Executive cars are traditionally chosen by company car users - so factors like the CO2 emissions that govern the tax bill are just as important as cruising refinement for those long motorway journeys, a nicely finished cabin and (whisper it quietly) the image of the badge on the bonnet.
The good news is that there are options for all budgets and tastes. If you don’t need a particularly spacious rear cabin then a baby exec, such as the excellent Audi A3 Saloon, should suffice.
Stepping up in size opens up great-driving saloons like the BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE, or the supremely well-finished cabin of the Mercedes C-Class. You can even go larger again for a surprisingly small hit in monthly tax, because the likes of the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series offer four-cylinder diesel editions that still score strongly on CO2 emissions.
The Audi A3 Saloon is a superb compact executive car. It’s a tax-efficient choice for company car drivers, while its comparatively low running costs will appeal to private buyers.
The BMW 5 Series is a classy, spacious and refined executive saloon with low running costs and a range of excellent engines. It's just a pity that you need to add certain optional extras to make it ride and handle well.