If your heart’s ruling your head, don’t be surprised if you end up with a Jaguar XF Sportbrake on your drive. The XF is the most appealing car here, whether in terms of its stylish exterior, its spangly interior, or the way it involves you in the driving experience like no other estate car.
The problem is, it doesn’t quite deliver the feeling of luxury it promises, thanks to some disappointingly cheap-feeling interior fittings. Added to that, the numbers just don’t stack up; the XF just isn’t that cheap to buy, and its relatively inefficient engine means the hits to your wallet will just keep on coming. As a result, it has to finish last.
The Audi A6 Avant is just as expensive to buy as the XF, but at least it feels like the pricier car from the driver’s seat, thanks to a beautifully finished interior with some lovely materials. Its engine, too, feels classier than the Jaguar’s rather rattly 2.2-litre unit.
But as fine a car as the A6 is in its own right, it isn’t the best car here. That steep rear screen makes it less capable of swallowing bulkier loads, while the Multitronic automatic gearbox is disappointingly sluggish in use. The Audi also rides a touch too firmly at low speeds, and unlike the Jaguar XF, it doesn’t quite have the handling panache to make up for it.
So, in the final reckoning, the Audi has to lose out to the BMW 5 Series. It’s better to drive than its German rival, even without the optional variable dampers, not to mention more comfortable. What’s more, it’s gearbox is snappier, it’s even quieter on the move, it’s the cheapest car here both to buy and to run, and it has a vast boot.
True, it doesn’t have an interior as classy as the Audi’s – though it really isn’t far off – and nor does it have an exterior as stylish as the Jaguar’s – though again, the BMW’s still a handsome car. But there really is very little else to dislike about the 5 Series Touring. And what with everything it offers, it takes an easy victory here. Still want that Focus?
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1st – BMW 5 Series Touring
For Luxurious and practical interior; quiet and smooth; great economy
Against Variable Damper Control makes this car, and it’s rare
Verdict A classy and versatile luxury estate that offers a superb blend of performance, isolation, and low running costs
2nd – Audi A6 Avant
For Beautifully crafted interior; strong, smooth and economical V6 engine
Against Sluggish Multitronic gearbox; firm low-speed ride; steeply angled rear screen
Verdict It can’t match the BMW’s brilliance, but the A6 Avant is still mighty impressive
3rd – Jaguar XF Sportbrake
For Great to drive; well equipped; good at suppressing wind and road noise
Against Shallow boot; disappointing interior quality; expensive to buy
Verdict Looks great, drives even better, but it doesn’t feel high-quality inside – and it’s pricey
Specifications: BMW 520d Touring SE auto
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
List price when new £34,080
Price today £16,000
Torque 280lb ft
Top speed 130mph
Fuel economy 57.6mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 129g/km
Specifications: Audi A6 Avant 3.0 TDI 204 SE Multitronic
Engine size 3.0-litre diesel
List price when new £38,085
Price today £17,000
Torque 295lb ft
Top speed 135mph
Fuel economy 54.3mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 136g/km
Specifications: Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2.2D 200 Luxury
Engine size 2.2-litre diesel
List price when new £36,440
Price today £17,000
Torque 332lb ft
Top speed 129mph
Fuel economy 52.0mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 135g/km
Price today is based on a 2012 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
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