What Car? Used Car of the Year - Executive car

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  • UK's best used cars
  • Nine categories covered
  • The full results here
BMW 520d SE
Year '06/06
Price £15,000

The 5 Series is another one of this year's winners that has the competition well and truly mastered.

It's popular with company car drivers and fleet companies, so there are plenty around, yet it's still desirable.

It's great to drive, has an impressive reputation for reliability and, with its efficient diesel engine, doesn't cost too much to run.

It's also comfortable – the ride is excellent at all speeds, as long as you choose the standard suspension; cars with the optional sports set-up are best avoided, because they're overly firm on most British roads.

The Five's cabin is superbly made and has bags of style. There's not much wind or road noise, and rear-seat passengers have lots of legroom. The boot is big and easy to load, too.

Judge's view
Name Duncan McClure Fisher
Job Managing Director, Warranty Direct
Verdict: 'The 5 Series is one of the most reliable executive cars you can buy, and the 520d is powerful, yet sits in a low tax band thanks to its economical engine. You're also cosseted in great refinement and comfort.'
Buy an SE and you'll live the good life – it comes with climate and cruise controls, electrically adjustable seats, stability control and parking sensors.

A leather interior and metallic paint are desirable features, while the optional sat-nav system is nice to have – just don't pay over the odds for it.

A six-speed manual gearbox was standard on the 520d, but there are plenty of automatic versions on the market if you prefer.

You may be tempted by the 525d, because it's usually well priced on the used market. Although it's more powerful, the engine isn't as refined as you'd expect.

Smoother and more efficient 520ds sold from September '07 onwards are available, but these are much dearer than our favourite here.

Buyer's Guide
Power 158bhp Fuel Economy 55.4mpg (average) 0-60mph/Max 8.9sec/135mph Insurance Group 15 CO2 emissions 162g/km Road tax £150 a year Euro NCAP Rating 4 stars Reliability Rating 4 stars Service Intervals Variable


Runners-up
Jaguar XJ 3.0 SE
Year '04/04
Price £10,000
Old-school style, complete with real wood veneer and loads of leather, but at a bargain price.
Volkswagen Phaeton 3.2 V6
Year '04/54
Price £11,200
This luxury Volkswagen is rare, but comes very well equipped and is supremely refined.
Audi A8 3.0 TDI SE
Year '05/05
Price £14,000
The A8 is big, sophisticated, beautifully refined and comes with an economical diesel engine.
Mercedes-Benz CLS 320 CDI
Year '05/05
Price £19,000
This sleek executive can seat four people in comfort, yet still manages to look sporty and elegant.



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