Used test: BMW 5 Series vs Audi A6 vs Mercedes E-Class vs Jaguar XF

The BMW 530d has always been one of our very favourite cars – but is a used 5 Series a better buy than its rivals from Audi, Mercedes and Jaguar?

Words By What Car? team

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Used Audi A6 with BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF and Mercedes E-Class

Our Verdict

The great news is that every one of these cars is a corker. You won’t be unhappy whichever one you choose.

The Audi A6 has a stunning cabin and a strong engine, as well as running costs that are easy on the wallet. The problem is, unless you can find a car with the rare air suspension option, you have to put up with the least settled ride, as well as quite a bit of wind and road noise, which rather spoils the relaxed ambience a luxury car should offer.

It’s also not that much fun, and while it’ll lose you the least money, you’ll have to fork out the most to buy it in the first place. It also looks to be the least reliable car here. For those reasons, it finishes in last place in this test, but only by a whisker.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is even less perky to drive, but quieter and more comfortable than an Audi on standard suspension. It’s also a whole heap cheaper to buy, it has the best reputation for reliability here, and it’s endowed with a fantastic engine that delivers super-strong performance.

All good reasons to buy it, but it’s beaten into third place here as a result of its less-special-feeling interior and high maintenance costs.

It’s a toss-up for first place between the BMW and the Jaguar. The BMW is the best all-rounder here, with a quiet, luxurious-feeling interior, plenty of space and a fantastic engine.

Its problem is that it’s pretty average to drive unless you can find an example endowed with the Adaptive Drive system – and that’s easier said than done. It’s also the second most expensive car here, and not all that cheap to service and maintain either.

So it takes second place, with a caveat. If you can find one with the optional suspension package, snap it up.

The likelihood is, however, that you won’t – which is why first place falls to the Jaguar. You’ll have to live with some cheaper-feeling interior plastics than the rest, not to mention that infuriating touchscreen. You’ll also pay more to fuel it than it’s rivals, and you’ll lose more on it come resale time.

But the XF makes up for that by being cheap to buy and to service. But more than that, it offers something different to the rest, majoring on style and panache and appealing more to the heart than any other car here.

Fortunately, there’s substance there to back that up, too; it is by far the most exciting car to drive here, not to mention the most comfortable, and you don’t have to find a car fitted with the most expensive options to enjoy that fantastic blend of ride and handling. For that reason, it just pips the BMW to first place.

Read our review of the all-new BMW 5 Series

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1st – Jaguar XF

For Outstanding blend of fun, comfort and tranquility; cheap to buy and maintain

Against Least practical; some cheap trim; highest fuel consumption

Verdict Wonderful to drive and cheap to buy, a used XF is an absolute delight

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used Jaguar XF review

Find a used Jaguar XF in the What Car? Classifieds

2nd – BMW 5 Series

For Sensational pace; opulent interior; user-friendly dash

Against Expensive to buy; hard to find with the must-have adaptive suspension

Verdict A very good luxury car, elevated to greatness only with rare options

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used BMW 5 Series review

Find a used BMW 5 Series in the What Car? Classifieds

3rd – Mercedes E-Class

For Cheapest to buy; low running costs; storming performance

Against Dour interior; least enjoyable to drive; fiddly controls

Verdict There’s plenty to recommend the Merc, but it satisfies rather than excels

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used Mercedes-Benz E-Class review

Find a used Mercedes-Benz E-Class in the What Car? Classifieds

4th – Audi A6

For Stunning quality; best fuel economy; brilliant engine; roomy

Against High price; too much road noise; light steering; abrupt ride

Verdict Classy and affordable to run, but it isn’t worth the extra it costs

Rated 3 out of 5

Read the full used Audi A6 review

Find a used Audi A6 in the What Car? Classifieds

Also consider:

Specifications: Audi A6 3.0 TDI quattro SE S tronic

Engine size 3.0-litre turbo diesel

List price when new Β£39,100

Price today Β£16,000*

Power 242bhp

Torque 369lb ft

0-60mph 6.2sec

Top speed 147mph

Fuel economy 47.1mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 158g/km

Specifications: BMW 530d SE auto

Engine size 3.0-litre turbo diesel

List price when new Β£40,220

Price today Β£15,500*

Power 241bhp

Torque 398lb ft

0-60mph 6.4sec

Top speed 144mph

Fuel economy 46.3mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 160g/km

Specifications: Jaguar XF

Engine size 3.0-litre turbo diesel

List price when new Β£39,900

Price today Β£14,500*

Power 271bhp

Torque 443lb ft

0-60mph 7.0sec

Top speed 147mph

Fuel economy 42.0mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 179g/km

Specifications: Mercedes-Benz E350 CDI Blue Efficiency Avantgarde

Engine size 3.0-litre turbo diesel

List price when new Β£37,505

Price today Β£14,000*

Power 261bhp

Torque 457lb ft

0-60mph 6.6sec

Top speed 152mph

Fuel economy 45.6mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 162g/km

(Guide price for a 2011 example with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing)

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