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Used test: BMW 3 Series vs Jaguar XE interiors

The BMW 3 Series is tough to beat, especially used, but should you be swayed by the suave Jaguar XE? It's available for the same money...

BMW 3 Series interior

Interiors

Driving position, visibility, build quality, practicality

The BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE have traditional saloon driving positions, so you sit fairly low with your legs stretched out. Our only real gripe with the XE is that its seat doesn’t provide enough shoulder support to stop you sliding around in corners. That said, the 3 Series originally demanded a premium for electric driver’s seat adjustment and adjustable lumbar support, coming in at £265 when new.

These cars have plenty of visibility aids: front and rear parking sensors, as well as a rear-view camera. They’re both a little tricky to see out of, though, because they have rather thick pillars. 

Jaguar XE interior

The XE's infotainment was improved during a facelift, but it’s nothing spectacular by modern executive car standards. The 10.0in touchscreen is a bit fiddly to use while driving and the screen resolution could be better. You get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring: the 3 Series has the former, yet it lacks the latter.

The 3 Series otherwise has the better infotainment set-up, featuring a super-sharp 12.3in screen. The system is easier to use, largely because it can be controlled by touch or by a handy dial between the front seats. 

BMW 3 Series boot

Interior quality is close between our two contenders, with plenty of high-quality materials everywhere and scratchy plastics only employed in certain places you rarely touch – the bottoms of the door bins, for instance. Points for build quality go to the 3 Series, though. Its interior feels comprehensively solid, while some pieces of trim in the XE, including the gloss black areas on the centre console, have some give when you prod them.

You aren’t going to have a problem fitting into the front of either of our contenders, even if you’re well over six feet tall. However, there are bigger differences when it comes to rear seat space, with the 3 Series having more leg and head room – the XE is quite tight in regards to the latter.  

Jaguar XE boot

The 3 Series has the bigger boot, too. We managed to fit seven carry-on suitcases in it, beating the five that the XE swallowed. You'll need to hope the XE's original owner paid £440 extra if you want split-folding rear seats. If they did, the seats would split in a 40/20/40 fashion, which is handier than the 60/40 split some cars have. The 3 Series got 40/20/40 split-folding seats at no extra cost, mind you.