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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 for a bargain price, look no further than a used example of one of these two. But which is the better buy?...

BMW 5 Series Touring vs Jaguar XF

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 people for whom there is no substitute for an estate car. True, the SUV may be more fashionable family transport, but for those who value the superior driving dynamics and the versatility of a good, old-fashioned wagon there are still plenty of excellent options. 

Take the BMW 5 Series Touring. It’s a premium-badged estate car that has a cosseting ride and tidy handling. In fact, it takes all of the fine qualities of a saloon BMW 5 Series and adds in a cavernous boot. 

BMW 5 Series Touring front

The same could be said for the car we're pitching it against here: the Jaguar XF Sportbrake. And the 25d version we’ve got here has four-wheel drive as standard, making it a great match for the 520d xDrive, especially since both also have 2.0-litre diesel engines and automatic gearboxes.

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

Jaguar XF Sportbrake front


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 BMW 5 Series Touring 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 Jaguar XF Sportbrake copes with 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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