The 10 best used executive cars
What's the best used executive car for you? Our handy guide to the 10 best on the UK market will help you decide.....
Is there a tougher place in which to compete than the market for used executive cars?
Almost certainly not. With standards incredibly high thanks to years of continuous development by manufacturers such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes, and increasingly stringent demands from buyers of these saloons and large hatchbacks, 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 also benefit from this ceaseless drive for improvement. At just a few years old, all that fantastic new technology, not to mention the smart looks, comfort, sharp drive and everyday usability, start to become available for very reasonable prices.
But which is the best used executive car to buy? Here’s a round-up of our top 10 to help you decide:
10: Vauxhall Insignia
No top 10 car list would be complete without a Vauxhall on it, and the Insignia gets its place on the strengths of its low-price, high level of equipment and sheer size.
It really is one of the most accommodating cars on this list and the boot is vast. And because it's a hatchback, you won't struggle to fit bigger items into an Insignia compared with more traditional rivals that have a smaller boot opening.
10: Vauxhall Insignia - interior
To drive, the Insignia is better suited to motorway work, where the low levels of road and wind noise make it a relaxing experience, but it isn't the sort of car that revels in going for a B-road blast.
The interior, meanwhile, is solid but a tad uninspiring. Still, you get a lot of car for the money, and that's why it deserves a place on our top 10 list.
We found: 2018 Vauxhall Insignia 1.6 Turbo D  SRi Nav, 17,510 miles, £13,298
9: Audi A5 Sportback
Styish, 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.
Like the Vauxhall Insignia, it has a hatchback tailgate that's more practical when it comes to loading taller items in the back.
9: Audi A5 Sportback - interior
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 look of the A5 Sportback. Watch out for a firm ride on S-line models with big wheels and sports suspension.
We found: 2016 Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI Ultra SE Technik, 31,527 miles, £14,882
8: Mazda 6
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.
8: Mazda 6 - interior
True, you have to put up with a firm ride in some versions, so it’s worth a test drive to check you can live with that. Otherwise, if you want a smart executive car that shouldn’t break down, the 6 ticks those boxes.
We found: 2017 Mazda 6 2.2d SE-L Nav, 19,254 miles, £13,562
7: Alfa Romeo Giulia
Few executive cars look quite as slinky or drive quite as well as the Alfa Romeo Giulia.
It’s actually very comfortable, too, especially models with adaptive suspension, because you can set the steering, throttle response and engine in Sport mode but slacken off the dampers to cope better with rough roads.
7: Alfa Romeo Giulia - interior
That sweeping roofline makes head room for rear seat passengers a bit tight, but on the plus side, you get plenty of equipment and a punchy yet efficient range of engines.
What's more, Alfa Romeo seems to have cracked reliability with this model, according to our latest What Car? Reliability Survey; the Giulia finished near the top of the executive car class.
We found: 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.2 JTDM Super auto, 9922 miles, £18,499
6: Volkswagen Passat
You might argue that the Volkswagen Passat isn’t as exciting as some of the other cars here. You’d be right. Nevertheless, it is a fantastic all-rounder, blending comfort and efficiency with handling that’s pleasant enough and an interior that's delightfully classy.
There’s plenty of room for everyone, too, and a capacious boot; it even looks good, and prices are reasonable.
6: Volkswagen Passat - interior
What’s the catch? Well, reliability is tricky to predict, because some expensive engine faults have been reported, and the DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox can be costly to fix if it goes wrong.
We found: 2018 Volkswagen Passat 1.6 TDI SE Business, 20,237 miles, £13,298
5: Ford Mondeo
You might not think of a Ford Mondeo as an executive car, but with plenty of high-specification examples around and handling to match the best in the class, it certainly qualifies.
5: Ford Mondeo - interior
Throw in a comfortable ride, a massive boot, decent reliability and bargain prices and it isn’t hard to convince yourself that you need a used Mondeo in your life. It’s just a shame its interior feels a little tacky in places; that's one of the few downsides.
We found: 2018 Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 140 Zetec, 20,494 miles, £14,699
4: Audi A3 Saloon
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 A3s.
4: Audi A3 Saloon - interior
What’s more, those diminutive dimensions make it one of the easiest cars on our list to drive and park. If you can afford it and don't need the extra space, then, the A3 makes for a fantastic executive saloon.
We found: 2017 Audi A3 1.6 TDI Sport S tronic, 18,000 miles, £14,995
3: BMW 3 Series
The BMW 3 Series is great to drive and is available with a wide selection of superb engines that are extremely efficient.
What’s more, it’s spacious enough for the average family and most versions are very comfortable. It’s even priced pretty reasonably.
3: BMW 3 Series - interior
Just watch out for a couple of reliability faults that, while they don’t affect every car, can be very expensive to fix if you’re unlucky.
We found: 2017 BMW 3 Series 320d SE, 8849 miles, £15,556
2: Audi A4
Possibly the classiest car here, the Audi A4 continues to live up to its award-winning reputation (it was our 2016 What Car? Car of the Year) and is still one the best executive cars you can buy, new or used.
It isn’t as lively to drive as the BMW 3 Series, but it has a comfortable ride (as long as you avoid big wheels on S-line models), a well-built interior and plenty of desirable equipment.
2: Audi A4 - interior
For similar money to our favourite used executive car, you'll only get a high-mileage diesel, but you will be able to get the perky 1.4-litre petrol with fewer miles covered and in our preferred Sport specification.
We found: 2017 Audi A4 1.4 TFSI Sport, 22,000 miles, £12,995
1: Skoda Superb
The clue is in the name, it would seem, because the Skoda Superb is the best used executive car you can currently buy.
It’s good to drive, can be found with a wide selection of superb (pardon the pun) engines and is extremely efficient – especially in 1.6-litre Greenline form.
1: Skoda Superb - interior
What’s more, it’s spacious enough to moonlight as a limousine and every versions is extremely comfortable. For the money, there's nothing to touch the all-round capabilities of the Skoda Superb.
We found: 2017 Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI SE Technology auto, 23,989 miles, £14,000
There we have the 10 best used executive cars you can buy. But what about those you should avoid...?
This Suzuki saloon is anonymous to drive, only available with a thirsty petrol engine and sports Japanese acquired styling.
Suzuki Kizashi - interior
Best left alone.
Its handsome looks might tempt you, but the Infiniti Q50 is thirsty, noisy and odd to drive, due to its vague steering.
Infiniti Q50 - interior
And despite all of that, it doesn’t come cheap.