Best saloon cars

Looking for a spacious and affordable family car that isn't a hatchback or SUV? One of these excellent saloons could be the car for you

James Allen
May 27, 2021

The traditional saloon car may not be as popular now as five-door hatchbacks, which offer larger and more practical boot openings, and higher-riding SUVs, which major on offering chunky off-roader styling, but that doesn’t mean you should discount them.

In fact, they’re great choices if you’re after a versatile all-rounder, as saloons are generally spacious and comfortable cars that are available with a good selection of punchy and efficient engines. Better still, as they're a less obvious choice for many drivers, they can prove better value than most alternative models.

While saloon cars tend to be larger models like the Ford Mondeo and BMW 3 Series, there are also options that are bigger and smaller than that. For instance, you can opt for similarly-sized saloon versions of family hatchbacks like the Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class. Additionally, there are also large and luxurious models at the other end of the spectrum if you’d prefer something with a plush and extremely refined cabin.

Historically, new saloon cars lose value quickly, with them often losing a lot of their original worth by the time they’re sold as used cars. While this is costly for the person who bought the car brand new - as they get back only a small proportion of what they paid when they come to sell - it means you can get a relatively new car that costs far less than it did when new.

Because there are a broad selection of used saloons out there, we’ve highlighted 8 top picks that each have a distinct feature that sets them apart from other models – ranging from space and value for money, to low running costs and long warranty cover. Read on for our selection of the best used saloons you can buy.

Best saloon cars on BuyaCar

1. Alfa Romeo Giulia

Best saloon car for stylish looks

Used deals from £18,690
Monthly finance from £277*

While we wouldn’t recommend that you choose a car for its looks alone, there’s no denying that a car’s styling can really grab your attention. If you’re after a saloon that’s striking to look at, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is worth considering, as it has a very eye-catching design - especially if you go for one with a bright blue or vivid red paint finish.

There’s more to like about the Alfa Romeo than its looks, too. While the interior isn’t as distinctive as the exterior or as plush as the ones you’ll find in some rivals, the Giulia’s cabin is still a stylish and comfy place to spend your commutes. Likewise, while the engine selection isn’t particularly broad, the 2.2-litre diesel and 2.0-litre petrol options all offer respectable blends of performance and fuel economy, and all of the engines come with a very smooth-shifting automatic gearbox.

Because the Alfa Romeo Giulia never sold as well as some rivals like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, there aren’t as many to choose from on the used market. It's worth being patient to find one, though, as few saloon cars look anywhere near as slick or offer the same kind of desirability as the Giulia.

ALFA ROMEO GIULIA BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Audi A3 Saloon

Best saloon car if you’re after something smaller

Used deals from £12,299
Monthly finance from £230*

Many of the saloons on this list are on the larger side - but what if you’re looking for one that’s on par size-wise with family hatchbacks like the VW Golf and Ford Focus? You’ll be pleased to know there are a few options, and one that’s worth having on your radar is the Audi A3 Saloon.

As its name suggests, the Audi A3 Saloon is the four-door version of the regular Audi A3 hatchback. This also means a lot of the plus points of that five-door car have been carried over wholesale. For example, the interior build quality is top notch and, while some of the more advanced tech was relegated to the options list when new, the decent standard equipment levels means you’ll have a well kitted-out car regardless of the spec. There are also a variety of engines to pick from, ranging from economy-oriented 1.6-litre diesels to powerful 2.0-litre petrols.

If a used Audi A3 Saloon is the four-door car for you, then you’ll likely end up picking up the keys to one of the previous-generation models, as they account for a majority of the used models available. A few versions of the current Audi A3 Saloon have also filtered onto the market, but there aren’t as many to choose from and these will be more expensive to buy.

2013-2020 AUDI A3 SALOON BUYERS' GUIDE

3. BMW 3 Series

Best saloon car for a sporty drive

Used deals from £11,695
Monthly finance from £221*

The BMW 3 Series has long had a reputation for being one of the sportiest saloon cars you can get, and the latest version has kept that trend going. While rivals like the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE run it very close, the BMW’s nimble handling and stable cornering make it a great choice if you’re after a saloon that is fun to drive.

Don’t go thinking that sporty feel makes the BMW uncomfortable, though. While ride quality varies depending on the size of the wheels and whether the car is fitted with firmer sports suspension, all versions of the 3 Series feel just as at home on the motorway as they do on a twisty road. The 3 Series was also available with an array of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines from new - and, because the car sold so well over the years, it should be easy to find a 3 Series with the engine and specification you’re looking for.

Most of the used BMW 3 Series listings you’ll find on BuyaCar will be for the previous-generation version, which was sold between 2012 and 2019. Some second-hand examples of the current car have also made it onto the used market and you can expect many more of these to filter through in time.

2019-PRESENT BMW 3 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE
2012-2019 BMW 3 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Jaguar XJ

Best saloon car for space and luxury

Used deals from £26,322
Monthly finance from £460*

If you were set on getting a new Jaguar XJ, that ship has now sailed. This version is now out of production and Jaguar doesn’t plan on making a new one anytime soon. As a result, the only way to get a Jaguar XJ now is to buy one used. Thanks to the fact that the XJ loses value particularly quickly when new - like many luxury cars - this model is much more affordable now than you might expect.

While prices for the Jaguar XJ when new started from just over £62,000, even low mileage examples from its last year of production in 2020 can be picked up from around £40,000. That’s still a fair bit of money, but it does get you a lot of car; the interior, while starting to feel a little bit dated in places, is still as plush as you’d expect from a car of this calibre, and there’s lots of interior space (especially if you end up going for one of the even roomier long-wheelbase models).

That price will also almost certainly get you a Jaguar XJ with a 3.0-litre diesel engine. While other engines were offered during the XJ's long production run - including a very powerful 5.0-litre supercharged petrol engine that was available in the sportiest versions - they were nowhere near as popular as the 3.0-litre diesel and don’t tend to go on sale very often.

JAGUAR XJ BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Kia Optima

Best saloon car for a long warranty

Used deals from £12,500
Monthly finance from £226*

When purchasing any used car, many drivers prioritise models that come with a good reliability record. After all, no one likes being stung by hefty repair bills. If peace of mind is number one priority for you, then it may be worth considering the Kia Optima, as it has one of the longest manufacturer warranties of any saloon car. While that may sound like a benefit only to the person who bought the car new, you can benefit from the remainder of the same warranty when picking up a used model.

When new, the Kia Optima came with a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. Because this cover can carry over when the car is sold to the next owner, it means you may have a substantial chunk of the original warranty left, even if you buy a car that’s a few years old or has racked up quite a few miles.

While the rest of the Optima isn’t as impressive as its warranty cover, it is nevertheless a decent all-rounder. The interior is fairly spacious and well-equipped and, while it’s far from being an exciting drive, the Optima comes into its own as a comfy motorway cruiser.

Most of the used Kia Optimas you'll see will be cars with the 1.7-litre diesel engine under the bonnet, though there are also plug-in hybrid models available, which feature petrol-electric power and offer the prospect of around 30 miles of electric range from a full charge. These, however, tend to be a bit rarer and carry a slightly higher price in comparison.

KIA OPTIMA SALOON BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Mazda 6

Best saloon car for value for money

Used 2019 deals from £16,250
Monthly finance from £264*

Even as a new car, the Mazda 6 saloon represents pretty good value for money when compared with most rivals and even some other Mazda models. After all, with prices starting from just over £24,000, it’s only a smidge more expensive than the saloon version of the Mazda 3, yet it has notably more room inside for passengers, has a more spacious boot and is available with a wider variety of engines.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising to see the Mazda 6 offers a lot of bang for your buck as a used purchase. As a result, you’ll be able to find examples that are only a couple of years old from around £16,000 on BuyaCar. That’s about as much as you’d pay for a brand new Mazda 2 supermini.

If you decide the Mazda 6 is the right saloon car for you, it’s worth considering one that was sold new in 2018 or later if you can afford it. This is because they’ll benefit from the changes introduced during the car’s mid-life update, and include revisions like a new digital media display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity, and a tweaked suspension setup that helped make it a little bit comfier and more fun to drive than before.

2018-PRESENT MAZDA 6 BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Mercedes C-Class

Best saloon car for affordable luxury

Mercedes C-Class Saloon front three quarters view

Used deals Limited stock

Like its rivals such as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, the Mercedes C-Class ticks a lot of boxes as an upmarket saloon car. It’s comfy and relaxing to drive, is practical and looks very classy. There’s good variety when it comes to engines, too, as the C-Class is available with a broad range of petrol and diesel options, plus, it’s one of only a handful of cars that was sold with petrol and diesel plug-in hybrid engines.

Where the C-Class really impresses, though, is on the inside. The C-Class's cabin remains a stylish and luxurious place to spend long journeys. When the car was new, the C-Class was a little bit pricier than some of its rivals, though it’s possible to pick up low mileage examples on BuyaCar from around £25,000 - or about the same as you’d pay for a brand new VW Golf.

Because the C-Class is one of the more popular saloons in the UK, a lot have filtered down into the used market, so finding one with the engine, equipment and colour combo you want shouldn’t be tricky.

MERCEDES C-CLASS SALOON BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Volkswagen Passat GTE

Best saloon car for low running costs

Used deals Limited stock

Not so long ago, if you were after a saloon with the lowest possible running costs, you’d need to consider a frugal diesel engine. However, a growing selection of efficient plug-in hybrid cars are starting to filter down onto the used market, and one that’s worth keeping tabs on is the Volkswagen Passat GTE.

Thanks to this car’s 1.4-litre petrol engine and electric motor combo, the Passat GTE is claimed to be capable of very good fuel economy figures - provided you charge the batteries regularly. Make the most of the electric-only driving range and you'll be able to cut your fuel bills, too.

While the claimed 256mpg economy figure may be tricky to match in day-to-day driving - especially if you often do longer journeys, which will cause the car to deplete the electric batteries and rely on the petrol engine more - the Passat GTE’s low on-paper CO2 emissions figure means it’s a lot more affordable to tax than an equivalent petrol or diesel VW Passat.

The VW Passat GTE is also a pretty good all-rounder. Admittedly, it can’t quite match the Ford Mondeo Hybrid for behind-the-wheel fun, but the Passat GTE handles well enough for a family saloon car, and it’s also comfy and relaxing on longer journeys. The interior is well-made, comes with good amounts of tech and is spacious, though do bear in mind that the battery does eat into boot space in comparison with a regular VW Passat. If you need a big boot, therefore, it's worth looking at petrol and diesel versions of the Passat instead.

VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT SALOON BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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