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Used test: Audi A5 Sportback vs Jaguar XE vs Mercedes CLA: costs

The Audi A5 Sportback, Jaguar XE and Mercedes CLA all combine rakish good looks with surprising practicality, but which is the best used buy?...

New Jaguar XE & Mercedes CLA vs Audi A5 Sportback

Buying and owning

Costs, equipment, reliability, safety

It would appear that the A5 has lost the most value compared with its rivals here. The upside is that it's the cheapest to buy, at £22,000, but this also suggests it might lose you the most money in the long run – if it continues to depreciate at its current rate.

The XE comes in at £26,000, while the CLA will set you back £28,000. There is one caveat with that latter figure, though, and it's that you'll struggle to pin down a CLA 250 example (like our test car) with that budget, because they are rare on the used market right now. We'd recommend looking to the CLA 200 for more choice at lower cost.

Audi A5 Coupe RHD centre console

As standard, each car gets 18in alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, cruise control, heated front seats, keyless start and climate control (three-zone in the A5, so that rear passengers can set a different temperature). The CLA tested here adds tinted windows and keyless entry.

The A5 and CLA get artificial leather seats, whereas the XE’s are made of the real stuff. Then again, Jaguar was alone in charging for power-folding door mirrors.

As for safety aids, all three get automatic emergency braking, but the CLA and XE add lane-keeping assistance. Euro NCAP has rated the CLA as a five-star car because it provides excellent protection for not only adult and child occupants but also vulnerable road users outside the vehicle. The XE and A5 were tested in 2015, when the rules were less stringent; the A5 scored better for child protection, while the XE edged it for adult protection.

Mercedes CLA crash test

Historically, Jaguar has often come up short against its German competition in terms of reliability, but the tide seems to be turning, according to the latest What Car? Reliability Survey. In petrol form, the XE placed seventh out of 18 cars in the executive car class, while the petrol A4 ranked ninth; the A5 Sportback was absent. The CLA also didn't feature, although the car on which it's based did. Unfortunately, the A-Class came last out of 24 cars in the family car class. 

All three brands ranked close to each other – and didn't fare particularly well – with Audi ranking 18th out of 30 manufacturers, while Jaguar came 21st and Mercedes 22nd.