Top ten: Mid-size executive cars

Top ten: Mid-size executive cars
Top ten: Mid-size executive cars

Where should executives with reputations to uphold put their money?

Executive cars are class acts. They may well spend most of their lives flying up and down the motorway, but the best still manage to combine a cosseting ride quality with engaging handing for when they turn off it.

They generally show the finest quality, the most impressive economy, the best refinement – and the leaders all combine this with a good old-fashioned slice of premium badge envy for good measure. But which are the best of all? Here’s our pick of the executive car sector.

1. BMW 5 Series

The latest BMW 5 Series is a brilliant all-rounder that’s the best executive car you can buy right now. It does little wrong, offering great quality, perfect comfort and, above all, an engaging drive. On the motorway, it’s comfortable and refined, but when you find twistier and more challenging roads, it delivers the goods there too. Overall, it’s a car that’s hard to fault, and certainly hard to beat.

2. Jaguar XF

The latest Jaguar XF is a cracking driver’s car. It has handling more akin to a sports car, but manages to combine this with an excellent ride quality as well. The only weak point for the driver is its rattly four-cylinder Ingenium diesel engines. It’s well-built inside, and just about spacious enough for five, while equipment levels are strong as well. Overall, if it had a better range of engines, it would definitely vie with the BMW for our number one exec choice…

3. Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The latest Mercedes-Benz E-Class is like a downsized S-Class. It delivers tremendous levels of luxury and refinement, making high mileages as painless as can be. We like the impressive new 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, which is efficient and pacy, and although it doesn’t deliver the thrills of a Jag, it’s still capable enough when the roads get twisty. Equipment levels are not as mean as Mercs used to be, either.

4. Volvo S90

Volvo has jumped up the rankings with the latest S90 saloon. It looks great, and comes very well equipped even in basic guise. And the safety record is second to none in this sector. Inside, it’s spacious and stylish, and although the comfort-focused drive doesn’t quite serve up the sensations of a BMW or Jaguar, it’s the perfect partner for long motorway hauls.

5. Audi A6

A popular executive car, the Audi A6 is getting on a bit these days, but it still serves as a decent package for those seeking a fine all-rounder. Diesel engines are refined, it’s spacious inside and Audi gives a decent haul of standard equipment. What lets it down is its so-so drive – handling lacks feedback and the ride quality on popular S-line models is crashy and harsh.

6. Lexus GS

Lexus takes a different approach to the executive car sector – it doesn’t offer a diesel, preferring instead to focus on petrol-electric hybrids. Not everyone likes them, particularly those who cover high motorway miles, but the benefits are found in town. It’s very refined and well equipped, although the infotainment system is a real weakness, as it’s hard to use and lacks the functionality of its German rivals.

7. Skoda Superb

The humungous Skoda Superb is the most practical executive car of all. It’s simply cavernous inside, with a tremendous amount of space for both rear seat passengers and all their luggage. Everyone’s treated to lots of equipment and refinement too. It’s a bargain buy as well, although the flipside of this is a lack of the all-important badge prestige. Those seeking ultimate value for money won’t mind, but more image-conscious execs might…

8. Maserati Ghibli

Wearing the most exotic car badge of all here, the Maserati Ghibli is a svelte four-door executive Ferrari, particularly if you pick the top-line V6 S model. But you have to suffer for your art. The cabin isn’t that well-built, standard equipment isn’t great and the drive is not as engaging as the best models here. Focus on the Ferrari links instead…

9. Infiniti Q70

The dated Infiniti Q70 is certainly far from being the best car in this list, but it still looks pretty stylish and there’s no faulting the amount of space you get inside for the money. What lets it down is its sheer age, which shows up in its lacklustre ride and handling and, above all, its weak engines. Buyers in this sector choose four-cylinder diesels above all, and as this is the real weak point in the Q70 range, it’s hard to recommend.

10. Hyundai Genesis

A £50,000 Hyundai might be a step too far for some, but the Genesis lives up to it with a comfortable ride, impressive refinement and a huge amount of standard equipment. You can add to this the sort of exclusivity you normally associate with a Rolls-Royce. This is a very rare sight indeed in the UK which, for those who don’t want to join the masses who drive a BMW 5 Series, might be appeal in itself…

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