Driver assistance features go above and beyond, like the adaptive regenerative braking system, which monitors surrounding traffic conditions and slows the vehicle accordingly, or the manoeuvre assistant that can get you in and out of tight parking spaces.

Despite the high cost of entry, very few options were fitted to our test car other than the reclining, ventilated, massage rear seat functions – providing plenty of pay-off for the i7's opening $297,900 (before options and on-road costs) splurge.

If we sound borderline sycophantic, it’s because this is a car that deserves these many accolades. 

When struggling to identify downsides, we decided the i7’s imposing footprint could be challenging to manoeuvre in city streets and the automatic door gimmick is somewhat inconsistent in its execution – often requiring multiple button pushes or occasional manual intervention.

While the i7’s body glides around in a manner that belies its size, shifting that heft comes at the cost to energy consumption, which hovered between 25–28kWh/100km during our testing period. Still, that’s less of an issue when you have 625km of claimed range to play with.

The i7's charging speed is also capped at 195kW, meaning owners can’t take full advantage of ultra-rapid and 350kW chargers and is behind the charge rate of other, cheaper, electric vehicles.

Otherwise, the BMW i7 is a masterpiece of technology and luxury and a deserving winner of Drive's Best Electric Vehicle over $120,000 for 2023. 

Runner-up: Porsche Taycan


Porsche Taycan

Porsche Taycan

8 variants available

$ 158,100 - $ 351,000* MRLP

What we love

  • -Exhilarating acceleration and handling
  • -Solid efficiency, even on demanding drive loops
  • -Elegant, understated interior design

What we don't

  • -Limited boot and back seat space
  • -Infotainment lacks Porsche personality
  • -Standard equipment has some notable omissions

Even in the light of new category entrants this year, our 2022 incumbent still holds up – particularly when it comes to performance prowess. 

The arrival of the Taycan GTS specification grade provides buyers with a new sweet spot in the Taycan range, sitting below the Taycan Turbos yet maintaining a sub-four-second 0–100km/h time and an electric range of up to 485km. 

As a sports car, the Taycan is almost impossible to fault. Lightning-fast acceleration, deliciously direct steering, and a sporty yet balanced ride make for a thrilling behind-the-wheel feel. 

Despite its lower stance, the Taycan rarely lacks composure no matter the terrain and is overtly capable, never baulking at being nudged around sharp corners or pushed to accelerate from a standstill. 

So rapid is the Taycan's initial acceleration that a few judges reported feeling slightly nauseous from the car’s merciless velocity when being put through its paces.

Somehow, it achieves all of this while maintaining a surprisingly low energy consumption, recording an average of 20kWh/100km during our demanding testing loop. It also scores points for having a higher peak charging rate than most – able to fast-charge at up to 270kW.

Meanwhile, the accompanying electric soundscape ups the exhilaration and fun factor and is a refreshing departure from the cringeworthy fake engine noises of other EVs. 

This is a car that doesn’t just preach to the converted; it holds an appeal that will sway even the staunchest of EV opposers. 

Still, the Taycan is no one-trick pony, particularly in GTS guise. Priced from $237,000 plus on-road costs, it is not only our most affordable finalist (relative though that may be), it possesses thoughtful luxury elements that make it more than just a performance hero.

From the velvety Alcantara roof liner to the sculpted rear seats and the charge port lid that can be opened with the swipe of a finger, the Taycan has an understated sophistication that’s quintessentially Porsche. 

Sadly, a few enticing features on our test car were optional extras, including the dedicated front passenger display, the four-zone climate control system and the striking 21-inch RS Spyder wheels.

Plus, there’s no wireless smartphone charger or live speed sign recognition information.

With its low-slung driving position, the Taycan certainly feels more like a sports car with rear seats, but rear seat room and boot space are limited – although somewhat improved by a frunk with enough room for a small carry-on suitcase.  

One of the judges’ other gripes was that the Taycan’s futuristic, screen-laden dash meant some trademark Porsche craftsmanship was sacrificed, robbing us of the tactile switchgear and analogue accents possessed by its non-electric siblings. The streamlined infotainment system is also reminiscent of an Apple product and lacks any identifiable Porsche cues or design touches.

Otherwise, the Taycan continues to impress with a sensational driving experience worthy of a Porsche sports car, but with appealing efficiency and an elegant cabin that somehow retains a semblance of practicality for everyday use.

Finalist: Mercedes-AMG EQS53

With its elongated stance, sloped roofline and sleek silhouette, the Mercedes-AMG EQS53 is almost spaceship-like in its execution.

This otherworldly exterior pays off on the road where the EQS53’s aerodynamics enable it to achieve jaw-dropping performance stats.

Power peaks at 484kW and there’s 900Nm of torque on tap – with the option of boosting this further with the AMG Dynamic Plus Package.

That means this luxury limo is no slouch, with a vigour that catches you offguard given its sizable 2.6-tonne kerb weight.

The undeniable focal point of the interior is the massive hyperscreen (essentially three screens integrated to look singular) that sweeps across the dash and provides a visual feast of driver data while still permitting individual configurability and user-friendly functionality. 

Drivers are greeted by endlessly configurable interior lighting that changes colour as you drive, a voice assistant that can remind you when you've left your phone in the charger, and augmented reality navigation that flashes directions into your eye-line via the optional head-up display.

Meanwhile, even the front passenger is afforded the ability to move through music tracks and access navigation instructions with their own designated infotainment panel. 

Mercedes has worked to take as much burden off the driver as possible, providing an incredibly crisp overhead camera view that uses augmented reality to offer utter precision when parking.

The entire back panel of the car magically opens to reveal an expansive boot that’s almost as wide as it is deep, offering 580L of space that should more than suffice for any of your storage needs.

During our testing, we recorded average energy consumption of 23kWh/100km, which served as the mid-point of our three finalists.

The EQS53’s fast-charging capabilities are also capped at 200kW, meaning you can’t take full advantage of ultra-rapid 350kW chargers to replenish the 587km of claimed range available.

In the judges’ opinions, the EQS53’s shortcomings arose mainly from the fact its luxury leanings were compromised by its sporting sensibilities.

As is to be expected from an AMG model, the ride in the EQS53 is firm, but we found it fell short in refinement and was over-reactive on road imperfections. 

Additionally, when moved off-centre, the car’s four-wheel steering tended to jolt the car and lacked fluidity. 

The futuristic interior design is undeniably striking, but the judges found the use of hard plastics across some parts of the dash and centre console undermined the interior’s luxury feel. 

At $370,000 on the road, the Mercedes-AMG EQS53 is also the most expensive finalist, although that's hardly going to serve as a deterrent for AMG devotees.

Those aforementioned devotees will be happy to hear Mercedes has managed to preserve the AMG spirit while delivering a four-door electric limousine at the forefront of automotive technology. 

You can read about all the other 2023 Drive Car of the Year categories and winners here:
Drive Car of the Year categories and winners

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