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Best luxury, family car for travelling across Europe

Jaguar XJ

Family road trips can be challenging at the best of times, but if you’re planning a journey across Europe, you’ll be thankful of that extra bit of comfort during the long days of driving.

A luxury car can offer you just that, and if you’re a frequent traveller on the continent, a left-hand drive model is much more efficient and easier to use on European roads than British models. Not only that, but you could find that a left hand drive car is easier on the wallet since cars that are produced in Europe are left hand drive by default.

Luxury cars can be a bit of a mixed bag, with some of the executive roadsters ill-suited for family drives. Here is a selection of luxury cars that will make your European road trip more enjoyable. Some of these upmarket models come with a high price tag, so be sure to check that your car insurance policy covers you for driving on European roads. Also, double check that your insurance provider is able to provide cover specifically for left hand drive models.

Jaguar XJ

Best suited for: A versatile journey that covers both city hopping and longer roads. Price: from £56,000

The Jaguar XJ knows a thing or two about long journeys. In December 2012, the XJ went on a 2,000-mile road trip to the Arctic, surviving varied terrain and temperatures as low as -49°C. The XJ is a cut above the rest with its stylish leather and polished wood interior, and with an aluminium chassis it's one of the lighter luxury saloons on the market.

There's also some power beneath the bonnet to complement the flashy features. A 3.0 litre V6 diesel engine will help you cruise the Autobahn with enough power to keep up with the locals, but with minimum vibrations felt inside. This will allow you to burn some miles while the kids sleep soundly in the back seat.

Range Rover Autobiography

Range Rover Autobiography

Best suited for: Longer road trips with the kids and luggage Price: from £87,000

If you have a larger family then you'll want something that increases space without sacrificing comfort. This is where the Range Rover Autobiography comes in. With a generous 909 litres of storage space with all seats upright (and 2,030 litres with the seats down) you'll have enough room to store your gear for the trip and still give the kids some leg room.

Though the idea of driving a £90,000 motor into rugged terrain is a little daunting, the Autobiography certainly has that capability if you're inclined to ride on the less maintained roads of Europe, making use of a high ground clearance and ability to wade through 900mm of water.

BMW ActiveHybrid 3

BMW 3-Series ActiveHybrid

Best suited for: Energy conscious drivers who want better fuel economy Price: from £40,000

Unlike the archetype hybrid Toyota Prius, the 3-Series ActiveHybrid isn't focussed on ultra-frugality with your fuel, but rather it balances good fuel economy with the kind of power and performance for which BMW are known.

In Eco-Drive mode you can cruise around busy urban European centres with ease, relying on the electric motor to power your trip. If you want a little more punch behind the wheel, switching to Sport mode allows the hybrid to work the best of both electric and 300-hp petrol engine to tackle some of the more ambitious highways.

It's not all about the hybrid technology though. The BMW 3-Series also has mounted cameras around the car as part of the ConnectedDrive system to assist with parking and surrounding hazards. The implementation of this safety tech has helped to earn the 3-Series a five star rating from Euro NCAP, and if you're carrying your family across borders and through unfamiliar roads, safety is paramount.

Last year, Emma Button of Parent Wheels made the journey from the UK to Poland and back with her family along for the ride. Here she gives some tips as to what you should look for in a car for a European family trip,

"Travelling on the German Autobahn in a car that struggles to keep up with those around it can be very intimidating - a car which has a good acceleration even at high speeds is preferable.

"A hybrid car works really well if you are touring whole countries because you can get good petrol fuel economy on the motorways and save fuel when you are stuck in traffic jams or pootling around city streets.

"Adjustable seats for grown-ups and plenty of storage space for snacks and toys for children [are a must]. Integrated sun-shades on the windows are also a great idea if you're travelling this summer."

Whichever choice you make, these models show that luxury doesn't have to be sacrificed in the name of practicality, economy or versatility. Is there any better way to see the sights of the continent?

Jamie Gibbs is the motoring blogger for car insurance comparison site His travel plans include an epic road trip one day, but his first hurdle is learning to drive.