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The best saloon cars 2017: Five worth considering

For those who rack up serious business miles and want something with more flair than an estate yet maintain a level of practicality, the saloon is for you. But what are the best saloon cars of 2017?

You have probably been told countless times that SUVs and crossovers will be the death of saloons and the versatility of estate cars is another factor that could well see them go the way of the dodo.

But the saloon is still a worthy type of car that manages to be practical and stylish and there are some absolute corkers out there if you care more about driving dynamics than boot space. Not that any of our five choices are poor in that department. Here are five of our favourites, in no particular order.

1) BMW 5 Series: The tech-heavy choice

The new BMW 5 Series is especially talented, thanks to so many revisions it would take us years to list them all. Suffice to say, a lot of effort has been made to make it more than competitive.

It has an improved driving experience and a lot of luxuries in the pricier 7 Series have filtered down into the cabin, making it more luxurious. For instance, the optional Remote View lets you keep tabs of your vehicle using your smartphone.

The basic 2.0 diesel is perfectly adequate and makes the most sense financially, but the pokier 3.0-litre is the engine to bring the car to life until we get the M5 at the end of the year. Meanwhile cabin space is generous and the boot is a competitive 530 litres.

What works?

Pretty much everything, to be honest.

What doesn’t?

Easy to bump up the price with extras, like any BMW.

From £36,410 | BMW configurator | 2017 BMW 5 Series review

2) Audi A5 Sportback: The ‘budget’ Audi

The standard A5 coupe is a great car but the A5 Sportback makes it easier to recommend because it has a roomier interior and two extra doors, both of which make it considerably more practical.

Audi has reduced the weight of the A5 Sportback by up to 85kg and that has a knock-on effect on the handling (better), emissions (reduced) and fuel economy (improved). Boot space is 480 litres and you can expect up to 68.9mpg.

The standout point about the A5 Sportback is that it is best served in its lowliest spec, as the 2.0 TDI ultra Sport is 187bhp of seriously refined cruising with more luxury than before.

What works?

The fact you have a truly excellent cruiser without having to spend the earth.

What doesn’t?

You may get stick from other motorists because apparently all Audi drivers are awful.

From £33,190 | Audi A5 Sportback configurator | Audi A5 Sportback review

3) Mercedes C-Class: The elegant choice

The latest Mercedes C-Class is less involving to drive than the new 5 Series (and the new model has been spotted as a prototype), but it is more elegant. Sadly it is best served with air suspension, which costs extra.

Most engines are suitably frugal and perform well on the CO2 emissions front, although that is less of a bonus now that the 2017 VED changes have kicked in. Sport trim is worth considering as it gives you the best bang for your buck.

You do pay a premium for the Merc badge, but the fit and finish is top-notch and it has a brilliant cabin. It is just a shame the diesels are less refined than what you get in the BMW. As for boot space, expect 480 litres – the same as the BMW 3 Series.

What works?

Brits love a Mercedes and the C-Class is somewhat affordable, not to mention practical.

What doesn’t?

The BMW 5 Series is a nicer drive, if involvement is something you care about.

From £28,160 | Mercedes C-Class configurator

4) Jaguar XE: The fun choice

For those who want a smaller saloon, the Jaguar XE comes highly recommended. Not only does it look good, it offers a brilliant mix of refinement, comfort and handling capability that makes it thoroughly enjoyable to drive.

The standard level of equipment is solid and the available engines offer everything from cheap motoring in the form of the Ingenium 2.0-litre diesel to performance that will make you grin like an idiot in the form of the supercharged V6 XE S.

Interior space is generous for such a small car, but the 450-litre boot means a little less freedom to go overboard with shopping. You could also argue the interior is less luxurious than its rivals, but we never felt like complaining about it and it looks better than in the F-Pace SUV.

What works?

Handles brilliantly, looks the part and works well with a big engine.

What doesn’t?

The interior looks cheaper than its German rivals.

From £28,295 | Jaguar XE configurator | 2017 Jaguar XE S review

5) Alfa Romeo Giulia: The emotional choice

The Alfa Romeo Giulia is the newest kid on the block and a glimpse at the feedback the Italian manufacturer has taken onboard in recent years. Not only is the cabin a step up on previous cars, the exterior styling turns heads like nothing else.

Refinement is another area where the Giulia is noticeably sufficient and the suspension can soak up the worst lumps and bumps without impacting too much on the handling, which is deeply rewarding.

Go for the Ferrari-engined Giulia Quadrifoglio and you have the king of sporty saloons. It really is a masterclass in how a modern-day car, lumbered with electronics, electric steering and safety systems galore, can and should behave.

Reliability is a concern, but it is too early to judge if we should be worried, as is the case for depreciation. However, because the rear-wheel drive Giulia has rectified so many of the common Alfa complaints maybe, just maybe it will be okay.

What works?

Handles brilliantly and it stands out as the petrolhead’s choice.

What doesn’t?

We have heard of some ‘teething’ problems with a few of the press cars.

From £29,550 | Alfa Romeo Giulia configurator | Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio review


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