Mercedes E-Class vs Jaguar XF vs Audi A6
The hi-tech new Mercedes E-Class gets down to business as it takes on Jaguar and Audi rivals in its first test
Despite the ever increasing popularity of upmarket SUVs and crossovers, sales of premium executive saloons are still going strong.
So the arrival of an all-new Mercedes E-Class to the market is big news. While its predecessor was solidly built, it lacked that wow factor. However, with its hi-tech kit and styling cues from the brand’s S-Class limousine, this latest car promises to set a new class benchmark.
Under the sleek lines are totally overhauled engines, which, in combination with the slippery aerodynamics and nine-speed automatic gearbox, make the Mercedes one of the most efficient models in the class. At launch, there’s a choice of SE and sporty AMG Line trim levels, and it’s the latter we test here in £38,430 220d guise.
The Jaguar is our current class champ, thanks to its desirable blend of handsome styling, cosseting interior, composed driving dynamics and low running costs.
The A6 is getting on a bit, but it scooped Executive Car honours at our 2015 New Car Awards, and blends an unrivalled image with impeccable quality. So which of our captains of industry will come out on top?
Head to head
These cars are packed with hi-tech additions, but the E-Class leads the way for gadgets. A highlight is the £1,695 Driving Assistance Plus, which includes the clever Drive Pilot. This neat piece of kit combines with the adaptive cruise to allow virtually hands-free progress on the motorway. It will even brake and accelerate the car in traffic.
Our contenders ooze upmarket appeal, so it’s no surprise they’re closely matched on residuals. The Mercedes leads the way, retaining 45.7 per cent of its new value after three years according to our experts, while the A6 brings up the rear on 43.6 per cent. All three are fairly good.
The Audi emits the least CO2 here, at 110g/km. However, if you’re looking to lower your Benefit in Kind bills, then the Mercedes E 220d in SE guise is the best bet. It emits just 102g/km, dropping it into the 20 per cent tax bracket.
First place: Mercedes E-Class
Mercedes has hit the ground running with the E-Class. The newcomer is more stylish than its predecessor and features an interior that sets new standards for quality and design. Refinement is also top notch, while the S-Class-inspired technology makes it safer and easier to live with. It’s not quite as fun to drive as the XF, but it’s close enough in a class where comfort and composure count.
Second place: Jaguar XF
The margins are extremely tight, but the XF tastes defeat for the first time. Sleek looks, agile handling and a generous kit list make the Jag a desirable choice. It’s also a cost-effective company car and offers plenty of space. Yet it can’t match the Mercedes for refinement and cutting-edge kit, while the cabin just falls short in terms of class and quality.
Third place: Audi A6
Third place is no disgrace for the A6. Despite its advancing years, it still looks good, drives well and makes plenty of financial sense for business users. And while the cabin is starting to show its age, there’s no doubting the quality of the finish and materials. However, it lacks the latest tech of its rivals, while the S tronic gearbox isn’t well suited to UK roads.
Other options in this category
BMW 520d M Sport Auto
Price: £36,865Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 187bhp
The BMW is six years old, but it shows no signs of slowing down. Its balanced rear-wheel-drive chassis still sets the handling benchmark, plus the 520d is beautifully built. Its cabin is just a bit cramped and it’s not as efficient as the best.
Lexus GS 300h F Sport
Price: £40,995Engine: 2.5-litre 4cyl/electric, 220bhp
The impeccably finished Lexus goes its own way with an efficient petrol-electric powerplant. It can’t match its rivals here for driver engagement and the F Sport model is expensive, but the GS is loaded with kit and cheap to run for business users.
|Mercedes E 220d AMG Line auto||Jaguar XF R-Sport 2.0d 180 auto||Audi A6 2.0 TDI S line S tronic|
|On-the-road price/total as tested||£38,430/£49,795||£36,850/£47,725||£36,350/£36,350|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)||£17,551/45.7%||£16,325/44.3%||£15,849/43.6%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£1,689/£3,377||£1,619/£3,238||£1,597/£3,194|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£1,183/£1,972||£1,281/£2,134||£1,362/£2,270|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||31/£654/C/£30||27/£617/C/£30||33/£865/B/£20|
|Servicing costs||£37pm (3yrs)||£525 (5yrs/50k)||£1,029 (3yrs)/£18pm|
|Engine||4cyl in-line/1,950cc||4cyl in-line/1,999cc||4cyl in-line/1,968cc|
|Peak power||191/3,800 bhp/rpm||178/4,000 bhp/rpm||187/3,800 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque||400/1,600 Nm/rpm||430/1,750 Nm/rpm||400/1,750 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||9-spd auto/rwd||8-spd auto/rwd||7-spd auto/fwd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||66 litres/run-flats||66 litres/£185||73 litres/space-saver|
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)||540 litres/N/A||540/963 litres||530/995 litres|
|Turning circle/drag coefficient||11.6 metres/0.23Cd||11.6 metres/N/A||11.9 metres/N/A|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (unltd)/4yrs||3yrs (unltd)/3yrs||3yrs (60,000)/3yrs|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||15,500 miles (1yr)/136||21,000 miles (2yrs)/97||Variable/121|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||11th/21st (2015)||2nd/3rd (2015)||13th/25th (2015)|
|NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/points||N/A||92/84/80/83/5 (2015)||91/83/41/86/5 (2011)|
|0-60/30-70mph||7.3/6.7 secs||9.3/8.6 secs||8.5/7.3 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||3.0/4.0 secs||3.1/3.6 secs||2.8/3.9 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th||6.0/7.3/9.6 secs/N/A||5.1/6.4/8.2/15.0 secs||6.0/10.1/30.3s/N/A|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||149mph/1,300rpm||136mph/1,500rpm||144mph/1,400rpm|
|Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph||71/54/64/71dB||75/52/63/69dB||76/52/62/68dB|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||48.7/10.7/407 miles||45.0/9.9/653 miles||42.3/9.3/679 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||155/112g/km/22%||168/114g/km/22%||179/110g/km/22%|
|Auto box/stability/cruise control/AEB*||Yes/yes/yes/yes||Yes/yes/yes/yes||Yes/yes/yes/no|
|Climate control/leather/heated seats||Yes/£1,595/yes||Yes/yes/yes||Yes/yes/£320|
|Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go||£645/LED/yes||£690/yes/£510||£675/LED/yes|