A good, luxury saloon is a treat to drive. They are responsive, powerful, and best of all, comfortable. As a driver, you’re surrounded by a refined interior that is elegant, but well equipped. You’ve got the best modern equipment balanced with leather and wood finishes. They are the BMWs, the Mercedes and the Audis of the motoring world. They make up most of our motorway traffic and account for about 75% of all company cars. They are the executive, luxury saloons.

These cars are practical, spacious and perfect for the family. However, most of them come equipped with a high-performance engine too. Petrolheads fear not, there is a spark of excitement hiding in each and every one. Yet they also have fantastic environmental standards as they compete to be the best company car. It’s one of the most competitive sectors of our auto market. These models are desirable, stylish and enviable. But, which is the very best?

85 Counting Down The Best Luxury Executive Saloons

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1. BMW 3 Series

Critics unanimously agree that the BMW 3 Series is the pick of the bunch. It brings together the perfect balance of style, sophistication and practicality. Perhaps more importantly, it has a sense of excitement and adventure too. It’s an element that is too often compromised in the executive market. The focus is on ride comfort and refinement. It’s a treat to see a car that still leaps off the line like a pouncing tiger and handles like a dream. BMW have just announced the next iteration of the 3 Series which will hit the market in July. It will feature an engine upgrade and a facelift. It might well pull even further ahead of the market.

2. Mercedes C-Class

The competition for the best executive car has always been a three-horse race. The German manufacturing giants of BMW, Mercedes and Audi have fought valiantly for years. Mercedes have always been strong contenders. As you can see at motorlinedirect.co.uk, even a secondhand Merc will outperform half the cars on this list! The most recent C-Class is considered one of the most technologically advanced cars on the planet. It features smart cruise control that will follow the car ahead. It also has a driver drowsiness sensor and will pull the car back into the correct lane if it drifts.

3. Audi A4

It was a tightly fought contest for the second place spot, but ultimately the Audi remains in third. It has everything you could ask for in an executive saloon. There’s an abundance of space, and it comes well equipped as standard. The engine is clean, economical and powerful too. At the end of the day, it’s just not quite as fun as the BMW or technologically advanced as the Mercedes. Of course, if you’re willing to upgrade to the sportier RS, you’ll enjoy a lot more power and a lot more fun.

4. Lexus IS

Lexus is the luxury branch of Toyota with just one thing on its mind: luxury executive estates! Its raison d’etre is to top lists like this and outperform the German giants. It arrives with the reliability and peace of mind of the Japanese reputation. It is also immaculately equipped with a refined interior, and it’s stocked full of high tech equipment. There are two engine options here. The first is a powerful, noisy and exciting petrol engine. The second is an underwhelming, but incredibly economic, hybrid option. If Lexus lower their price tag, it just might start climbing the ladder.

86 Counting Down The Best Luxury Executive Saloons

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5. Jaguar XE

When it comes to luxury executive cars, it’s all about the badge. There’s a certain status symbol associated with these cars. And it doesn’t come any more luxurious than Jaguar. Jaguar’s legacy of luxury is something that none of the other cars on this list can match. The roaring Jaguar badge is irreplaceable. It’s not just a pretty face either. It performs well on the road, with low emissions and great fuel economy. It’s nippy and sporty and could well pose a threat to the BMW 3 Series and the C-Class. If we’re splitting hairs, it’s just a little less practical than its rivals with less room in the back.

6. Volkswagen Passat

It’s one of the cheaper cars on the list, but don’t take it for a bargain option. We think the Passat’s interior is the classiest of the bunch. It feels timeless and well equipped in a way that none of the others have matched. Volkswagen have also taken a pencil to the exterior and created a much more stylish design. Under the bonnet, there’s a decent engine too. It falls to sixth place simply because there’s no petrol or hybrid option; it’s all diesel here.

7. Volvo S60

Volvo are consistently referred to as manufacturers or reliable, safe cars. The S60 is no different, and those factors come into play here. Volvo recently produced the safest car on the planet, the V40. Those credentials also bleed into the S60. Unfortunately, it can’t match the leaders in engine performance or excitement. Having said that, it is very economical and comfortable to drive, especially on the motorway.

8. Maserati Ghibli

We’ll end the list on a wildcard entry. Maserati are known for their sheer speed, power and style in the sports car department. Can they make a reliable, practical saloon? Well, sort of! It’s bigger than most of the other cars here. It perhaps rivals the BMW 5 Series and the Audi A6 rather than the smaller saloons. The Ghibli also comes with a price tag that reflects that. It’s certainly the best looking car here, and the fastest. But, it often feels like a fish out of water in this refined, elegant category.

If you’re looking for a luxury executive car, you’re spoilt for choice. Any one of these models would be an excellent addition to your driveway. We’d love to hear from any owners of these cars and get your opinion. Let us know how you feel in the comments below!