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One of the most fiercely-competitive car markets is the executive car. The competition is intense with most manufacturers trying to win over high-profile customers with models that are simply to die for. While the German trio of Mercedes, BMW, and Audi are still the favorites, the market is heated up with the presence of brands like Jaguar, Volvo, Lexus, and Infiniti that are pulling out all stops to leave the German behind in the race. Here’s a snapshot of what the premium car manufacturers have lined up for business executives with a flair for performance, style, build, and economy.

JaguarXE

For quite some time Jaguar has been desperately trying to rival the BMW 3 Series in the compact executive segment, and finally it looks like it arrived with its XE variant that builds on the company’s success with the much larger XF sedan. The car has a style-quotient that is simply stunning and offers cutting-edge engineering with an aluminum chassis, a luxurious leather interior and a diesel engine that’s quite frugal. The latest-gen 2 liter Ingenium engine delivers a whopping 178 bhp that combines very well with the 8-speed transmission to deliver power smoothly and in a very refined manner, making it ideal for long-distance travel. Good passenger space and a very spacious baggage area are real pluses, while the high-tech multimedia system is a sure hit.

Audi A6

Now with a comprehensive facelift, the Audi A6 also sports aluminum extensively in its structure for increased agility. The engine has been further refined to deliver very low CO2 emissions. The drivability remains as good as ever, though not quite in the BMW 5 Series league. The exterior styling is refreshed and the interiors too feel luxurious with the inclusion of a new infotainment system. You can choose between the 2 liter and the 3 liter diesel engines that offer quite a few power output options as also a petrol hybrid. The A6 Ultra with its 2.0 liter TDI engine churning out 187 bhp and returning 67.3 mpg with a carbon emission of just 106g/km seems to be a clear winner.

BMW 3 Series

The BMW 3 Series dominates executive car parks perhaps like none other. The reason is not hard to find. The car has an impressive handling and drive behavior, while the 2.0 liter diesel unit is quite low on carbon emissions. Drivers who appreciate drive quality will find it hard not to fall in love with the supremely secure feeling when one is at the wheel. The car is finely-balanced, and the steering well-weighted to give those at the wheel a fully-involved experience. The cabin is business-like providing adequate head and legroom. With 480 liters of baggage space and a 40:20:40 split seatbacks, you can carry a serious amount of stuff if you so desire.

Mercedes C Class

With technological and styling cues taken from its hugely-successful flagship S-Class, the latest in the line of C-Class Mercedes looks amazing inside and out. Not only does it possess one of the best cabins in the executive class that is supremely comfortable but also looks suitably up market. Longer and wider than its predecessor, the interior is very spacious with lots of legroom and headroom. The visibility remains as good as ever, while there is better alignment of the driving position. The dash and the doors have numerous storage spaces for hoarding knickknacks and you can connect your smartphone with the media interface. You get the choice of three diesel units as well as a petrol one. While it doesn’t measure up to the standard of ride and handling set up by the BMW 3 Series, it is still a very appealing option for business executives in the market for classy saloons.

Lexus IS

Rather than going into battle headlong with its German rivals, Lexus has carved out its own path to excellence with the styling and build-quality looking quite difficult to find fault with. There are no diesel options, but corporate buyers will find the 2.5 liter IS 300h hybrid four-cylinder engine extremely appealing with its low 99g/km carbon emission level, however the CVT transmission may not quite excite drivers looking for sporty performance. The chassis has been reworked to be firmer and the car is now more stable while negotiating corners offering very little body roll and lots of grip that inspires confidence. The 300h is quite refined and smooth in the city, however performance on the motorways is a different story with the CVT whining, throttle response lazy, and acceleration sluggish, despite its 220 bhp output. The IS 250 with its 2.5-litre 204 bhp V6 engine is better but still not quite in the sports league.

Author bio: Rob Marlowe is the senior sales manager of an online portal dealing with certified pre-owned cars. He writes extensively on automotive trends and issues.