This year marks the 20th birthday of the Ford Mondeo. From its introduction in 1993 it has become an institution on British roads, defining not only an entire class of car, but also a political class, with the Labour coined ‘Mondeo Man’ describing a generation of aspirational motorists.
To celebrate this milestone, Ford has added two new models to the range: the entry level Graphite and the luxurious Titanium X Business edition, which is loaded with kit as standard to appeal to tax conscious company car drivers. As you can read from our forthcoming road test, the Mondeo has lost none of its talent, remaining an entertaining, well specified steer that can still punch its weight in the face of ever fierce competition from Japanese and Korean manufacturers. This is perhaps just as well, as the all new Mondeo is not due to reach UK showrooms until 2015.
However, with the fully specified Titanium X Business Edition starting from £21,995, it got us thinking: how much top-tier executive saloon could you get for the same money if you’re prepared to buy second hand? If you can live without the safety net of a manufacturer warranty and can afford the increase in running costs, you could be sitting at the wheel of a premium saloon that has already ridden the steepest part of its depreciation curve.
Tempted? Here is our guide to our top five luxury saloons for Mondeo money.
The Quattroporte is perhaps as far removed a saloon from the Mondeo as it is possible to get. With gorgeous Italian styling and an elegant, sumptuous interior it will certainly make you stand out in the office car park. A lack of frugal diesel engines and expensive parts and servicing meant heavy depreciation from new and early models now fall within our £20,000 budget – not bad for a car that was developed by Ferrari.
Search for a used Maserati Quattroporte here
The epitome of the German luxury saloon, the Audi A8 is classy, subtle (for a 5 metre long limousine) and loaded with advanced technology. Unlike the Quattroporte, it’s fitted with engines to suit all tastes, from fuel-sipping 3.0-litre diesels, to the howling 5.2-litre Lamborghini-derived petrol V10 in the sporty S8 model. Drivers looking to stand out from the crowd might be disappointed; to the untrained eye the flagship A8 looks very similar to the junior rep A4. Best just to revel in the well appointed interior and sheer quantity of toys, which includes such niceties as fingerprint recognition ignition on some models.
Search for a used Audi A8 here
One for the driving enthusiast, the M5 sits at the top of BMW’s exec 5-series range, having been given a workover by its bonkers ‘M’ division. £20,000 won’t get you into the current generation, but will comfortably buy the outgoing model, which is fitted with a screaming, F1 inspired 5.0-litre V10 engine. If you feel the need to have supercar humbling power in your four-door motorway cruiser then look no further – just be prepared to crippling fuel consumption and an automated-manual gearbox that works at its best at maximum attack; feeling rather jerky and recalcitrant at town speeds.
Search for a used BMW M5 here
Yes, it’s not quite a ‘top-tier’ luxury saloon, but the VXR8 is refreshingly old-school compared to the current crop of high-tech, highly efficient saloon cars. It’s powered by the same 6.2-litre V8 engine found in the Corvette muscle car, which develops 425bhp – enough to compete with nearly everything the Germans offer. It’s not just about the power either; the VXR8 offers a spacious cabin and a generous kit list, though the interior materials and construction quality can’t match the likes of Audi or BMW. With fuel prices and emissions legislation getting ever more severe, we’re unlikely to see anything like it ever again.
Search for a used Vauxhall VXR8 here
A four-door saloon has to be conservative, right? Mercedes certainly begged to differ when it introduced the first generation CLS back in 2004. Its swoopy, elegant styling arguably started the trend for svelte four-door coupes and made the E-Class on which it is based look uncomfortable staid. It’s available with six cylinder petrol and diesel as well as larger V8 petrols, including a thumping 5.5-litre supercharged model from Mercedes’ performance arm AMG. Whichever model you plump for, it’s hard to deny that few four-door saloons have ever looked so good.
Search for a used Mercedes CLS here