Best cars for executives

Looking for a car to suit your status that doesn't cost the earth? Here are the best value luxury cars, grand SUVs and sleek coupes

Chris Rosamond
Nov 12, 2020

Working your way towards the top of the corporate ladder brings many rewards, and many challenges too. For example - when you’ve earned a space with your name on it in the company car park, your reputation could be made or lost by the car you leave there.

A desirable set of wheels is important if you don’t want to raise the eyebrows of your fellow execs - or worse still, those who work for you. In fact, the more desirable the better, which is where we come in with a range of savvy used car options that will maximise your image while minimising your expenditure.

The truth is that most cars these days should be able to last for decades, making second-hand purchases more attractive than ever. That’s even more true when talking about upmarket and luxury models, and not only because they’re built to the very highest quality standards.

Luxury cars typically live more cosseted lives, and they tend to have a more timeless design to them than budget models. That’s because expensive executive models are more costly to develop, so as a result, car companies normally have to make each generation last longer.

That means a ‘win win’ for execs with a decent budget who are prepared to consider nearly-new options or even a car that's a couple of years old. And if you're concerned about your colleagues realising that your car's not new, you can always put aside several hundred pounds from the thousands in change you get from going for a used car to buy yourself a private number plate that hides the age of the car.

Whether you’re looking for a swanky saloon, a commanding off-roader or something sporty in which to rack up the business miles, you’ll get lots more bang for your buck when a first owner has taken that big depreciation hit, getting many thousands less for the car than they bought it for, even if they only ran it for a year.

So check out our selection of best cars for executives below, before you start the search for your next set of wheels. Whet your appetite with desirable models from upmarket brands including Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes and Range Rover - all at prices that massively undercut the steep showroom list prices. All you need to worry about is not upstaging the chairman of the board.

Best cars for executives

1. BMW 7 Series

Used deals from £38,950
Monthly finance from £569

The largest BMW saloon is the 7 Series, which for years has been hailed as one of the most fun-to-drive luxury cars - perfect for those who want to look good behind the wheel but still enjoy the drive. This is a characteristic that pays homage to BMW’s name for creating sporty cars and one which makes the 7 Series a popular choice amongst high-salaried execs after luxury and performance.

Although the 7 Series has always been stuffed with technology as the BMW flagship, the model has usually been designed with a relatively conservative feel. However the current sixth-generation received a blingy facelift in 2019, featuring an enormous new grille that was designed to increase appeal in BMW’s Chinese showrooms. If that look doesn't appeal to you, fear not. Go for an earlier model and not only can you save yourself a bundle, but you can also get a much more handsome car in the process.

All the other BMW traditions remain, which means the 7 Series is still one of the best ways to cover long distances if you can’t borrow the company jet. There’s a selection of the latest-shape 7 Series models for sale on BuyaCar from less than £50,000 - much less than that if you're tempted by the more attractive earlier models.

BMW 7 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Mercedes CLS

Used deals from £15,495
Monthly finance from £258

Execs who prefer the three-pointed Mercedes star over BMW’s propeller-inspired roundel have plenty of ways to spend their company car cash, too. The E-Class and S-Class saloons have obvious luxury appeal, but one of our favourites is the more sleek Mercedes CLS.

It’s the car that set the tone for later rivals such as the Audi A7 and BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe, and in its latest guise it’s more elegant and stylish than ever. The downside of those curvy lines is an interior that’s not as practical as an E- or S-Class, but it’s plenty roomy enough for five to travel in comfort. And in the driver's seat you couldn't ask for more comfort.

There’s a wide range of engines in the CLS back catalogue, from economical diesels up to mighty AMG high-performance models. The third-generation car arrived in 2018, and you can get a low-mileage 350d from that year with for as little as £30,000 or around £400 per month on PCP finance - that’s for a car costing around £50,000 new.

MERCEDES CLS BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Jaguar XJ

Used deals from £21,991
Monthly finance from £372

While the biggest Jaguar saloon never quite managed to unseat German luxury rivals in the minds of most UK executive types, those drivers who opted to buy British will not have been disappointed. Fast, stylish, prestigious and exceptionally well-finished inside, the now relatively old XJ design may not offer quite the level of tech of its German rivals, but it’s still an immensely desirable motor. Especially when you consider how affordable it is.

You can no longer order a new Jaguar XJ, as the production line has been switched to cater for a new electric luxury model. This is no hardship, however, when you see just how inexpensive nearly new and used models are - if you like getting yourself a bargain, the XJ really is a fantastic upmarket choice.

Even relatively new 2019 3.0-litre diesel versions in racy R-Sport trim with as little as a couple of thousand miles on the clock are available from less than £40,000 - tens of thousands of pounds less than they would have cost new. A three-year-old model that has coverd 20,000 miles, meanwhile, could be yours for well under £30,000. If you're looking to finance your car, three-year old models are available from less than £400 per month on PCP finance - not much at all for such a large and luxurious machine.

JAGUAR XJ BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Range Rover

Used deals from £36,891
Monthly finance from £591

Another icon of the British establishment, the Range Rover offers levels of prestige and luxury that are fit for a queen – it’s long been a favourite of Her Majesty.

As a model that’s been around for years, there’s loads of choice with used Range Rovers. You can pick up a 2016 model with the 3.0-litre 'TDV6' diesel engine that has covered 40,000 miles for around £40,000 in luxurious Vogue SE trim. That’s not just a lot of car for your money, it’s also a model that will be virtually indistinguishable from a newer car - especially if you stick a ‘private’ registration plate on it.

Bump the budget to £45,000 or so, and you could get behind the wheel of a 2017 V8 petrol Vogue, but if you want anything newer you’ll be looking at more than £50,000 if you're paying cash. Of course you could always consider lowering your sights a little to the smaller Range Rover Sport, at which point a 2018 3.0-litre 'TDV6' diesel model should fall comfortably under £50,000.

Monthly payments with PCP finance start at around £650 per month for three-year old models, making this a surprisingly affordable way to put such a large and grand machine on the drive.

RANGE ROVER BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Volvo XC90

Used deals from £17,990
Monthly finance from £330

Not quite as ostentatious as a Range Rover, but nonetheless imposing, luxurious and serene to drive, the Volvo XC90 is one of the nicest ways to travel if you value comfort and luxury.

The latest version arrived in 2015, and although it’s been updated, the design has stayed largely unchanged. That’s entirely a good thing, as the XC90's clean exterior lines and swish Scandinavian style interior combine to create a truly upmarket and desirable feel.

The car is set up for relaxed cruising too, with light steering and a smooth ride, and there are petrol and diesel options as well as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that brings significant tax benefits to company drivers thanks to its low claimed emissions. Just make sure to charge it regularly to get any economy benefit from the hybrid tech.

The hybrid T8 model is pricey as a new car, and it will take around £45,000-£49,000 to get you behind the wheel of a one- or two-year-old version. If you choose the D5 diesel option, however, the entry-point for a 2018 XC90 drops to barely £30,000, or you could be driving one for less than £450 per month if you opt for PCP finance.

VOLVO XC90 BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Porsche Cayenne

Used deals from £32,059
Monthly finance from £470

The Porsche Cayenne turned preconceptions about SUVs upside down when it first arrived back in 2003, by looking like a tank, but driving like a sports car, but nowadays we’re used to outrageously fast road-focused 4x4s and SUVs that grip the road and steer like high-performance cars. The third-generation Cayenne arrived in the UK in 2018, and is currently offered with only petrol power after the diesel options were phased out.

Prices are predictably sky high for brand new models, with Cayennes ranging from £60,000 to almost £130,000 before customers hit the - very expensive - options list. You can save a packet by opting for the earlier generation Cayenne though, and to be fair, most non-Porsche enthusiasts will be hard-pressed to spot the differences on your executive express.

We have 2018 V6 diesel Cayennes on offer at around £42,000-£45,000, while we’ve seen 2016 and 2017 E-Hybrid PHEV versions crop up on BuyaCar from as little as £37,000. As always, such a desirable car can be surprisingly affordable on PCP finance, too, with the car's sheer appeal - meaning it'll be worth more than many similar cars if you hand it back at the end of the contract - resulting in lower monthly payments than the high cash prices would suggest.

PORSCHE CAYENNE BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Audi RS5

Used deals from £26,000
Monthly finance from £475

The Audi A5 coupe may be based on the (relatively) humble A4 saloon, but there’s nothing humble about the high-performance RS5 variant. It's rapid, exciting to drive and thanks to its standard four-wheel drive, similarly capable on dry or wet roads.

If you’re looking for an executive express that’s both sporty and practical, the RS5 ticks all the boxes. Elegant, upmarket styling, amazing performance and grip from its sophisticated four-wheel drive system, and a four-seat cabin with a decent boot - ideal for long-haul business trips.

The latest models are powered by an engine that offers bags of power but is decently economical if you’re taking it easy. While it may not have quite the sharp feel of a BMW M4 or the fun factor of an AMG C63, in the real world the RS5 is just as quick and probably easier to live with.

A new one costs around £70,000, but around £50,000 should be just about enough to get you into a year-old model with less than 10k on the clock, while a two-year-old will be around the £45,000 mark. That's a hefty saving for a car that should still look practically new.

AUDI A5 BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Jaguar F-Type

Used deals from £28,444
Monthly finance from £429

The Porsche 911 is most often associated with super-successful business types after a sports car, largely as a result of the cult-like status it held for so-called ‘yuppies’ in the 1980s and ‘90s. The appeal of the car has only increased since then, but super-high resale prices mean that the 911 doesn't make an especially attractive used car bargain for canny execs.

Instead we’d point you to a relative newcomer, and the gorgeously seductive curves of the Jaguar F-Type. It’s absolutely stunning to look at - whether you opt for the coupe or the roadster with its folding roof - super fun to drive, while all the engine options offer highly competitive performance.

The latest 2020 cars are a little bit sleeker to look at from the front at least, but few would turn their nose up at a pre-update F-Type - the differences aren't that obvious apart from a tweak to the headlights design. The F-Type is available with a more affordable and economical four-cylinder engine plus more dramatic-sounding six-cylinder and eight-cylinder motors, plus a variety of trim levels, but even the lesser-powered models look the part and are a blast to drive.

Prices start on BuyaCar at around £30,000, with monthly payments starting at around £500 on PCP finance are enough to put one of these beauties on your drive. Meanwhile, around £50,000 gets you a 2019 supercharged V6 model that has covered only a few thousand miles, for those after something newer.

JAGUAR F-TYPE BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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