When it comes to a rock-solid premium image, there’s little to beat a Merc. After all, who doesn’t want to ride behind that famous three-pointed star? The C-Class has actually always been up against stiff opposition in the executive car class, but its comfort and relaxed driving experience, not to mention the air of dependability, have won it many admirers on both the new and used car markets.
We found 2008 C180 SE, 75,000 miles, full service history, £4995
3. BMW 3 Series
If you were asked to pick the archetypal compact executive saloon, the 3 Series would be it. It is, in fact, the car that has defined the class for years. Why has it been so successful? Because it drives beautifully, is lovely to be in, is economical to run and has an upmarket and sporty image. It’s also well equipped in most forms and reliable in long-term use. Such popularity means it isn’t always cheap, but you do get what you pay for.
We found: 2007 318i SE, 73,000 miles, full service history, £4465
2. Ford Mondeo
Sometimes, in the course of a long life, a particular generation of car will hit the sweet spot. Such is the case with this third-generation Mondeo, which is practically faultless in the way it tackles roads both major and minor. A quiet motorway cruiser, it is also a nimble and downright fun car in which to attack country lanes, as well as being an immensely spacious and comfortable family load lugger. It’s reliable and cheap to run, too.
We found 2009 1.8 TDCi Zetec, 65,000 miles, full service history, £4795