Used test: BMW 5 Series Touring vs Jaguar XF Sportbrake
If you're after a plush, four-wheel-drive estate car at a bargain price look no further than a used example of one of these two. But which is the better buy? We have the answer.....
List price when new £44,075
Price today £27,000
Available from 2017-present
This excellent estate is cavernous and plush. It has beaten all in its path so far.
List price when new £44,600
Price today £26,200
Available from 2018-present
Jaguar’s premium wagon promises the same brilliant handling as the saloon it’s derived from.
Price today is based on a 2018 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
Take a stroll through the Bavarian countryside at this time of year and there’s a good chance you’ll be trudging over crisp, freshly fallen snow, clutching at your lederhosen and longing for a warming Bratwurst.
Transport in such conditions doesn’t come much better than a four-wheel-drive version of another icon of Bavaria, the BMW 5 Series Touring. It’s currently the best premium-badged estate car you can buy, thanks to its cosseting ride, cavernous boot and tidy handling.
But from the middle of an altogether greyer Midlands comes a low-slung rival: the Jaguar XF Sportbrake. The British brand’s premium estate appears to have, on paper, just what it takes to steal the 5 Series’ crown, with impressive practicality, a powerful engine and, if the XF saloon is anything to go by, entertaining handling.
The 25d version of the XF we’re testing here has four-wheel drive as standard, making it a great match for the 5 Series xDrive, especially since both cars also have 2.0-litre diesel engines and automatic gearboxes as standard. Bought at just under a couple of years old, as here, they’ll both save you a pretty penny on the price of a new one, too - a great saving of £17,000 can easily be had on either car. But which one to choose? Read on to find out.
What are they like to drive?
Start the cars and you’ll immediately notice a difference. While the 5 Series’ diesel engine gently stirs into life and thrums away in the background, the XF’s coughs and splutters in a rather more agricultural manner. In fact, refinement is a real strong point for the 5 Series across the board because, as well as substantially less engine noise, there’s less wind and road noise at faster speeds.
But it’s not all about how these cars isolate you from the outside world. Both accelerate off the line in similarly grippy fashion, and it’s only in flat-out acceleration that the XF’s extra 50bhp becomes noticeable as it starts to pull away. The 5 Series isn’t remotely sluggish, but overtaking is quicker and easier in the XF.
Both cars actually employ the same basic eight-speed automatic gearbox, but the 5 Series’ is better integrated. Its shifts are always smooth and slick, whereas the XF’s dithers more when pulling out of junctions or onto roundabouts and generally seems less certain about which gear it ought to be in.
The XF has the edge when it comes to handling, though. Its steering is noticeably sharper and the car generally feels a bit more agile than the 5 Series, staying more upright through corners. But the 5 Series is still incredibly grippy in the bends, and it feels more composed and planted on the motorway. Both cars’ four-wheel-drive systems ensure there’s plenty of traction on snaking roads, even in bad weather.
Both estates ride well by class standards, but the 5 Series is more cosseting, especially when fitted with the optional from new Variable Damper Control. It takes a pretty big pothole to unsettle it. The XF, meanwhile, copes with these sort of harsh road imperfections slightly better, but the flipside is a firmer, less relaxing ride the rest of the time.
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