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Saloon buying guide

These days, the lines between saloons and some larger hatchbacks are a little blurred. Many cars that look like saloons technically have hatchback boot openings – for example, the Audi A5 Sportback or BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. The distinction here is whether the rear window glass lifts with the boot lid, or if it remains in place. The former usually allows a little more room to load items into the boot, while the latter fully separates the boot from the cabin, which can reduce road noise.

While saloons aren’t the sales leaders they once were, there are still plenty of popular models to choose from, particularly towards the more premium end of the sales spectrum. The likes of the Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series saloons have all demonstrated their enduring popularity, along with upmarket rivals rivals such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Volvo S60, Tesla Model 3 and Jaguar XE.

Saloons continue to be offered as you go further upmarket with the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class and Audi A6 making up the bulk of executive car sales. At the top end of the market, you’ll find full-fat luxury saloons such as the Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch that high, you might want to consider more affordable saloon options such as the Ford Mondeo or Peugeot 508.

Still unsure which saloon to buy? We've chosen 10 of the best saloon cars you can buy today.

Browse popular saloon cars by manufacturer

Your questions about saloons answered

Saloon cars often make great all-rounders, potentially suiting many different types of buyer. They usually have cabins large enough to fit adults in every seat, plus the extra space means there’s more room to manoeuvre bulky child seats into position. You usually get a decent amount of boot space, too, thanks to the extra length compared with a hatchback.

SUVs might be the default choice now for family buyers, but there are a handful of reasons you might want to consider a saloon instead. For one, saloons are usually lower to the ground and more aerodynamic, meaning they often handle better than SUVs with less body roll, and use a little less fuel in the process. Plus, saloons are usually a little lighter than an equivalent SUV which, again, improves handling and reduces fuel consumption. Naturally, the trade-off here is less ground clearance than an SUV but, if you’re not planning on driving off road, that won’t matter.

Discover more and explore our pick of the top 10 saloons to buy.

In general, yes – saloons make great family cars. You’ll usually find plenty of space inside for people and cargo, and they’re often more fun and more efficient on the road than an equivalent SUV.

Where saloons can slightly struggle compared with SUVs is for buyers with large families. If you need seven seats, you’ll be stuck with either SUV or MPV options because saloons only seat up to five. A saloon might also be a less-than-ideal choice if you have hobbies that regularly require lots of cargo room, such as cycling, kayaking or skiing – you might find a slightly taller SUV will more easily accommodate bulky items in the boot.

No, saloon cars are not dead and don’t look like they’ll be going anywhere any time soon. The reason for suggestions like this are because SUVs have mostly replaced saloons as the default family car choice, which has caused several mass-market brands such as Ford, Citroen or SEAT to abandon the segment entirely in Europe.

Saloons remain both common and popular as you look to the more premium end of the market, however. Perennial saloon favourites including the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 have gone from strength to strength, along with their larger siblings including the likes of the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes S-Class.

While there’s nothing stopping you from buying a saloon as your first car, they’re not the most common choice. The majority of learners tend to settle on some kind of hatchback for their first car rather than a saloon.

Saloons are usually longer than hatchbacks, which can make them slightly harder to park – especially if you’re a new driver still getting to grips with parking manoeuvres. This problem can be exaggerated by the fact that a saloon’s bodywork tends to stretch some way beyond the rear window, making it harder to gauge where the back of the car is, compared to a hatchback which usually doesn’t stretch far beyond the rear window.

As a new driver, you’ll also face some of the highest insurance costs on the road, so picking a first car from a low insurance group can make the difference between cover being affordable or being priced off the road. Saloons tend to fall into higher insurance groups, which means they usually cost more to insure than smaller, cheaper hatchbacks.

The honest answer here is ‘it depends’. If your priority is space and you’re not sold on buying an SUV, you might find a saloon is the perfect choice for you.

Most hatchbacks are smaller than a typical saloon, so offer less interior space and cargo room. However, they tend to fight back with a lower purchase price, so it’s important to weigh up exactly how far your budget can stretch and how much interior space you’re likely to need.