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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...

Used test: BMW 5 Series Touring vs Jaguar XF Sportbrake

The Contenders

BMW 5 Series Touring 520d xDrive M Sport

List price when new £44,075

Price today  £27,000*

Available from 2017-present

The 5 Series Touring is both spacious and plush, which could be a potentially unbeatable combination.

Jaguar XF Sportbrake 25d AWD R-Sport

List price when new  £44,600

Price today £26,500*

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

There are still many for whom there is no substitute for an estate car. True, the SUV may have taken over as the family transport of choice, but for those who value the superior driving dynamics and the versatility of a good, old-fashioned wagon there's still plenty of choice on the market. 

Take a look at the BMW 5 Series Touring. It’s a premium-badged estate car that has a cosseting ride, cavernous boot and tidy handling. It takes all the good qualities of the regular saloon and adds in a larger and more practical rear end. 

The same could all be said for the car we're pitching it against here: the Jaguar XF Sportbrake. The British brand’s premium estate appears to have, on paper, just about everything the 5 Series has, with its impressive practicality, 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.

To add even more spice to this test, both cars here are three years old. Bought at this age they’ll both save you a pretty penny on the price of a new one. But which one to choose? Read on to find out. 


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

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.

New Jaguar XF Sportbrake vs BMW 5 Series Touring

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.

New Jaguar XF Sportbrake vs BMW 5 Series Touring

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 (we do recommend looking for a used car with this option fitted, but alas take up was rare, so you may have a job). 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.

Next: What are they like inside? >>

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