The mid-size executive class champions premium-worthy quality, long-distance comfort and refinement and adult-occupant-appropriate space, although cars with a dash of performance and handling dynamism inevitably stand out in within it.
These cars spend a great deal of their lives out on the motorway, so refinement is key; but so is the right benefit-in-kind classification. A good plug-in hybrid powertrain is increasingly important to making the case to own & run an executive car as a fleet option, and in some mid-size execs that PHEV version is better than in others.
The office car park status conferred by a desirable premium badge is a vital part of the equation in this chart also. These, then, are our mid-sized executive favourites.
1. BMW 5 Series
BMW’s latest 5 Series is in many ways the quintessential and defining mid-sized executive saloon, having had its reputation honed and refined over the course of a developmental history that's now in its 50th year.
The car sets a high standard in the segment as far as perceived cabin quality is concerned; it makes a very comfortable long-distance tourer in pretty much any engine and trim you might choose; its best engines also offer first-rate performance and drivability, and very creditably real-world efficiency too; and its rear-driven handling poise makes for plenty of sporting appeal when you go looking for it, without compromising on ride comfort.
A range of plug-in hybrid powertrains make the car very easy to recommend to both fleet drivers and private owners. Both the 530e and 545e would qualify for a 2021 BIK tax banding of 11 per cent; and while the latter comes exclusively in saloon-bodied, four-wheel drive form, the former can be had in any driveline configuration or bodystyle you might want.
Meanwhile at the richer but more traditional end of the 5-Series engine spectrum, plenty of reward might be found for opting out of the company car scheme altogether. The current 5-Series M Performance derivative, the M550i xDrive, does a very convincing and appealingly laid-back impression of an M5 super saloon for a much more accessible price, while there's still plenty of driver appeal about a 530d - and plenty of real-world fuel economy and versatility also.
This car may not be quite as sweet-handling as a Jaguar XF but, considering where executive saloons spend most of their time, it has huge and very relevant strengths. BMW's infotainment and driver assistance technology is a notch above most rivals also, particularly for the impressive configurability of the car's active safety system.