Here’s our list of favourites if you’re after an executive saloon
For many years, the large executive saloon was the company car holy grail, its blend of size and status telegraphing your successful ascent of the corporate ladder. Yet the arrival of numerous niche models as well as the huge success of the SUV has meant these machines don’t quite have the allure they once did.
However, put your rational business hat on and you’ll find these sober-suited saloons make plenty of sense. They still look the part plus, more often than not, they drive well, many of them even boasting that firm favourite of keen drivers, rear-wheel drive. Better still, because they tend to feature lower asking prices and CO2 emissions than their SUV stablemates, they’ll save you a bundle in benefit-in-kind (BIK) bills. So here, in alphabetical order, are our top 10 executive car picks for company car drivers.
A6 50 TFSIe Sport Quattro: Like the Volvo S90 (see below), the Audi A6 isn’t the greatest of entertainers, but its blend of hushed refinement, sharp design and an interior dripping in cutting edge tech still gives it plenty of boardroom bragging rights. As you’d expect it’s the plug-in variants that make the most sense for company car drivers. Following the demise of the V6-powered 55TFSIe versions, all models are now powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder mated to an electric motor that can carry you for 43 miles in zero emissions mode. With both power sources working together these 50TFSIe models deliver a decent 295bhp, which is as much as you’ll likely ever, plus an impressively low BiK rating of just 8%.
530e SE: Few cars have held sway in the company car pecking order quite as convincingly as the 5 Series. For decades, the big BMW has been the top choice for go-getting executives who want to dress to impress. Yet with its engaging rear-drive handling and a range of engines that blend power and efficiency, the Bavarian big shot is great to drive, too.
With a BIK rating of 12%, the plug-in hybrid 530e and 545e are the most cost-effective versions, especially in well-equipped SE guise, but don’t rule out the all-round talents of the 520d. The spacious saloon looks the part, but the versatile Touring estate costs only a few pounds more in tax.
G80 2.2D Premium Line: Hyundai’s high-flying premium sub-brand has been big business in the US for years, but this is the first time it has tried to crack Europe. It’s not a bad debut effort, either. The big Korean machine majors on comfort and refinement, with a supple ride and vault-like isolation from the outside world.
However, as a company car, it’s somewhat hobbled by a limited choice of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines that feature no electrification. That said, keen prices mean the lavishly equipped 2.2D Premium Line will cost higher-rate earners £5454 in tax at a 37% BIK rate, compared with £5502 for the 30%-rated BMW 520d M Sport. And if you’re ready to go all-electric, then the Electrified G80 is about to land in showrooms with a 323 mile claimed range and attracting just 2% BIK.
XF D200 R-Dynamic S: Despite leading the EV charge with its Jaguar I-Pace, Jaguar has been slightly slower on the electrification uptake with its other models, including the handsome XF. Its 2.0-litre petrol and diesel units do now benefit from mild-hybrid assistance, but there’s no plug-in version. As a result, business users will pay more in tax, with even the most cost-efficient D200 R-Dynamic S attracting a BIK rate of 31%.
However, by significantly lowering prices, Jaguar has ensured that a lower-rate earner will pay just over £2000 in tax, which is around £300 less than for a BMW 520d SE. In return, you’ll get a stylish saloon that packs brilliantly fluid handling and a cosseting ride. It also has one of the best cabins in the business, melding the latest tech with a club class ambience.
ES 300h Premium Edition: The forgotten four-door contender from the executive saloon set, the Lexus ES isn’t without its charms, especially if you value impeccable build quality and epic low-speed refinement above all else. It looks distinctive, too, and the lavishly appointed interior offers supreme comfort.
It’s uninspiring to drive, but the 215bhp 2.5-litre petrol-electric powertrain is smooth and on a par with four-cylinder diesel rivals for efficiency and tax-friendliness, with a BIK rating of 29%. The standard car is the most cost-effective, but we’d sacrifice a little more of our salary for the Premium Edition with its larger, 12.3in infotainment screen, which makes life easier on the road.
E300e AMG Line: Long-time sparring partner of the BMW 5 Series, the E-Class takes a more mature approach to its executive express duties. It’s not as involving as the 5 Series, but the trade-off is a plusher ride, even lower noise levels and an even more upmarket ambience inside.
Again, the plug-in hybrid makes the most sense for business users, but the Merc offers a twist in that you can have diesel or petrol versions of it. Both fall into the 12% bracket, will run 30 miles in EV mode and cost much the same in tax, spec for spec, but we’d plump for the smooth punchy 316bhp E300e in lavishly appointed AMG Line trim.
Superb iV 1.4 TSI PHEV SE Technology: You might think the Skoda would be out of its depth compared with the premium-branded rivals that fill the rest of this list, but the Superb can easily hold its own. It not only looks smart, but it also feels classy and solidly built inside, where you’ll find more space than any other car in our top 10.
It’s good to drive as well, with grippy and precise handling plus a controlled ride, especially on the optional adaptive dampers. The 2.0 TDI SE Technology is worth a shout if you don’t have easy access to an electric charger, but for most, the plug-in iV models make the best financial sense. Rated at 12% for BIK, it packs 215bhp and a 34-mile EV range, and it will cost lower-rate earners £904 in tax compared with £1923 for the diesel fitted with the same DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox.
Model S Long Range: The pioneering electric luxury saloon has benefitted from a raft of improvements recently, including a classier and more robust-feeling interior. Crucially, the Long Range version will now crack 405 miles on a single charge and, as with all Teslas, you have access to the brand’s Supercharger network.
A seven-seat option delivers something no other car on this list can manage and, because it’s rated at just 2%, your BIK bills will be lower than for a city car. Of course, there’s the small matter of the £95,980 list price (you’ll need a very understanding and generous fleet manager) and its lifeless handling means that once you’ve got over the blistering acceleration, there’s not much to keep a keen driver entertained.
S90 Plus T8 Recharge: Volvo has stolen a march on its premium rivals by offering its flagship saloon as a plug-in hybrid only. It’s also upped the car’s battery size to 18.8kWh and added a more powerful 141bhp electric motor to complement the twin-charged 2.0-litre petrol, the S90 T8 Recharge now packs 445bhp, yet its BIK rating is just 8% thanks to CO2 emissions of only 19g/km and an EV range of over 50 miles.
This sybaritic Swede is still more a hushed long-distance cruiser than balletic back-road entertainer but it’s hugely comfortable and, and in entry-level PLus guise, will cost higher-rate earners just £2016 in annual tax.
Arteon 1.4 TFSIe R-Line: Effectively a Skoda Superb in a designer suit, the rakish Arteon doesn’t lack anything in kerb appeal compared with more expensive models here. Better still, a recent facelift saw the addition of the same 1.4-litre petrol-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain as the Skoda, making it an even more appealing choice for user-choosers on a tight budget.
The VW favours comfort over blood-pumping handling elan, but with 215bhp, it’s brisk enough, plus it’ll travel up to 37 miles in EV mode and is rated at 12% for BIK. Elegance trim has all the kit, but R-Line is just as well equipped yet looks more seductive and, with a salary sacrifice of £1059, is just £22 more expensive for lower-rate taxpayers.