There was a time when an executive car was one thing and one thing alone – a well-appointed saloon that offered high levels of standard equipment and a sumptuous interior.
But as the car market has evolved, so has the definition of a luxury car, with saloons, estates, coupes and SUVs all making a case for consideration in the competitive fleet and owner-driver markets.
Here are our 10 favourite executive models on the market in 2018.
The latest GS remains a leftfield choice but is nevertheless an interesting companion and one that will stand out from the more familiar models in the company car park. Plus, both the 300h and 450h models are hybrids, meaning they benefit from tax breaks and improved performance and economy.
It only just scrapes under the price barrier, but the Ghibli is arguably the most beautiful car you can buy for less than £50k, and makes for a brilliant choice of affordable luxury car if you’re brave enough to break from the norm and buy Italian. In fairness, it’s reliability record so far has been great.
Part coupe, part-SUV, the X4 is the latest addition to the BMW 4-Series family and combines sleek, low-slung body styling with a chunky raised ride height. As the market evolves and moves more and more towards crossovers and SUVs, it’s no surprise that the sports-SUV has rapidly become one of BMW’s best-selling models.
Range Rover Velar
The ‘big’ Range Rover has become a victim of its own success, meaning it’s now an exclusive car, especially for the super-rich. And with JLR widening the gap between its Range Rover and Land Rover model ranges, the Velar is there to fill the gap – smaller and sleeker than the Range Rover and Sport models, it has become an instant hit.
The X5 started out as BMW’s first tentative footstep into the SUV market almost 20 years ago, and has evolved to become one of the brand’s staple models – and the current incarnation is bigger and more luxurious than ever. Go for one of the twin turbo 4.0-litre diesel models and the prodigious torque and amazing performance mark it out as one of the best SUVs in the world.
The latest A6 is a fine evolution of the brand’s executive mid-sizer, with both saloon and stylish ‘Avant’ models on offer. Of the two, it’s the Avant that’s the most interesting. The A6 range is brimming with tech and driver assistance features, while the trim and engine range is vast – though some diesel models are delayed.
The second-generation XF, introduced in 2015, is a huge leap forward from its predecessor, which was a fine car to drive but was also fairly traditional. The latest model is brimming with tech and looks like a scaled-down XJ, while the cabin is a stunning mix of modern and traditional. It’s our pick of the Jaguar saloon car range.
The current E-Class is a fine car – handsome and elegant at the same time, and with a unique combination of super modern technology and traditional features. Available as a saloon, estate, convertible or coupe, the model range is vast, and there’s not a bad car in there. Our favourite, though, is the E350e plug-in hybrid.
Launched in 2016, the S90 was Volvo’s signal that it was serious about competing with the big brands in the executive car sector. With a stunning, spacious and modern interior, twin-engine hybrid models, exceptional build and striking good looks, the S90 was the best executed Volvo in years and set the brand towards the success it’s enjoying today.
There are great executive cars and there are legendary ones, and the BMW 5-Series is the latter. Ever since the first 5-Series appeared 45 years ago, it has set the benchmark for desirability in the executive class, and it continues to do so. The Touring estate is stunning, while the 530e iPerformance plug-in is arguably the best hybrid in its class.