Audi A4 2.0 TDI 120 SE
Target Price 21,490
Classy, spacious and more than 1500 cheaper than the 3 Series and C-Class.
This 118bhp diesel is no road rocket, but you'll forgive it when you fill up with juice or renew your tax disc.
Better still, the A4's desirability means it'll lose value more slowly than any other compact exec, and SE trim means plenty of kit 17-inch alloys, auto lights and wipers, and a 10-speaker stereo system come as standard.
BMW 520d SE
Target Price 24,986
Average economy 55.4mpg
It isn't quite as accomplished as the Jag, but this 2.0-litre diesel is 6500 cheaper to buy and miles cheaper to run. What's more, it's brilliant to drive and impressively refined.
There's no need to step above entry-level SE trim it's well specced and gets trimmings such as cruise control and parking sensors as standard.
Audi A6 2.0 TDI 170 SE
Target Price 24,456
Cheaper than the 5 Series to buy and beautifully made with it.
This relatively new 2.0-litre diesel is the best bet if you're on a budget. It isn't quite the cheapest A6 or the most frugal, but the lower-powered e version is a bit too weedy to get the nod.
SE trim has enough goodies to keep us happy including cruise control and leather seats. Worth a look if you aren't keen on the BMW.