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Used test: Audi A7 vs BMW 5 Series vs Jaguar XF
These three cars major in luxury, yet at seven years old they'll each save you more than £30,000 off new. Which is the best used buy? We find out...
Audi A7 Sportback 3.0 TDI 272 quattro SE Executive
List price when new £50,755
Price today £18,000*
Available from 2010-2017
Though it's super sleek, the A7 remains a practical executive car
BMW 5 Series 530d M Sport Sport Auto
List price when new £44,465
Price today £15,000*
Available from 2010-2017
A class leader for many years, but has the 5 series had its day?
Jaguar XF 3.0 TDV6 S
List price when new £49,945
Price today £17,000*
Available from 2015-present
It has more power than its rivals, plus the XF has a newer design as well
*Price today is based on a 2015 model with average mileage and full service history according to the What Car? Valuation service, correct at time of writing
How do you take your morning coffee – is it a strong espresso or a silky smooth latte? We only ask to gauge your taste in mid-sized luxury cars. If you answered espresso, you might be a BMW 5 Series person, because it's a no-fuss, go-to option in its class. The latte is less so, but it's smoother, just like the elegantly designed Audi A7 Sportback.
If you'd prefer a middle ground, then a Jaguar XF could very well hit the spot. It's classy yet muscular, particularly if you opt for one bearing the S badge. This means a powerful petrol or diesel V6 is present under the bonnet – here we have the latter – giving it sporting appeal.
Opt for a seven year old model and you'll save more than £30,000 off new. The same can be said for its 5 Series and A7 Sportback rivals when used, hence we've brought along six-cylinder diesel versions of each to test against the XF. Which proves the best cup of joe? Read on to find out.
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
While while the XF’s V6 is the most impressive on paper, on our damp test track it was the A7 with its quattro four-wheel drive system that transferred its power to the road most effectively and posted the best 0-60mph time. That said, all three cars will whisk you from 30-70mph similarly briskly, making overtaking easy.
There are greater differences in the way the cars handle, though. The XF's steering is lighter than the 5 Series', but quicker and every bit as precise, giving it the greater sense of agility. The 5 Series certainly no slouch, proving an entertaining and unflustered companion along meandering B-roads, but the XF’s better body control makes it the more entertaining of the two rear-wheel-drive cars.
Audi’s four-wheel drive system enhances the A7’s traction and it works brilliantly on wet and slippery roads, but it’s a shame the car’s steering is a little vague around the straight ahead.
Our XF test car rode on large, optional-when-new 20in alloy wheels, but it still did an impressive job of smoothing out challenging broken roads. There’s a firmness to the way it rides, sure, but it’s compliant enough, never allowing its body to bob about, or the suspension to thump too uncomfortably.
The 5 Series isn’t far behind. Again, our example had optional 19in alloy wheels and lower, stiffer M Sport suspension, though, it doesn’t smother bumps quite as effectively as the XF.
Our A7 test car was fitted with optional sports suspension, and its larger 20in alloy wheels meant the ride was abrupt over expansion joints and cracked surfaces, sending more of a jolt through the car than you get in its rivals. On this evidence, we would recommend sticking with the standard suspension.
The A7 is pleasingly refined, however; its slippery shape helps minimise wind noise at speed, even if there is still some road noise from its large tyres. It’s the 5 Series that is ultimately the quietest, though, keeping engine noise at bay the best, while also shutting out road and wind noise better than the other two cars.
The XF is the worst here for refinement. There’s plenty of road noise from its tyres, and some wind noise too, and it also transmits the most vibrations through the wheel and pedals. On top of that, the engine is the noisiest of the three, being especially gruff at low speeds.
Next: What are they like inside? >>
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