The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder

New car registration special March 2014: Executive cars


BMW 318d Sport

Against an ageing Mercedes C-class that’s due to be replaced this summer and an uninspiring Audi A4, the exceptional 3-series is star of the small executive car category. It blends responsive and precise handling with a superbly comfortable ride. With a stellar engine line-up to boot, the car’s only weakness is its prosaic cabin. It’s not cheap, however. The most popular model is the 318d Sport, and a combination of good BMW and dealership incentives on offer means that it is available with a massive deposit contribution of £3,797. Add in £4,299 of your own money and the monthly payments over a three-year deal are £309. The total cost is less than the car’s list price, although you should be able to haggle that down further if you buy outright.

Engine 1995cc, 4 cylinders, diesel
Acceleration 0-62mph: 9sec
Fuel / CO2 62.8mpg / 118g/km
Road tax C (first year free; then £30)

Price £28,675
Deposit £4,299
Payments £309 x 35 months
Optional final payment £12,105
Interest rate 4.9%
Total payable £27,219


Search for used BMW 3-series on driving.co.uk

 

BMW 520d SE

This is a category dominated by BMW. Just like its smaller 3-series sibling, the 5-series offers an exceptional blend of comfort and driving excitement but in a bigger — and better — package. Jeremy Clarkson described the car in 530d specification as “an object lesson in how to crush your competition, the Usain Bolt of motoring”. And his verdict on the lesser-powered — but more popular — 520d wasn’t much less enthusiastic. The four-cylinder diesel engine in this car offers a good compromise between everyday performance and fuel economy with an official combined figure of 62.8mpg and a CO2 output of 119g/km, ensuring low running costs and tax rates for private and business owners alike.

Although the 520d was updated last year there are still discounts available of just over £3,000, which means that, even after interest, at the end of a three-year deal the car will have cost you less than the showroom price.

Engine 1995cc, 4-cylinder diesel
Acceleration 0-62mph: 8.1sec
Fuel / CO2 62.8mpg / 119g/km
Road tax C (first year free; then £30)

Price £31,965
Deposit £5,499
Payments £349 x 35 months
Optional final payment £13,792.50
Interest rate 4.9%
Total payable £31,506.50


Search for used BMW 5-series on driving.co.uk

 

Mercedes-Benz S 350 BlueTec SE Line

Even the wealthy are partial to buying their car on finance, according to Tim Marlow of Magnitude Finance, which brokers lease deals on prestigious vehicles. He says that clients don’t want a large amount of cash tied up in a car, presumably leaving them free to pile into the next dotcom bubble. It’s why Mercedes allows buyers of its S-class to take out a PCP deal. It remains top of its class whether you are driving or being driven in it. A new S-class was launched last year, which means you will have to push hard to get a good deal, especially on the bestselling S 350, which is often bought with optional 19in alloy wheels.

Engine 2987cc, V6 diesel
Acceleration 0-62mph: 6.8sec
Fuel / CO2 51.4mpg / 146g/km
Road tax F (£140 a year)

Price £64,400 (with optional 19in wheels)
Deposit £9,999
Payments £799 x 36 months
Optional final payment £28,025
Interest rate 3.9%
Total payable £66,788

Search for used Mercedes S-class on driving.co.uk

 

Also see:

Superminis

MPVs and estates

City cars

4x4s and SUVs

Family cars

Sports cars