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Used test: BMW 5 Series vs Jaguar XF

Buy either of these two luxury saloons at four years old and you'll save nearly £27,000 on the price of a new one, but should you go BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF?...

BMW 5 Series vs Jaguar XF

The Contenders

BMW 5 Series 530d xDrive M Sport

List price when new £49,265
Price today £23,000*
Available from 2017-present

A used 520d might win all the plaudits for its economy, but the 530d is a super-quick executive express, and well worth a look

Jaguar XF 3.0 V6 Diesel S

List price when new £49,995
Price today £23,000*
Available from 2015-present

Can the Jag's agile handling and sporting pretensions win buyers over from the BMW's sophisticated charms?

*Price today is based on a 2017 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

Here's the rub: buy either of the two splendid luxury saloon cars new and they'll cost you a very large sum of money indeed. Buy them as we're testing them here today, at four years old, and on either car you'll save yourself well over half the price of a new one. Tempted? So are we, hence the test.

The BMW 5 Series has always been one of our very favourite cars. It's classy, uber-competent and fulfils nearly all the duties a luxury car should. If you're looking for a used bargain, you might naturally shop for the economical 520d version. But here, we've added a bit more oomph by going for the 530d model, which has a larger and more powerful 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine under the bonnet. This gives it both crushing pace and reasonable economy. 

BMW 5 Series

The Jaguar XF is another of our favourites. With its almost sports-car-like handling and potent engine, could a similarly specced and similarly used example of this creamiest of big cats actually be a match for its German rival?

Which one should you go for? Read on to find out. 


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). This 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.

This extra traction largely explains why the 5 Series was faster away from the mark in our tests. Plant your right foot and it surges to 30mph with no drama at all, whereas the rear-wheel-drive-only XF tends to spin its rear wheels as it struggles to transfer its power to the road – especially in the damp. Once you’re on the move, though, both saloons accelerate similarly briskly, so only a gentle squeeze of your right foot is needed to blast past slower-moving traffic.

Jaguar XF

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 altogether more grown-up. It doesn’t react as eagerly when you turn the wheel – even if you find a car that’s had the integral active steering option added, a feature that 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.

BMW 5 Series vs Jaguar XF cornering

What’s more, the 5 Series can actually 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, because it means you’ll always arrive at your destination feeling more relaxed.

Ride comfort is arguably the most important trait of a luxury car, and the 5 Series doesn’t disappoint. True, our test car benefited from yet another option – the Variable Damper Control suspension – but 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 used car with this option fitted, but be warned alas not many were from new. The XF is by no means uncomfortable, but you feel more of the bumps when driving over them, no matter what the speed.

Next: What are they like inside?>>

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