Sure, SUVs are a thing now, but sometimes all you want is to go back to basics: A car that’s refined and practical, but also punchy when you need it to be. Thankfully, this class hasn’t yet been neglected; competitors have pulled out all the stops in creating the perfect saloon for your everyday drives.
The usual suspects leading the race are quite predictably, the Germans, but brands such as some Lexus and Alfa Romeo have caught up by packaging deft handling, impressive interiors and handsome looks to make for some of the best cars in the market.
If you’re in the market for one, here are the best executive luxury saloons to be seen in this year.
Long a benchmark for its class, the BMW 3 Series brings back the magic of driving with its latest incarnation. Two variants will be on offer; the 330i features a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder that will conjure 255hp and 400Nm of torque, while the sporty M340i will receive a larger inline-six that manages 385 ponies and 500Nm of shove.
The all-new Bimmer might have grown, but manages to still weigh lesser than its predecessor — thanks to the extensive use of lightweight materials. Inside, expect BMW’s modernised aesthetic to take over, alongside a bigger trunk and a slew of high-tech options.
While not a new generation entirely, the 2020 Audi A4 is a thorough facelift with plenty to brag about. Oh, and it has its eyes set on the BMW 3 Series above.
Save for the roof, hood, and trunk, the rest of this car is fresh off the drawing block, with a wider and lower grille, and snazzy new cluster LED headlights that now come as standard. The rear lights also sit on a new bumper, and sharper lines define the profile.
As expected of a German marque, the A4 gets brand new tech; its new infotainment screen is now 10.1 inches wide and sits proudly on the dash awaiting input via touch. The biggest leap however, still lies under the hood, where six turbocharged engines — for different variants — will see outputs that range from 147 to 342hp. A few of these will receive a 48-volt mild hybrid system for fuel economy too.
As one of Mercedes-Benz best-selling models, the 2019 C-Class had plenty big shoes to fill, and thankfully, it delivered with plenty of finesse. New body styling and wheel options give the car sedan a sportier, more purposeful stance, alongside a number of technological advancements to keep it at the top of its game.
For that, Mercedes-Benz threw in the whole works. There are cinematic screens within that feature customisable interfaces, and the steering wheel now comes with touchpad to render your driving experience at beck and call of your thumbs. The base C300 receives a power hike to 255hp and 370Nm of torque, all hooked up to a nine-speed transmission to make for quite a remarkable ride.
Now in its seventh generation, the ES sees a full redesign this year that Lexus hoped would reinvigorate the slowing mid-sized luxury sedan market. Besides a more faceted facade, the ES also now sports slimmer headlights and tail lights, and is now bigger in every way thanks to a brand new platform.
As a treat for Lexus fans, the ES was offered with an F-Sport trim for the very first time. While it harnesses 302hp and 362Nm of torque from the same 3.5-litre V6, the sportier model distinguishes itself with larger 19-inch wheels and adaptive variable suspension, as well as performance goodies such as Sport+ and Custom drive modes.
The Italian’s answer to all its rivals — and also its first saloon by Alfa Romeo since 2011 — is the Giulia, and you can expect plenty of flair. No stranger to pedigree motoring, the Giulia gets outfitted with an athletic chassis and even rowdier turbocharged four-cylinder. The steering is extremely nimble and the brakes, tenacious. With a car this lively, you’ll need it.
The styling is equally hot-blooded, and two appearance packages — Nero Edizione and Carbon Fibre — are on offer should you wish to go beyond the iconic scarlet paint job.
Those seeking a little more oomph will take interest in the Quadrifoglio (Italian for “four-leaf clover”), which sees a breathtaking (literally) 503hp 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 under its hood.