The BMW 5 Series was the first model to introduce the controversial ‘flame’ design which divided opinion. We’ve always been fans though, so we were eager to see if the latest design would hit the spot as well. We think BMW has done it right again with a dynamic and thoroughly contemporary design that keeps the 5 on trend.

The new 5 Series comes with a variety of EfficientDynamics technologies. There’s Auto Start-Stop, Optimum Gear Shift Indicator, Brake Energy Regeneration, Active Aerodynamics, and Low Rolling Resistance tires. Plus a next-generation 8-speed automatic transmission with a longer final drive ratio to reduce engine revs at highway speeds helping to achieve great fuel economy.

When it comes to handling, BMW has kept the characteristic 50:50 weight distribution, which together with the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout, makes the 5 Series more agile than its rivals. There’s also no reason to expect anything other than the excellent build quality we’ve grown accustomed to.

The latest Series 5 is more evolutionary than revolutionary, but when you start so close to perfection, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The 520d ED delivers solid real-world performance while achieving fuel economy that puts many city cars to shame. With a brilliant combination of quality, style, performance and driving entertainment, it remains our favorite executive car.

It wasn’t that long ago that Mercedes struggled to get into this guide, but with a new range of high-tech engines that’s about to change. Mercedes may have been the slowest of the German manufacturers to bring fuel-efficient models to market, but the results are impressive.

Gone are the days when you could tell how big a Mercedes engine is just by looking at the badge. As an example, both the E200d and E220d share the same 2.0-litre engine. They even have the same compression ratio (an impressively high 15.5:1, since you ask), so the power difference has more to do with engine management than old-school engineering.

Either engine is more than capable of providing decent pace and given that they achieve the same official fuel consumption, the choice is likely to come down to budget. It’s worth noting that you should stick to the standard 17-inch wheels for best efficiency with larger tyres, resulting in a hefty penalty (up to 10gCO2/km).

To keep the E-Class ahead of the competition, the standard automatic gearbox now includes 9 ratios, which goes some way to explaining the excellent official fuel consumption figures. Left to its own devices, it will move at the highest speed possible, but you can take matters into your own hands if you want to keep going thanks to ‘Dynamic Select’ which provides ECO, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and a combination setting. and combination.

The latest E-Class takes the best aspects of the previous model, but adds state-of-the-art engines and a contemporary interior to keep it fresh. The executive Mercedes has always lagged behind the 5 Series and XF when it comes to driving, but now it’s closer than ever, meaning there’s no longer a default option. Which one you choose will depend on personal taste, as they all represent executive lounges at the top of their game.

Jaguar’s revival has been one of the most surprising stories of recent years. In 2008, Tata bought the brand from Ford, who never really understood what to do with the Jaguar, and made two very important decisions; Jaguar needed investment, and Tata put a lot of cash on the table, but more importantly, it didn’t need management interference.

The XF is the latest confirmation that Tata was absolutely right. Jaguar never forgot how to build contemporary executive sedans, they just weren’t allowed to. The XF takes the fight to the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class head-on and is all the better for it.

Jaguar has invested heavily in integrating aluminum into its production models with fantastic results. The latest XF is significantly lighter than the competition and only 4% heavier than the smallest XE. Such a radical weight loss diet gets a big round of applause from us as it benefits fuel economy, handling and performance.

Along with advanced construction materials, the XF also features a new ‘Ingenium’ engine that finally gives Jaguar a world-class diesel engine. It also contributes to weight loss thanks to even more aluminum and its compact size. At the same time, it is capable of producing impressive power and torque figures that imbue the Jaguar with spirited performance.

There’s never been much of a problem with the way the XF drives or looks, but it’s never had a really efficient engine. With this issue now firmly resolved, the combination of excellent official fuel economy, engaging dynamics, impressively low curb weight and sleek appearance make for a compelling proposition.

The Lexus GS has graced the pages of Green Car Guide for a number of years, but thanks to the performance hybrid focus, Lexus has never really explored the system’s fuel economy potential, preferring instead to compare fuel consumption to its petrol and diesel rivals. light the fuse than chasing diesel figures and diluting performance. That is until now.

The 300h has clearly been designed to take the fight to diesel rivals with fuel economy, performance and price that mimic cutting-edge German offerings. Lexus has long claimed that its gas/electric hybrid system can do everything a diesel can, and the new post has been to “prove” it. It seems like it pays to be careful what you wish for, as on paper the 300h is up to the task and, more surprisingly, this includes the list price.

To extract better fuel economy, some major mechanical changes have been made. Out comes the 3.5-litre petrol engine and in comes a 2.5-litre direct injection unit producing a moderate 178bhp. This is complemented by a detuned electric motor producing an additional 140bhp, giving a very favorable total system output of 220bhp. Drive is still transmitted to the rear wheels via a CVT gearbox which, as always, is great for saving fuel and frustrating if you’re pushing.

So the Lexus may beat diesel rivals for sheer grunt, but what about torque? The gas engine can’t come close, with 163 pound-feet of torque at a lofty 4200 – 5400 rpm, you won’t see which way the competition has gone. But as always with hybrids, that’s only half the story. The electric motor comes to the rescue once again, with a handy 221 lb-ft available from idle that fills in the gaps excellently and keeps the GS 300h on the run.

The GS remains exquisitely finished and is arguably better suited to the low-end system, being competent to drive rather than razor-sharp. The 300h is no more expensive than diesel rivals, has competitive fuel economy and, thanks to petrol emitting less CO2 than diesel, falls into VED band B and attracts substantially lower company car taxes. It also has the advantage of emitting no PM and very little NOx, so diesel rivals must resort to costly exhaust after-treatment. The GS still isn’t perfect, but the 300h is a good enough package to make you think twice about asking for a diesel rival. Looks like Lexus wasn’t kidding after all, petrol hybrids can really take on diesels at their own game.

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