We help choose the ideal car for your needs and your budget...

Age: 63
Budget: maximum of R300 000
Status: Retired
Vehicle type: executive sedan

Requirements

We have a recently retired couple that needs a relatively fresh set of wheels. They're looking for something unique – and have excluded German and Japanese brands – that will see them through retirement. Mileage should be relatively low, but the age isn't too critical.

The vehicle

There are surprisingly few executive sedans available that aren't Teutonic, but we managed to find three from great brands that fit the bill and should provide years of pleasurable motoring.

Our choice: Jaguar XF 3,0 V6 Diesel

0-100 km/h: 8,70 seconds (estimated)
Top speed: 240 km/h
Power: 177 kW
Torque: 500 N.m
CO2: 214 g/km
CAR fuel index: 8,20 L/100 km


The Jaguar XJ is supremely stately, but there are very few around and the prices for low-mileage examples are outside our budget. There are many XFs available, however, and this remains a great vehicle. The choice of powertrains is large, including a 3,0-litre V6 in petrol or turbodiesel form, plus a 5,0-litre V8. Earlier on, the 2,7-litre diesel was dropped, and near the end of its lifecycle a 2,2-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel was added and the car facelifted. We’d recommend the impressive 3,0 V6 diesel for its refinement, power and frugality. On that note, a search on Gumtree revealed that 70% of the stock is diesel-powered.

When launched, the design was innovative, with many clever, original features, including vents that swivelled open and a rotating gear knob. To quote our original road test, "Facia design that is unlike anything Jaguar has done before. The result is breathtaking and ergonomically superior". The XF also sports a well-sized boot measuring 304 dm3, with folding rear seats taking the utility figure to 1 000 dm3. Rear seat space isn't the greatest, but that shouldn't worry our customers.

Watch out for rapid rear disc and pad wear, as well as brake shudder, and remember that the diesels prefer longer trips to avoid clogging of the diesel particulate filter. Parts and maintenance costs can be pricey, so buy a lower-mileage example that's still inside the five-year maintenance plan.

Space: 5 seats, 304-1 000 dm3
Safety and aids:  8 airbags, ABS with EBD
Cost of tyres: R15 340
Road test: N/A (5,0 V8; August 2010)

Option 2: Citroën C5 3,0 HDi V6 AT
0 to 100 km/h: 7,90 seconds (estimated)      
Top speed: 243 km/h     
Power: 177 kW
Torque: 450 N.m
CO2: 223 g/km  
CAR fuel index: 8,90 L/100 km


The new price of this second-generation Citroën C5 in 2010 was R465 000, but now you can snap up decent ones for about R125 000. There aren't many around, but take your time to look and you'll snag a well-maintained example with relatively low mileage. Although the four-cylinder turbodiesel that was also offered boasts an already impressive 120 kW of power, even better is the unstressed 3,0-litre V6 turbodiesel with 177 kW and 450 N.m of torque. Citroëns are somewhat left of field, design-wise, and the C5, with its striking proportions, is no exception.

Generally, Citroëns offer sumptuous seating, and nowhere is this truer than in the cabin of the C5. The seats are wide and soft, and the rear bench, too, is luxuriously padded and there’s sufficient room for the kids when they visit. The boot space is close to that of the Volvo S80 at 394 dm3. The driving experience is fuss-free thanks to light steering, innovative, absorbent suspension and a smooth-shifting six-speed transmission.

The C5 offered a five-year/100 000 km service plan as standard, and some models will still be covered. Finding parts for these cars could be a problem, as not many were sold, but locating the services of a Citroën specialist could be of great help. C5 owners’ complaints circled mainly around electrical issues, particularly electric window failures, but those were rare.

Space: 5 seats, 394-1 098 dm3
Safety and aids: 7 airbags, ABS with EBD and BAS
Cost of tyres: R13 240
Road test: N/A

Option 3: Volvo S80 D5 Geartronic
0 to 100 km/h: 7,80 seconds (estimated)
Top speed: 225 km/h
Power: 158 kW
Torque: 440 N.m
CO2: 210 g/km
CAR fuel index: 7,32 L/100 km


This is a well-designed vehicle that continues to impress to this day, even with after the launch of its successor, the S90. With Saab having disappeared from the scene, it’s great to see Volvo flourishing under Geely’s stewardship. The S80 initially offered a 224 kW 3,0-litre six and a 2,4-litre turbodiesel, and later a 2,0-litre turbopetrol model was added (the T5 developing 177 kW). Further along its timeline, Volvo supplemented the D5-badged 2,4-litre turbo-diesel with a 2,0-litre version designated D3.

The powerful 158 kW/440 N.m (later-version D5) is our choice for its excellent fuel consumption. Be aware, though, that this engine is complex and so, like the other two cars here, it’s imperative that you find one with relatively low mileage. Luggage capacity is 408 dm3, and utility space 1 120 dm3, the best among these three.

The ride is cosseting for long-distance cruising and seating is comfy in true Volvo character. Offered locally into 2013, you’ll find versions that still have an active maintenance plan, suggesting good care was taken by Volvo dealers with the brand’s flagship sedan. Remember that timing belts and tensioners need replacing after 100 000 km, or four years. Some owners shorten this interval to 80 000 km, as there have been some reports of failures before the specified mileage. Better to be safe than sorry.

Space: 5 seats, 408-1 120 dm3
Safety and aids: 8 airbags, ABS/EBD
Cost of tyres: R9 800
Road test: N/A

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