BMW 3 Series
The BMW 3 Series is one of the most stylish and well-equipped cars on the market today, with the saloon one of the best sellers in the UK.
Priced from £23,550, the BMW 3 Series is available in the following trim levels: ES, SE, EfficientDynamics, EfficientDynamics Business, Sport, Modern, Luxury, Active Hybrid 3 and M Sport.
As with all BMW models, the 3 Series comes very well equipped. Standard kit includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning, Bluetooth hands-free, BMW Professional radio, multi-function leather steering wheel, USB audio interface and DAB tuner.
Moving up the trim levels brings numerous desirable features like larger alloys, dual-zone air conditioning, leather upholstery, sat-nav, ambient lighting, front sports seats, metallic paint, 8.8-inch colour display screen and numerous ‘M’ styling pieces.
Numerous petrol and diesel engines are available to power the BMW 3 Series, with power outputs ranging from 114bhp to 313bhp.
Depending on the version chosen, the BMW 3 Series saloon will emit between 109g/km and 186g/km, while returning average fuel economy of between 35.8mpg and 68.9mpg.
Company car drivers should opt for the BMW 3 Series 320d EfficientDynamics Business model, which is tailored specifically for such buyers. Our pick for private buyers, however, is the well-equipped BMW 3 Series 320d SE model.
Hot on the heels of the BMW 3 Series is the sleek Audi A5 – more specifically the Audi A5 Sportback version.
The Audi A5 Sportback is priced from £26,430 and is available in numerous trim levels. The A5 Sportback line-up comprises the following trims: Standard, SE, SE Technik, S line and Black Edition.
Standard equipment across the A5 Sportback range includes auto start/stop function, 17-inch alloy wheels, DAB radio, climate control, leather steering wheel, intelligent key, cruise control and interior chrome package.
Higher-spec models include additional features such as larger alloys, Bluetooth, leather upholstery, leather multi-function steering wheel, three-zone climate control, DVD Navigation, sports suspension, rear LED lights, Xenon headlights, front Sports seats and privacy glass.
Numerous petrol and diesel engines are available to power the Audi A5 Sportback, with power output ranging from 134bhp to 242bhp.
The sleek saloon will also return average fuel economy of between 42.2mpg and 64.2mpg, while emitting between 117g/km and 155g/km of CO2.
Entry-level models come packed with more than enough kit, so our choice of the range is the Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI 177. This has more power than the A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI 136 for only a touch more money.
Vauxhall Insignia Saloon
The latest-generation, four-door Vauxhall Insignia Saloon is a sleek and well-built model, now coming equipped more technology and available with a simplified trim range.
Priced from £18,104, the new Vauxhall Insignia Saloon is available in four trim levels: Design, SRi, SE and Elite.
Standard equipment is extensive, with all models receiving 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, DMB digital radio, leather-covered steering wheel, CD/MP3 player and stereo radio, USB connection and aux-in socket and LED daytime running lights.
Vauxhall has also introduced an all-new infotainment system to the Insignia, which incorporates an eight-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth-operated internet connectivity, 3D navigation, voice control and full smartphone compatibility.
One engine is available to power the Vauxhall Insignia Saloon: a 161bhp 2.0-litre CDTi diesel unit. Customers looking for a power boost can instead opt for the Vauxhall Insignia 2.8T VXR SuperSport, which pumps out 321bhp.
Depending on the version chosen, the Vauxhall Insignia Saloon will emit between 114g/km and 249g/km of CO2 emissions, while the car will also return average fuel economy of between 26.4mpg and 65.7mpg.
Our choice of the range is the Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi 163 Design, as it offers the lowest CO2 emissions while coming equipped with more than enough equipment for most drivers.
Joining its fellow German models, the 3 Series and A5, in the saloon segment is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. As with all Mercedes cars, the latest iteration of the C-Class is well-built and comes highly equipped.
The newest-generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class costs from £26,855 and is available in three trims, which are SE, Sport and AMG Line.
Standard equipment is plentiful, with all models receiving a seven-inch colour display, 16-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, dual-zone air conditioning, reversing camera, cruise control, rain sensing wipers, Attention Assist, Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Artico leather upholstery and heated windscreen wiper washers.
Moving up the range brings desirable kit such as larger alloys, LED headlights, lowered comfort suspension, Gramin Map Pilot Navigation, chrome exterior trim and ‘AMG’-branded features to the mix.
When first deliveries take place in June 2014, the model will be offered with the C 200 petrol engine and the C 220 BlueTEC diesel unit. During the course of the year, a further three engine variants, the C 200 BlueTEC, C 250 BlueTEC and C 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, will follow.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class will return between 53.3mpg and 70.6mpg, while producing between 103g/km and 128g/km of CO2 emissions.
Depending on the version chosen, the new C-Class will carry a BiK tax rating of between 16% and 18% for 2014/15.
With a host of equipment, competitively priced and offering low CO2 emissions, our choice of the range is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class C 220 BlueTEC SE.
The Skoda Superb is a well-built and sophisticated addition to the saloon segment, with the model range offering low CO2 emissions figures and all coming highly-specified.
Prices for the Skoda Superb start from £18,690, with the model available in the following trims: S, SE, SE Business and Elegance, with GreenLine III versions of each offered as well.
Standard equipment for a Skoda Superb includes 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, front fog lights, rear LED lights, leather multi-function steering wheel and Bluetooth.
Higher-spec models get even more luxuries, such as Alcantara/leather upholstery, leather gear knob, larger alloys, cornering front fog lights, rear parking sensors, dual-zone air conditioning, Bi-Xenon headlights, colour touch-screen sat-nav with DAB radio, heated front seats and rain sensor.
Numerous petrol and diesel engines are available to power the Skoda Superb, with sizes ranging from 1.4-litres to 3.6-litres and power outputs varying from 103bhp to 256bhp.
Depending on which model is chosen, the Skoda Superb will emit between 109g/km and 215g/km of CO2, placing the model in a VED tax band between ‘B’ and ‘K’.
For company car drivers, our pick of the range is the Skoda Superb 1.6 TDI 105 SE Business GreenLine III, which offers low CO2 emissions and the perfect amount of equipment for such motorists.
Flying the flag for France in the saloon segment is the sleek and stylish Peugeot 508, offering high levels equipment and a frugal drive.
Priced from £19,545, the Peugeot 508 is available in the following trim levels: Access, Active and Allure.
Standard equipment is plentiful, with all models receiving 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, Peugeot Connect Sound Radio/CD player, Peugeot Connect USB Box with Bluetooth, daytime running lights and numerous airbags.
Moving up the trim range brings additional kit such as larger alloys, Peugeot Connect Navigation with Bluetooth, front and rear parking aid, Peugeot Connect SOS and Assistance, Xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, electrically-adjustable and heated front seats, Peugeot Open and Go System (Keyless Entry with Start/Stop Button) and automatic electric parking brake with Hill Assist.
A host of petrol and diesel engines are available for use in the Peugeot 508, along with one hybrid powertrain (HYbrid4), with power outputs ranging from 115bhp to 200bhp.
The Peugeot 508 will produce between 91g/km and 149g/km of CO2 emissions, along with returning average fuel economy of between 45.6mpg and 80.7mpg.
With a good level of equipment and low CO2 emissions, our recommended choice is the Peugeot 508 1.6 e-HDI 115 Active EGC.