Jaguar XF vs Audi A6 vs BMW 5 Series

27 Jul, 2016 12:30pm

Can Jaguar’s new XF go straight to the top of the exec class? We test the new 2.0-litre diesel against the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series

Jaguar's range of upmarket saloons just keeps getting better and better. The XE junior exec has already beaten the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 this year, while the larger XF shrugged off the challenge of the Audi A6 when we tested them head-to-head last month. But those two cars featured 3.0-litre V6 diesels, which aren’t as popular as the more efficient 2.0-litre diesel trio we’ve lined up here.

These cars are the bread and butter of company car fleets, so if the XF wants to reign supreme in this hotly contested executive heartland it will have to beat its very strong German rivals once again.

Best executive cars to buy right now

The BMW 520d is a tough opponent, thanks to its blend of strong performance, frugality and upmarket looks. Plus, there’s a good amount of space on offer for the family.

Audi’s A6 Ultra maximises what you can get from a full tank, too, and teams this with usability, power and a sharp design. It reigned supreme in our 2015 New Car Awards, taking the Best Executive Car crown, so the Jag’s got a fight on its hands. 

But with fresher styling and the British brand’s latest 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel, does it have the firepower to pull off the win? 

Head-to-head 

Lights

Lights are a big part of car design, as manufacturers explore new technologies. All three cars here boast smart headlamps and tail-lights so you know exactly what car you’re following in the dark. But clever LED headlights also help improve visibility and safety, so there’s a practical benefit to these design-led developments, too. 

Driving modes

All our cars feature adjustable driving modes to tailor throttle response and steering weight for sportier driving or comfortable long-distance cruising. The systems impact on every model’s character, but the biggest differences come in the Jaguar, where Dynamic, Normal and Eco offer a broad change. 

Rear access

Exec saloons need to cope with modern family life. The old XF struggled when it came to rear access, but the larger doors on the new car have addressed that issue. The BMW and Audi are just as flexible – the A6’s standard powered tailgate helps a lot. 

Verdict

1st place: Jaguar XF

The XF beat the A6 in our V6 diesels test, and it’s conquered the BMW and Audi here in a battle of the more popular 2.0-litre engines. It’s slightly more expensive, but with all running costs considered, the Jag is a real competitor. Plus, it’s fun to drive and boasts superb agility for a car this size. The XF has really improved its usability, while modern styling completes its evolution. 

2nd place: Audi A6

Our 2015 Best Executive Car has been toppled. The A6 is cheaper than the XF, but it can’t match it for overall appeal. Although quality is good, it feels a generation behind the Jag inside, while the A6’s chassis can’t compete in this company. It’s more efficient on paper, but savings for company car buyers will be offset at the pumps, where the XF beats it. 

3rd place: BMW 5 Series

The 5 Series is still great to drive, yet while it’s just got the edge on the Jaguar for ride and handling, the XF is a more appealing package. Here, practicality, kit and efficiency are more important than performance. The A6 Ultra nearly matches the 520d for performance, and offers more kit at a cheaper price, with lower running costs. So the BMW takes the wooden spoon. 

Coming soon

Mercedes E-Class 

Due: Mid 2016  Price: £35,000 (est.)
Engine: 2.1-litre 4cyl, 180bhp (est.)

Mercedes E-Class 2016 exclusive image - front

Mercedes’ new E-Class, coming next year, promises to be a big improvement, with lots of technology borrowed from the luxurious S-Class. With four-cylinder diesel power and plenty of passenger and luggage space, the E-Class could give the XF a run for its money.

Figures

Jaguar XF Prestige 20d 180 Auto Audi A6 2.0 TDI Ultra SE S tronic BMW 520d SE Auto
On-the-road price/total as tested £34,550/£46,520 £33,825/£44,525 £33,915/£39,250
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000) £15,271/44.2% £14,332/42.4% £15,899/46.9%
Depreciation £19,279 £19,493 £18,016
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £1,380/£2,760 £1,283/£2,567 £1,287/£2,573
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £1,335/£2,225 £1,420/£2,367 £1,683/£2,805
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost 27/£557/C/£30 31/£591/B/£20 34/£651/B/£20
Servicing costs £525 (5yrs/50k) £1,029 (3yrs)/£18 p/m £525 (5yrs/50k)
Length/wheelbase 4,954/2,960mm 4,933/2,912mm 4,907/2,968mm
Height/width 1,457/1,880mm 1,455/1,874mm 1,464/1,860mm
Engine 4cyl in-line/1,999cc 4cyl in-line/1,968cc 4cyl in-line/1,995cc
Peak power  178/4,000 bhp/rpm 187/3,800 bhp/rpm 187/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque  430/1,750 Nm/rpm 400/1,750 Nm/rpm 400/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission  8-spd auto/rwd 7-spd auto/fwd 8-spd auto/rwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 66 litres/repair kit 73 litres/space-saver 70 litres/run-flat
Boot capacity (seats up/down)  540/963 litres 530/995 litres 520/N/A litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight 1,595/655/2,000kg 1,660/580/2,000kg 1,705/610/2,000kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient 11.6 metres/N/A 11.9 metres/N/A 12.0 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs 3yrs (60,000)/3yrs 3yrs (unltd)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers 21,000 miles (2yrs)/97 Variable/121 36,000 miles (2yrs)/153
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 2nd/3rd 13th/25th 14th/23rd
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars 92/84/80/83/5 (2015) 91/83/41/86/5 (2011) 95/83/78/100/5 (2010)
0-60/30-70mph 9.3/8.6 secs  8.5/7.3 secs 8.4/7.6 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th  3.1/3.6secs 2.8/3.9 secs 2.9/3.4 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th  5.1/6.4/8.2/15.0 secs 6.0/10.1/30.3/N/A secs 4.8/6.2/7.9/14.8 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph  136mph/1,700rpm 144mph/1,400rpm 145mph/1,700rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph  67.4/45.7/10.7m 66.9/44.3/11.9m 67.9/51.2/11.3m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph 75/52/63/69dB 76/52/62/68dB 76/52/63/69dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range 45.0/9.9/653 miles 42.3/9.3/679 miles 35.7/7.9/550 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined  54.3/74.3/65.7mpg 60.1/72.4/67.3mpg 57.6/76.3/68.9mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined  11.9/16.3/14.5mpl 13.2/15.9/14.8mpl 12.7/16.8/15.2mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 168/114g/km/20% 179/109g/km/19% 212/109g/km/19%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/camera Six/yes/yes/£355 Six/yes/yes/£810* Six/yes/yes/£375
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise control Yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seats Yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/£320 Yes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go £675/yes/£500 £675/yes/£1,180** £675/yes/£695
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/MP3 Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes