Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series vs Jaguar XE

Low CO2 emissions make the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE tempting company cars, but which is the best all-rounder?

Words By What Car? team

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Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE

Our verdict

Choosing between the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series had us agonising over every detail. They’re so close on so many fronts that we could virtually just shrug and just say 'pick the one you like the look of – they’re both equally excellent'.

That’s not particularly helpful, though, so ultimately the A4 is our pick of the two. It’s the quieter and more comfortable, so promises to leave you feeling fresh even after a long journey, which is no small matter in a car that’s likely to do marathon miles on a regular basis. It's also roomier, more fuel efficient and cheaper for private buyers – particularly those buying on PCP finance.

  • 'The latest A4 is a great choice if you do marathon miles on a regular basis'

Even so, it’s easy to see why you might opt for the 3 Series instead, given its superior performance, more enjoyable handling, standard leather seats and slightly more intuitive infotainment system. It’s rewarding and easy to live with, particularly when fitted with an automatic gearbox.

The shock result here for many will be the Jaguar XE finishing last. It’s still competitive on most fronts, excellent in terms of its safety equipment and has the finest steering here, so if you value driving fun over everything else it’s well worth considering. However, this model's engine is noiser than those of more powerful XEs we’ve tried, to the extent that it just isn’t as refined as it should be.

It also falls short of the performance and interior quality feel that many will expect. These factors, plus an occasionally frustrating infotainment system, mean it has to finish last in this test.

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1st – Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 Ultra Sport

ForRefined; comfortable; great company car and private costs

Against Slightly lifeless steering; no leather upholstery as standard

Verdict Only just beats the BMW, thanks to its balance of refinement and low costs

Rated 5 out of 5

Read the full Audi A4 review

2nd – BMW 320d ED Plus auto

For Slick auto 'box; keen handling; potent performance

Against Pricey PCP costs; not as economical as A4

Verdict Great to drive and sit in, but pricier than the A4

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full BMW 3 Series reivew

3rd – Jaguar XE 2.0d 163 Prestige

For Lovely handling poise and driving position

Against Unrefined; feels a touch cheap in areas

Verdict Fun and desirable, but falls short in key areas

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full Jaguar XE review

Specifications: Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 Ultra Sport

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

List price Β£30,550

Target Price Β£27,638

Power 148bhp

Torque: 236lb ft

0-60mph 9.4sec

Top speed 130mph

Fuel economy 56.9mpg

CO2 emissions 99g/km

Specifications: BMW 320d ED Plus auto

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

List price Β£32,220

Target Price Β£29,705

Power 161bhp

Torque 295lb ft

0-60mph 7.6sec

Top speed 143mph

Fuel economy 49.1mpg

CO2 emissions 99g/km

Specification: Jaguar XE 2.0d 163 Prestige

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

List price Β£30,775

Target Price Β£28,434

Power 161bhp

Torque 280lb ft

0-60mph 9.5 sec

Top speed 132mph

Fuel economy 50.8mpg

CO2 emissions 99g/km

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