BMW 3 Series vs Jaguar XE
BMW has revised its 3 Series in a bid to reclaim its class crown from Jaguar’s XE
Buyers of compact executive saloons have never had it so good. The latest generation of models is the best yet, combining unrivalled premium appeal with engaging driving dynamics and penny-pinching running costs.
The stunning XE has already made its mark on the class. With its blend of sleek looks, luxurious interior and impeccable driving manners, the British saloon deservedly scooped compact executive honours at our 2015 New Car Awards.
In the process, it knocked the 3 Series off the top spot it had made its own since the sixth-generation car debuted in 2012.
However, BMW hasn’t taken this defeat lying down, and has pulled the covers off a facelifted version of its evergreen saloon, which celebrates its 40th birthday this year.
By tweaking the car’s looks, revising its engine line-up, upgrading its suspension and adding more kit, BMW believes it has given the 3 Series all it needs to regain its place at the top of the class pecking order.
So, which of our desirable executives has what it takes to succeed? In an exclusive test on UK roads, we name the winner in one of our hardest-hitting tests of the year.
Car group tests
Click the links above for individual reviews, and scroll down to see which fleet-favourite comes out on top...
Benefit in kind
Low running costs are essential for fleet-targeted models like our duo. The Jag is the cheaper choice for business users – it’s more expensive to buy, but claims lower CO2 emissions. Drivers looking to save can go for a 161bhp 2.0 XE, at £29,775, which emits 99g/km. The 320d EfficientDynamics Plus has the same CO2, yet costs £30,485.
The Jag may be slightly bigger on the outside, but its cabin is a touch more cramped, while the boot is 25 litres smaller and awkwardly shaped. Not only is the 3 Series’ boot bigger, buyers wanting even more space can opt for the Touring estate that features a 495-litre capacity.
At the track, the BMW had a small advantage over the Jaguar, due to its superior power and lower kerbweight. But there’s little to separate the two in the real world. Both feel a great deal faster than their humble diesel underpinnings would suggest.
1st place: Jaguar XE
This is the closest road test verdict of 2015, but the XE takes the victory by the very narrowest of margins. It’s not quite as good to drive as the refreshed BMW and it’s not quite as roomy, but the characterful Jaguar’s sleek looks, luxurious interior, top-notch refinement, long equipment list and lower running costs are hard to ignore.
2nd place: BMW 3 Series
If you’re a keen driver, then the 3 Series is still the pick of the compact executive class. All the improvements to the chassis and engines have made it faster and sharper to drive, plus they’ve boosted refinement, too. Yet it can’t match the Jaguar’s low running costs and standard kit list, plus it lacks its rival’s valuable safety aids.
Is it worth waiting for the new Audi A4?
Due: October Price: from £28,000 (est)Engine: 2.0 4cyl diesel, 148bhp
Underpinned by Audi’s lightweight MLB Evo platform, the handsome new A4 is fast, great fun to drive and frugal. It’s also beautifully finished and spacious inside. The Jaguar XE and BMW 3 Series need to watch their backs.
|Jaguar XE 2.0 (180) R Sport Auto||BMW 320d M Sport Auto|
|On-the-road price/total as tested||£34,775/£37,750||£33,635/£40,120|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)||£17,144/49.3%||£15,203/45.2%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£1,319/£2,638||£1,410/£2,821|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£1,356/£2,260||£1,135/£1,892|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||27/£526/B/£20||32/£579/C/£30|
|Servicing costs||£475 (5yrs/50k)||£475 (5yrs/50k)|
|Engine||4cyl in-line/1,999cc||4cyl in-line/1,995cc|
|Peak power||178/4,000 bhp/rpm||187/4,000 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque||430/1,750 Nm/rpm||400/1,750 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||8-spd auto/rwd||8-spd auto/rwd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||56 litres/£150||57 litres/run-flats|
|Boot capacity||455 litres||480 litres|
|Turning circle||12.0 metres||11.3 metres|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs||3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||21,000 miles (2yrs)/97||Variable/153|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||2nd/3rd||14th/23rd|
|Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars||N/A||95/84/78/86/5*|
|0-60/30-70mph||8.2/8.0 seconds||7.1/6.8 seconds|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||2.9/3.3seconds||2.7/3.2 seconds|
|50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th||4.5/5.5/7.1/11.3 secs||4.1/5.5/6.9/12.5 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||140mph/1,700rpm||146mph/1,700rpm|
|Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph||76/47/59/68dB||67/47/58/68dB|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||44.7/9.8/551 miles||53.4/11.8/670 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||169/111g/km/20%||142/116g/km/21%|
|Auto box/stability/adaptive cruise||Yes/yes/£1,500||Yes/yes/£620|
|Climate control/leather/heated seats||Yes/yes/yes||Yes/yes/£325|
|Met paint/xenons/sunroof||£620/yes/£1,000||£645/£710 (LED)/£895|