Used test: Audi A5 Sportback vs BMW 3 Series vs Mercedes C-class vs Volkswagen Passat CC

The new Audi A5 Sportback looks just as sleek as its predecessor – but how does the old model measure up as a used buy?

Words By What Car? team

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Audi A5 front

Our Verdict

It’ll probably come as no surprise by now to hear that it’s the Audi A5 Sportback which finishes last in this test. When the model was first launched in 2009, the idea was a good one, and it still is today – but sadly it’s the execution here that’s the problem.

It looks great, of course, and it also has a superb engine that’s quiet and punchy. But it lags behind the other cars here in too many areas for those good points to save it, and its high prices mean it isn’t even great value.

The same can be said for the Mercedes C-Class, though at least there’s a great car hiding behind the high price this time. This generation of Merc’s baby drives well, seats four comfortably and five at a squeeze, and in diesel form, comes with a strong, if rather noisy, engine.

But this is a test of smart-looking compact executives, and that’s why the C-Class is beaten – albeit extremely narrowly – by the Read the full used Volkswagen Passat CC review. It’s around two-thirds the price of the C-Class these days, and it’s certainly not two-thirds the car. True, it has its problems – it isn’t very sporting to drive, it seats only four and both road noise and fuel consumption are concerns.

But against that, the Passat CC is the sprightliest car here, it rides the most comfortably, and it came well equipped as standard. It’s the cheapest to maintain and – just – the cheapest to buy, too, which should mitigate those extra running costs. What’s more, few four-doors look this good at the price, and in this test, that counts for a great deal.

Not enough, however, for the Passat to steal a win from the BMW 3 Series. It might not look as stylish, but it’s a lot more fun to drive. If you can find one with the optional, standard suspension (so to speak), you can enjoy all the looks without the firm ride, and even if you can’t, the 3 Series is still the best choice.

There’s no doubting the hushed ambience inside the 3 Series, or its high-quality dashboard, or indeed the amount of space it offers. And let’s not forget what impressive value it offers these days; it’s barely any more expensive to buy than the Passat, and in terms of badge appeal, there’s really no contest. In this company at least, a used 3 Series really does stand head and shoulders above its rivals.

Read our full review of the all-new Audi A5 Sportback

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1st – BMW 3 Series

For Sensational handling and steering; tranquility; high-quality interior; simple dashboard layout; roomy cabin; fuel economy; value

Against Harsh ride without suspension option; small boot; fiddly seat adjustment

Verdict Cars don’t come much better than this. Great to drive, relaxing to travel in if equipped with the right suspension, cheap to run and beautifully made

Rated 5 out of 5

Read the full used BMW 3 Series review

2nd – Volkswagen Passat CC

For Lively performance; comfortable ride; big boot; cheapest to buy; classy interior; reasonable maintenance costs

Against Only four seats; clumsy in corners; road noise can intrude; poor fuel economy

Verdict Stylish and sleek, the Passat CC has the looks, and it’s great value too. Not the most sporting to drive, but as a comfortable cruiser it’s hard to beat

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used Volkswagen Passat CC review

3rd – Mercedes C-Class

For Strong engine; good ride and handling balance; spacious interior; practical boot

Against Interior doesn’t feel all that special; engine can sound gruff; costliest to buy; 3 Series is more fun

Verdict A great all-rounder that oozes class, drives well and has a punchy engine. If it was a shade cheaper, it’d have come second.

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used Mercedes C-Class review

4th – Audi A5 Sportback

For Hatchback practicality; super-smooth looks; fine engine; standard leather upholstery

Against Poor low-speed ride; vague steering; road noise; awkward driving position; fussy dashboard; only four seats

Verdict A great-looking four-door coupΓ©, but flawed in too many areas, and not cheap to buy either.

Rated 3 out of 5

Read the full used Audi A5 review

Also consider:

Specifications: Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI SE

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

List price when new Β£27,140

Price today Β£6500-Β£38,000

Power 168bhp

Torque 258lb ft

0-60mph 9.4sec

Top speed 136mph

Fuel economy 54.3mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 137g/km

Specifications: BMW 318d M Sport

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

List price when new Β£27,445

Price today Β£2000-Β£21,000

Power 141bhp

Torque 221lb ft

0-60mph 9.2sec

Top speed 127mph

Fuel economy 60.1mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 123g/km

Specifications: Mercedes-Benz C220 CDI Blue Efficiency Sport

Engine size 2.1-litre diesel

List price when new Β£27,758

Price today Β£3000-Β£21,000

Power 168bhp

Torque 295lb ft

0-60mph 9.2sec

Top speed 136mph

Fuel economy 58.9mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 135g/km

Specifications: Volkswagen Passat CC 2.0TDI 170 GT

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

List price when new Β£23,730

Price today Β£3500-Β£35,000

Power 168bhp

Torque 258lb ft

0-60mph 8.7sec

Top speed 131mph

Fuel economy 50.4mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 146g/km

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