Best Executive Cars

10 minutes Published: 12/03/2020
Sidse Sorensen

The executive car has been around forever, and you can bet good money that it’s not going anywhere. 

It's the weapon of choice for most high profile politicians, royal families, and big CEO hotshots. An executive saloon is not only timeless and exclusive, but it’s also a powerful, comfortable, and luxurious ride. 

Exec cars usually come with an exec price tag. However, when you lease - you only pay for the depreciation of the vehicle whilst you use it. Typically, German and European manufactured high-end cars, such as most of the entries on this list, retain their value extremely well! Because the depreciation is relatively low, it’s more affordable to lease.

If you’re on the lookout for a new saloon, but struggling to pick your favourite, check out our list of the best executive cars down below! 

Want a luxury car but don't need a big saloon? Check out our best compact saloons. Need a car for work? Have a read over our best company cars.

1. BMW 5 Series Saloon (2017)

RRP: £35,620 - £56,425
  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Pros

  • The front grille remains shut until the engine needs cooling down, a pretty cool feature and brilliant for the aerodynamics.

  • It’s the lightest car in its range.

Cons

  • The key looks like it’s from the future, but the touch screen is rather slow and laggy.

  • Boot space in the 5 Series is smaller than similarly priced rivals. 

This is a classy yet muscular car. The 5 Series Saloon from BMW is on the leading edge of driver-aid tech and if you tick the right boxes, your new car can feature Mild Hybrid technology with adaptive headlights, semi-autonomous assist, BMW heads-up display, and a display key that will literally park your car for you. 

The steering in the 5 Series is sharp and the rear-wheel-drive (or all-wheel-drive option if you feel like splashing out) ensures that your grip is superb even when turning corners at high speeds. For the engine, the best choice is the diesel, but there are plenty of petrol and hybrid options too, should you be that way inclined. 

Inside, the 5 Series is a great looking car. It’s a luxurious affair, and all materials feel solid and high-quality. It offers a nice combination of sporty appeal and up-market class, so it’s definitely the best of two worlds. 

Our Rating:

2. Audi A6 Saloon

RRP: £40,780 - £77,545 | From £489.91 per month to lease
  • Doors: 4
  • Engine: 5.2
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 346g/km

Pros

  • State-of-the-art interior.

  • Stunningly quiet to drive.

Cons

  • You’ll have to pay extra for some of the flagship Audi technology.

  • Compared to its rivals, the exterior of the A6 is a bit boring.

The A6 is a fantastic all-round luxurious saloon. It’s got state-of-the-art tech, minimalist yet sporty design and an aerodynamic body. The A6 is the definition of style and substance. You have plenty of efficient and powerful engine choices that drive remarkably well.

All engines are punchy and very quiet. Behind the wheel, the A6 feels posh as anything. The dashboard takes its style and classic Audi features from the A7 and A8 and the full dash is simple but very exclusive.

The seating in the back is industry-leading and the A6 has a very big spacious boot à la Audi with a nice practical square space, so you can feel quietly smug when you have impressed passengers in the back. 

Our Rating:

3. Volvo S90 Saloon (2017)

RRP: £34,500 - £58,500
  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Pros

  • The lights are designed to look like Thor’s hammer.

  • Pedestrian protection system will auto-brake when spotting a pedestrian, cyclist or a larger animal.

Cons

  • The S90 is not the most sporty saloon.

  • Only available with a four-cylinder engine.

Boasting serenity, Scandi-charm and some uncompromising safety features - the Volvo S90 is something else. You can’t fault the drive of the S90 - it’s comfortable and even the entry-level trim suspension is on point. Volvo has nailed the aerodynamics of the body and wing mirrors making the driving pretty quiet, especially on the motorway.

 The S90 standard trim, Momentum, is really all you need. Parking and pilot assist, 18” alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, and a banging 330-watt stereo. The driver’s display is impressive, graphics are crisp, the system is smooth and the menu intuitive. And the seats? Just wow. They’re ergonomically designed, luxuriously plush, and absolutely stunning to look at.

Overall, the S90 is an impeccable comfy saloon car and although its rivals are slightly sportier - this is a proper contestant for the one of the best executive cars around. 

Our Rating:

4. Jaguar XF Saloon (2015)

RRP: £34,680 - £49,845
  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Pros

  • Entry-level trim gets heated, electrically operated leather seats, SatNav and rear & front parking sensors - what a standard package!

  • The Jag adaptive dynamic system measures the position of the wheels 500 times/ second and adjusts the dampers accordingly.

Cons

  • It’s quite a bit noisier drive than its rivals.

  • The interior is a bit so-so with some cheaper looking plastic in the cockpit.

The XF looks and feels like driving a race car despite it being a fairly chunky saloon. 

When on the road, the XF has supreme rolling power and the rear suspension does a fine job of levelling out all surface imperfections and larger potholes. 

The entry-level trim, XF Saloon Prestige, comes with a choice of engines and the standard 2.0-litre turbodiesel is clean, fairly nippy and economical. The 3.0 twin-turbodiesel, however, is a worthy upgrade and offers an extremely powerful and refined drive. 

Front seats in the XF are comfy enough, but nothing to brag about compared to the Volvo. Rear seats are spacious and plush and will even fit three adults comfortably. For infotainment, the standard is an 8” touch screen, the InControl, with a range of bespoke Jaguar apps.

We love this Jaguar’s sporty appearance and roaring engine.

Our Rating:

5. Mercedes E Class Saloon (2016)

RRP: £36,955 - £56,540
  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Pros

  • CarPilot is included as standard.

  • The gearbox is superb and the reaction time when putting your foot down is very, very good. 

Cons

  • The premium looking exhausts are fake. We don’t like being tricked.

  • Lumbar support is not included in the entry-level trim.

Wait, is it a C-Class, E-Class or an S-Class? It can be hard to tell because they all look more or less the same - on the outside. But that’s a good thing because they all look fantastic!

Steering is fairly sporty but there is a bit of body roll. To be honest, the E-Class is more of a cruiser than a sporty car. It’s all about comfort and the ride is very hushed, with potentially the best suspension and aerodynamics in its class. Available in hybrid, diesel, and petrol, you can take your pick of the bunch, depending on your needs.

With CarPilot included as standard - the Mercedes E-Class can effectively drive and park itself. The entry-level model comes with an 8.4” infotainment central screen that can be controlled by touch, the steering wheel touchpads and via the Mercedes rotary controller. The drive is luxurious, the interiors are nice, and the engine is surprisingly economical. 

Our Rating:

6. BMW 3 Series Saloon

RRP: £30,690 - £48,920 | From £292.00 per month to lease
  • Doors: 2 - 4
  • Engine: 3.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 243g/km

Pros

  • As an upgrade, you can unlock, start and stop your car with your phone (via NFC only)

  • If you say ‘Hey BMW, I’m getting tired’ the car will do everything in its power to wake you up. Cool air con will blast into your face in bursts, beats will start and if you have a sunroof - it’ll open up.

Cons

  • Door handles look a bit basic.

  • The reversing assistant can be a bit buggy.

Since 1975, BMW has tested, tuned and improved its 3 Series and is now on their 7th generation of the BMW Series 3 range. The 3 Series Saloon keeps getting smarter and faster, while still maintaining a solid fuel economy. 

The 3 Series really delivers on its performance, economy, handling and ride comfort. The steering is super sharp, and this is perhaps the sportiest saloon on the market!

With its distinctive BMW front grille, the 3 Series is a through-and-through BMW. The center of gravity has been lowered ensuring a more fluid drive and less body roll when going around corners. 

The 3 Series also has an improved aerodynamic design and a state-of-the-art acoustic windscreen minimising wind whistling. Infotainment in the 3 Series doesn’t just have touch functionality on its 10.25” display, it also has the very reliable and easy to work iDrive rotary (with a trackpad), voice control AND gesture control.

Our Rating:

7. Mercedes C Class Saloon

RRP: £28,695 - £44,145 | From £394.97 per month to lease
  • Doors: 2 - 4
  • Engine: 6.2
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 312g/km

Pros

  • The C-Class has semi-autonomous driving and can drive itself up to 37mph.

  • Interior quality is exceptional. 

Cons

  • Even on the most expensive trim, the AMG, the seat adjust is a manual job.

  • The standard infotainment looks a bit like a kids tablet.

As the best selling Mercedes in the UK, and basically a mini S-Class, the C-Class is an absolutely cracking car. With the choice of three diesels, three petrols and two AMG performance models - you’ve got an almost overwhelming range of engines to choose from. The C-Class is a comfortable ride and isn’t really designed to provide much sporty fun. 

Interior of the C-Class is one of it’s best features and even the standard trim comes with a LOT of features and extra functionality. On the entry-level trim, you’ll get heated front seats, reversing camera, a 10.25” infotainment system, handcrafted leather seats and automated tailgate - to mention but a few!  The steering wheel is robust and sporty and has a good selection of shortcut buttons that work brilliantly when on the move.

If you’re after a comfortable, relaxing, luxurious ride with that coveted Mercedes star on the front to boot, then this vehicle is worth considering!

Our Rating:

8. Jaguar XE

RRP: £28,710 - £45,250
  • Doors: 4
  • Engine: 5.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive: A, M
  • CO2: 254g/km

Pros

  • Perhaps the most fun car to drive in its range.

  • From the Jag App, you can lock the car, set the climate control and close the windows from your bed, or from the other side of the world if you so desire. 

Cons

  • Visibility in the XE is not great. With wide pillars on the left and right-hand side there are some big blind spots when you’re looking ahead.

  • The noise reduction is poor compared to rivals.

The dashboard on the XE is inspired by an Italian speedboat. Do you even need to know more about the interior of the Jag? With perhaps the best chassis balance and steering in its range, the XE is one of the most fun executive cars to drive. Adaptive dampers are included as standard, as opposed to the Audi and BMW rivals. Take that! 

When driving the XE, the engine roars when you put your foot down. This is quite fun, but if you’re wanting a serene luxurious car then perhaps this will annoy you. The engines are generally quite economical and the performance is very good across the engine board. 

As you plump into the driver's seat, it almost feels as if you’re in a sports car. The dash is sleek and sporty and you'll immediately find yourself comfortable supported by the handcrafted leather seats. There are a few bits of hard plastic which is a shame, but hey ho. Unfortunately, when you’re sat on the backseat, the XE feels like a small car and the boot is a bit of a letdown. 

Our Rating:

9. Audi A4 Saloon

RRP: £30,165 - £52,540
  • Doors: 4
  • Engine: 4.2
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 322g/km

Pros

  • Great quality design and materials.

  • Super practical with low running costs. 

Cons

  • None of the trims come with full leather seats as standard.

  • Seat lumbar support is not available on lower trims.

The A4 is one of the only cars on this list with a front-wheel drive, but for everyday driving, this car is still a stunner. The only time you really feel that’s it hasn’t got rear-wheel drive is when you exit a corner and floor the gas. If you’re bothered - the upgraded quattro model boasts a powerful all-wheel-drive.

The visibility in the A4 is good and the drive is extremely comfortable, thanks to an excellent suspension system. 

All trims come with a 12.2” infotainment system, Bluetooth, Audi virtual cockpit, parking sensors, the Audi click-wheel, dim headlamps - basically, everything you could ever want. 

The quality of materials used in the A4 is exemplary. Everything is simple, easy to use, and just looks damn good. And for space and practicality, you’re spoiled in this A4 Saloon. The backseats are roomy and the boot is impressive. This is perhaps the most practical saloon on the market.   

Our Rating:

10. Maserati Ghibli

RRP: £54,155 - £101,660
  • Doors: 4
  • Engine: 3.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive: A
  • CO2: 257g/km

Pros

  • Fun to drive.

  • It’s a big bold status symbol.

Cons

  • Space on the backseat.

  • Repairs can add up quickly and if you’re using an unauthorised mechanic - the value will suffer cliff-face depreciation.

How many of your friends and colleagues drive a Maserati? No-one? That’s what I thought. With the keys to your own Ghibli, you are punching above the pack instantly. With a bold design, elegantly delivered - you’ll be turning heads on the road. 

The Ghibli is Maserati's first Diesel and although boasting a powerful engine that is heaps of fun to drive, the rival exec saloons have much quieter and smoother engines. With one of the best auto-gearboxes on the market and an aerodynamic chassis, you’re guaranteed fun on the road! The V6 engine on the entry-level Ghibli has a flaming 275HP!

If you’re after a relatively practical executive car, then the Ghibli doesn’t match the job description. However, if you’re after a powerful drive that makes a bold statement and is built on craftsmanship - then look no further!

4/5

Summary

Executive cars need to be luxurious, comfortable to drive and make you stand out from the crowd. If you spend a lot of time driving for work, it’s important that you do so in a reliable car that you love. 

While they’re expensive to buy new, leasing lets you pay a lower monthly price to drive one of the best cars on the planet. 

Convinced you want a saloon but like driving small cars? Have a glance at our best compact saloons. And for a snazzy set of wheels for work, look at our best company cars and our full list of executive car lease deals.