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Used test: BMW 5 Series vs Jaguar XF interiors

Pick up either of these two luxury saloons at six years old and you'll save around £30,000 off its price when new, but should you go BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF?...

BMW 5 Series


Driving position, visibility, build quality, practicality

If you’re expecting your luxury saloon to offer a super-classy interior to while away the hours in, think twice before choosing the Jaguar XF. Yes, its dashboard is mostly soft to the touch and there’s plenty of leather (on the seats, steering wheel and even parts of the dashboard), but nothing feels particularly plush or expensive. Some of the buttons, knobs and switches are actually surprisingly flimsy.

You won’t have any such gripes when you get behind the wheel of the BMW 5 Series. Few cars in any price bracket have such well-appointed interiors. You’ll find top-quality materials everywhere you look, with build quality that would shame a nuclear bunker.

Jaguar XF

The 5 Series has the better infotainment system too. A 10.2in widescreen is standard and you control it by twisting and pressing a large rotary dial between the front seats. The technique quickly becomes second nature, so it’s a doddle to make phone calls via Bluetooth, tap a destination into the sat-nav or play music on your phone through the car’s stereo.

You might think that the XF’s touchscreen interface would be even more intuitive, but imagine trying to use an iPad while driving and you’ll quickly realise why it isn’t. The fact that our test car's screen is relatively small (8.0in) doesn’t help, because it means some of the icons are fairly hard to hit. We’d advise you to look for a car with the more sophisticated 10.2in Pro system, which responds more quickly.

Jaguar XF

You won’t have any trouble finding a comfortable driving position in either model. The XF’s is lower and more like a sports car’s, with a high window line and a tall centre console fencing you off from your front passenger. The 5 Series’ broader seats and airier driver environment is more like that of a traditional luxury car. However, it’s a pity that BMW charged extra from new for adjustable lumbar support to keep your lower back properly supported on longer trips.

Both cars will carry four adults easily enough, but rear leg room is less generous in the BMW 5 Series. Equally, rear head room could be better in the Jaguar XF (it’s the narrower car), so carrying three people in the back is more of a squeeze. There’s hardly anything in it for outright boot space, though. The 5 Series’ load bay is taller and wider at its widest point, but not quite as long. BMW charged extra for split-folding rear seats, while Jaguar fits them as standard.