The 3 Used Compact Executive Cars under £20,000
Our top three used compact executive cars have been among their respective brand’s best-selling models.
BMW 3 Series (2012-2015)
The BMW 3 Series has been in production for over four decades, and is incredibly popular, making up over a third of BMW’s sales. It’s the sixth generation, launched in 2012, that you’ll want to look out for.
The 3 Series is available as a six-speed manual or eight speed auto, which is incredibly smooth and efficient. You’ll have a choice of a four-door saloon, a five door touring estate or GT hatchback. For fuel economy, we recommend the 320i diesel variation, which returns 61.4mpg.
In terms of space, there’s a bit more room than the Audi A4 in the back, and you could comfortably fit three adults in the rear seats. It’s a comfortable and luxurious vehicle, with plush leather and excellent build quality screaming out sophistication and quality. Whilst there’s loads of optional extra equipment, sat nav is standard on all models.
Because of its enduring popularity, there’s a huge number available on the used market, so you’re sure to be able to find the right combination of performance, trim and colour.
Audi A4 (2012-)
Coming in close behind the 3 Series and offering an excellent choice for a great value, compact luxury vehicle, is the Audi A4. It was originally launched in 2008, but like the BMW, you’ll want to look for a model from 2012 on wards.
In 2012, facing stiff competition from the 3 Series, the A4 went through a slight redesign and most aspects of it were significantly improved. The 2012 revisions also made the A4 longer and wider, giving more room for the rear passengers than in earlier variants.
Living true to the Audi brand, the A4 is a fine example of understated styling, great finish and exceptional interiors. The cabin is spacious and, whilst elements such as touch sensitive controls, aluminium detailing and a high gloss trim highlight its luxuriousness, it’s incredibly functional and classy.
Like the 3 Series, when launched it was available with a raft of optional extras. One of our favourites includes navigation which works partly with Google Earth and creates a Wi-Fi hotspot so that wireless internet is available for passengers.
You’ll get good fuel economy from this luxurious vehicle, too. Your best bet in this respect will be the 2.0-litre diesel, which’ll return up to 55mpg and deliver between 118 and 168bhp. Petrol engines start with a 1.8-litre turbo which is available between 118 and 158bhp.
Mercedes C Class (2011-)
Coming in third behind the Audi and BMW is the Mercedes C Class, another fine example of German automotive engineering.
When first launched, the C Class aimed to bring the luxury and quality of larger Mercedes executive saloons to a wider audience, in a more compact model. Until the 2007 relaunch, the C Class had a reputation for not living up to these expectations, but things changed with that relaunch and an update in 2011, which gave us a respectable and quality compact executive car.
Now, it’s possible to pick up a post-2007 C Class for a great price on the used market, and the quality of the compact vehicle is not far behind that of the larger executive saloons. Like the Audi and BMW, the leather interior is extremely comfortable and built to last, and the driving position is particularly comfortable thanks to a wide range of adjustment settings.
The range of engines available means you’re likely to find the model that’s just right for you too, whether you’re concerned with fuel economy or performance. Diesels start with the 1.6-litre 136bhp and go up to the 2.1-litre, which will return 204bhp in the C25OD model.
The C300H hybrid model combines a four cylinder 204bhp diesel engine with a 27bhp electric motor and is capable of up to 78.5mpg.
The standard petrol engine is the 184bhp C200; for the performance model, the C43 AMG has a twin turbo V6 engine and will return an impressive 376bhp.
These three compact executive cars offer a great choice for those after the luxury of a high-quality German saloon, but in a smaller model. The Mercedes, Audi and BMW all offer style, performance and interior quality in a smaller vehicle – and with many recent models available for under £20,000, they represent great value, too.