Executive saloons are square jawed street fighters. They battle vandals, extreme weather, and parking damage. Hard to stomach if your vehicle cost £40,000. So, which cars suit motorists wanting executive comfort on a budget?
The Vauxhall Omega is a logical choice but less fashionable than flared trousers. Engines range from 2.0 to 3.2-litres and achieve 23-40mpg. Top models generate 217bhp and reach 60mph in 7.7 seconds. The rear-wheel-drive layout and solid handling reward enthusiastic drivers and compensate for dated interiors. Omegas are mechanically strong but suffer numerous niggling faults. Nevertheless, the Omega remains a worthy car.
A classier alternative is the Saab 9-5. This smooth riding cruiser shares components with the Vectra but is more distinctive, sophisticated, and fashionable. Engines range from 2.0 to 3.0-litres and achieve 24-40mpg. Top models generate 250bhp and reach 60mph in 6.9 seconds. The 9-5 is solidly built and reliability is superior to the Omega. It also earned five Euro NCAP safety stars and boasts an impressive security system.
A 2003 Omega costs £3,000 and 9-5s around £5500. There are diesel and automatic variants and estates large enough to transport grizzly bears; although carrying such hairy monsters might invalidate the warranty. Both the Omega and 9-5 provide executive comfort minus the premium and represent excellent value for money.