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Used test: BMW 5 Series vs Jaguar XF
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 530d xDrive M Sport
List price when new £49,265
Price today £23,000*
Available from 2017-present
A great balance of performance and fuel economy adds to the 530d's appeal
Jaguar XF 3.0 V6 Diesel S
List price when new £49,995
Price today £20,000*
Available from 2015-present
Has agile handling and more power than its rival, but can the XF do the sensible stuff too?
*Price today is based on a 2017 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
A long car journey is a mental workout. It means hours of concentration as you decide on the right route, contend with traffic and look for somewhere to stop for a coffee break. If that tallies with your experiences on the road and you have a reasonable budget to spend on easing the strain, a used luxury car could very well be the perfect remedy.
Our go-to recommendation is usually the BMW 5 Series because it's classy and very competent. There are also lots of great deals out there, with engine options for most needs. The 520d is great for keeping buying costs low, but you might also be tempted by the 530d featured here. It has a larger, 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engine under its bonnet.
Having said that, the Jaguar XF S gives you even more punch at a lower price, and isn't exactly lacking in prestige. So is it the better choice? Well, to find out, we've gathered six-year-old examples of each – with prices of less than £25,000, by the way – and put them to the test. Read on to find out which model came out on top.
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
New, for the price of a V6 diesel XF, you could have had a 530d with optional four-wheel drive (xDrive). That helps make the car less of a handful than the standard rear-wheel-drive version in slippery conditions, and it’s on the car we’re testing here.
The extra traction largely explains why the 5 Series was quicker off the mark in our tests. When you plant your right foot, it surges to 30mph with no drama, while the rear-wheel-drive-only XF tends to spin its rear wheels as it struggles to transfer its power to the road, especially in damp conditions. Once you’re on the move, both executive saloons accelerate briskly, with only a gentle squeeze of your right foot needed to blast past slower traffic.
Chances are you’ll want your luxury car to pamper you rather than goading you to drive faster all the time. But when a snaking stretch of empty road does open up in front of you, the XF will definitely put the bigger smile on your face.
Its steering is quick, precise and sends plenty of feel to your fingers, while the nose responds instantly to even the tiniest steering inputs.
The 5 Series feels bigger and more grown-up. It doesn’t react as eagerly when you turn the wheel, even if you find a car with the optional integral active steering option, allows the rear wheels to turn slightly to improve agility. The 5 Series never involves you in the experience of going round corners quite as well as the XF, but its steering is far from numb.
The 5 Series can corner at faster speeds than the XF because it grips the road better. It feels more planted at high speeds when going in a straight line too, and isolates you far better from engine, wind and road noise. These are all things you’ll really appreciate if you do lots of motorway miles: it means you’ll arrive at your destination feeling more relaxed.
Ride comfort is arguably the most important trait of a luxury car, and the BMW 5 Series doesn’t disappoint. True, our test car benefited from yet another option – the Variable Damper Control suspension – and with this, it rides the worst of British roads like it’s floating on a magic carpet, smothering potholes and staying beautifully controlled on the motorway. We'd recommend you search for a car that had that option fitted new (sadly not that many did). The Jaguar XF is by no means uncomfortable, but you feel more of the bumps when driving over them, no matter what the speed.
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