Autotrader ad desktop
sponsored

In partnership with Autotrader

Top 10 used executive cars (and one to avoid)

For those in need of an executive car, here are your top 10 best options from the used market, as well as a model to steer away from...

Author Avatar
by
Oliver Young
Published19 August 2023

Best used executive cars

Traditional executive cars are still immensely popular with the buying public, despite the huge rise in the popularity of SUVs. After all, with standards in this class incredibly high, thanks to years of continuous development by manufacturers such as Audi and BMW, among others, any executive car has to be at the top of its game if it’s to be a worthwhile purchase.

Fortunately, buyers of used executive cars can also benefit from these high standards. At just a few years old, all that fantastic technology, not to mention the smart looks, comfort, driver appeal and everyday usability, start to become available for very reasonable prices.

But what are the best used executive car out there? Here’s a round-up of our top 10 to help you decide.

Our pick: 330e M Sport 4dr Step Auto

0-62mph: 5.8 sec
MPG/range: 188.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 31g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 375 litres
Insurance group: 34E

Strengths

  • Great fun to drive
  • Sharp steering and superb body control
  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Well equipped

Weaknesses

  • Interior not as well finished as Audi A4
  • Lumbar support was an expensive extra
  • Rather firm ride, especially on M Sport models

Our number one pick, the BMW 3 Series is great to drive and available with a wide selection of superb engines that are extremely efficient. It's supremely competent and wonderfully classy. What’s more, it’s spacious enough for the average family and most versions are very comfortable. Used versions of this latest-generation car have now dipped below the £20,000 mark, making it all the more enticing than it already was.  

We found: 2019 BMW 3 Series 320i SE, 43,190 miles, £19,900

Find used BMW 3 Series cars for sale 

Strengths

  • Class-leading interior
  • Extensive engine choice
  • Very comfortable

Weaknesses

  • One or two rivals are more fun to drive
  • S line ride quality a bit firm
  • Ultra version uses S Line sports suspension

Possibly the classiest car here, the Audi A4 continues to live up to its award-winning reputation and is still one the best executive cars you can buy. It isn’t as lively to drive as the 3 Series, but it still impresses on the road and is good fun – it's wonderfully refined, too. It also has a comfortable ride (as long as you avoid big wheels on S line models), a well-built interior and loads of desirable equipment. The A4 is a fantastic all-rounder. 

We found: 2019 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI SE, 31,008 miles, £18,494

Find used Audi A4 cars for sale 

Strengths

  • Vast interior and boot
  • Good value for money used
  • High-quality materials

Weaknesses

  • Some rivals are more fun to drive
  • Diesel engines are occasionally gruff
  • 2.0-litre petrols are quick, but rather thirsty

The clue is in the name, it would seem. The Superb is good to drive, can be found with a wide selection of engines and is extremely efficient. What’s more, it’s spacious enough to moonlight as a limousine and every version is extremely comfortable. For the money, there's almost nothing to touch the all-round capabilities of the Skoda Superb

We found: 2019 Skoda Superb 1.5 TSI SE, 34,320 miles, £14,722

Find used Skoda Superb cars for sale 

Strengths

  • Spacious and comfortable interior
  • Classy and refined
  • Well equipped in higher trims

Weaknesses

  • Low-speed ride can be firm
  • Boot opening not as versatile as a hatchback's

The VW Passat is a fantastic all-rounder, blending comfort and efficiency with handling that’s both enjoyable and safe and an interior that's delightfully classy. There’s plenty of room for everyone, too, and a capacious boot; it even looks good, and used prices are really competitive. Reliability is another strong point in this impressive car's favour. 

We found: 2019 Volkswagen Passat 1.5 TSI S, 34,261 miles, £14,998

Find used Volkswagen Passat cars for sale 

Strengths

  • Tremendous performance
  • Long range
  • Surprisingly practical

Weaknesses

  • Build quality could be better
  • Ride and handling not up to top ICE rivals

The only fully electric car on our list, but the Tesla Model 3 is a great proposition if it fits into your lifestyle. It's good to drive and well equipped, and even the Standard Plus model, which will be the cheapest used buy, is WLTP-certified for a claimed range on a full charge of up to 254 miles, or 267 miles for the post-2020 facelifted version. It'll also see off the 0-60mph dash in just 6.1sec, and do it all in a hushed, smooth and suave manner. 

We found: 2020 Tesla Model 3 Standard Plus, 27,003 miles, £24,698

Find used Tesla Model 3 cars for sale 

Our pick: 35 TFSI Sport 4dr

0-62mph: 8.7 sec
MPG/range: 50.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 128g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 425 litres
Insurance group: 20E

Strengths

  • Powerful and efficient engines
  • Excellent blend of comfort and agility
  • Classy interior

Weaknesses

  • Rear-seat space limited
  • Boot not huge
  • Firm low-speed ride on some models

It’s rather small by comparison with its rivals here, and consequently, it’s tight on space in the boot and rear seats, but the Audi A3’s fantastic combination of comfort, efficiency and agility might make it worth the sacrifice. And, of course, you get the same fabulous interior you do in all of these 2013-2020 A3s. What’s more, those diminutive dimensions make it one of the easiest cars on our list to drive around town and park. If you don't need the extra space, it makes for a fantastic executive saloon.

We found: 2018 Audi A3 1.5 TFSI Sport, 52,179 miles, £14,000

Find used Audi A3 cars for sale 

Strengths

  • Keen handling
  • Well equipped
  • Surprisingly low prices

Weaknesses

  • Rivals offer more space
  • Interior build quality
  • Running costs can be high

This suave four-door ticks many desirable boxes. It features a traditional rear-wheel-drive layout, plenty of driver appeal, plus all the style and equipment buyers could want. It’s refined on the motorways and the ride is comfortable. True, there are others that are better finished inside and more spacious, but none handle as sweetly - if you’re after a sporty executive saloon look no further. 

We found: 2020 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport, 25,000 miles, £20,995

Find used Jaguar XE cars for sale 

Our pick: 2.0 Turbo Veloce 4dr Auto

0-62mph: 5.7 sec
MPG/range: 38.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 167g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 480 litres
Insurance group: 34E

Strengths

  • Good to drive
  • Well equipped
  • Strong performance

Weaknesses

  • Awkward boot opening
  • Disappointing interior quality
  • Rear seat space

Few executive cars look quite as slinky or drive quite as well as the Alfa Romeo Giulia. It’s actually very comfortable, too, with a supple ride in most versions, and you'll get plenty of equipment. All versions come with a punchy yet efficient range of engines. But it's its quick steering and eager handling that'll please the keen driver here. Few others in our top 10 can match it.  

We found: 2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0T Veloce, 41,274 miles, £22,990

Find used Alfa Romeo Giulia cars for sale 

Strengths

  • Impressive fuel economy
  • Strong but quiet diesel engine
  • Excellent infotainment system

Weaknesses

  • Firm low-speed ride
  • Not as much fun to drive as some rivals
  • Rear head room for taller passengers

Reliability and quality are the hallmarks of the Mazda 6; it feels beautifully built inside and has a great reputation for long service and dependability. But it isn’t a one-trick pony; it’s also great to drive, with sharp responses and punchy engines, and it’s remarkably fuel efficient. If you want a smart executive car that shouldn’t let you down, the 6 ticks those boxes.

We found: 2019 Mazda 6 2.0 SE-L Nav+, 30,000 miles, £14,999

Find used Mazda 6 cars for sale 

Our pick: 35 TDI Sport 5dr S Tronic

0-62mph: 8.4 sec
MPG/range: 57.6mpg
CO2 emissions: 127g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 465 litres
Insurance group: 31E

Strengths

  • Class-leading interior quality
  • Powerful and efficient engines
  • Practical for a four-door coupe

Weaknesses

  • Not as involving to drive as some rivals
  • Rivals have more kit as standard
  • Reliability average

Stylish, efficient and classy: the Audi A5 Sportback is ideal for those who hanker after all the looks of a coupé but need some of the additional practicality of an executive car. Rear occupants won't have quite as much room to stretch out in compared with the regular Audi A4, but that's the sacrifice you have to make for the sleeker looks. Watch out for a firm ride on S line models with the sports suspension. 

We found: 2019 Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TFSI 35 Sport, 23,944 miles, £21,995

Find used Audi A5 cars for sale 

Infiniti Q50

The Infiniti Q50 is thirsty, noisy and odd to drive, due to its vague steering. And, despite all of that, it isn't a bargain. Read our review