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

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

Mercedes CLA 2020 RHD front right tracking

Our Verdict

The first iteration of the CLA always lacked the polish required to best its rivals, but in its current form, it truly has the ability to challenge the best, with decent handling, a sophisticated infotainment system and a fine driving position. Because it’s a slightly smaller car than its rivals here, you also get greater performance – yet the practicality compromises are tiny.

The A5 Sportback is a fine thing, and may well be the cheapest car of our used trio, but this is reflected in the fact that you get an engine that delivers adequate rather than excellent pace. You don’t get much standard kit, either.

And the XE? Well, the dramatic interior improvements of this facelifted version really help it to stand up to the standards set by its German challengers. It’s easily the most fun to drive, too. Trouble is, it’s up against some super-strong competition here, and it isn't significantly cheaper than the Mercedes for the savings to overcome its frustrating infotainment system. Nor is it significantly sportier to justify the additional expense over the far more practical Audi. It sadly has to finish third here.

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1st – Mercedes CLA

Mercedes CLA driving

For Stonking performance; most equipment; strong on safety; biggest boot
Against Tightest for rear seat space; priciest to buy; mixed quality
Verdict Not the cheapest, but a great all-rounder

What Car? rating four stars out of five

Read our used Mercedes reviews >>

Find a used Mercedes CLA for sale >>

2nd – Audi A5 Sportback

Audi A5 driving

For Intuitive infotainment; best ride; quietest; good fuel economy; roomiest rear seats; practical boot
Against Average pace; least safety kit; so-so reliability
Verdict The most practical car here, but needs a more powerful engine to compete

What Car? rating four stars out of five

Read our full used Audi A5 Sportback review >>

Find a used Audi A5 Sportback for sale >>

3rd – Jaguar XE

Jaguar XE driving

For Sweetest handling; best driving position
Against Tricky to drive smoothly; smallest boot; thirstiest; fiddly infotainment
Verdict The one to have if you value driving above all, but there are too many frustrating shortcomings sadly

What Car? rating three stars out of five

Read our full used Jaguar XE review >>

Find a used Jaguar XE for sale >>

Specification: Audi A5 Sportback 35 TFSI Sport S tronic

Engine size 2.0-litre petrol
List price when new £34,790
Price today £22,178*
Power 148bhp @ 3900-6000rpm
Torque 199lb ft @ 1350-3900rpm
0-60mph 8.8sec
Top speed 139mph
Fuel economy 39.8mpg (Official WLTP combined)
CO2 emissions 135g/km

Specification: Jaguar XE P250 R-Dynamic S

Engine size 2.0-litre petrol
List price when new £35,505
Price today £26,767*
Power 247bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 269lb ft @ 1300-4500rpm
0-60mph 7.3sec
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 36.2mpg (Official WLTP combined)
CO2 emissions 159g/km

Specification: Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 AMG Line Premium

Engine size 2.0-litre petrol
List price when new £35,115
Price today £28,552*
Power 221bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 258lb ft @ 1800-4000rpm
0-60mph 6.8sec
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 40.4mpg (Official WLTP combined)
CO2 emissions 138g/km

*Price today is based on a 2019 model with average mileage and full service history according to the What Car? Valuation service, correct at time of writing