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It’s a dilemma that faces business drivers across the UK. You have around £25,000 to spend on a new sal***oon and you want something that’s going to stand out in the company car park. But what do you go for: a range-topping family model with all the trimmings or an image-conscious compact executive?

We’ve mentioned on previous occasions that Peu***geot’s 407 looks as stylish as many supposedly more upmarket small luxury saloons, but does it perform as well? Here it gets the chance to put that theory to the test. It now comes with the same 2.7-litre V6 HDi diesel that’s seen service in the Jaguar S-Type and Land Rover Discovery, while GT has replaced Executive spec, bring***ing the saloon more in line with the firm’s 407 Coupé.

Facing the 407 is Lexus’s IS220d. A competitive machine, it’s well equipped and has the Japanese company’s leg***endary reliability and quality to fall back on. What we want to find out is which is better for quality, refinement, desirability and running costs. Put simply, is a top-line family saloon as capable as a compact executive?
 
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