BMW 5 Series Touring vs Jaguar XF Sportbrake
Jaguar’s sporty new wagon takes on the luxurious class leader
Both of these new estates are sporty, practical, tted with a diesel engine and four-wheel drive, and cost around £41k. But which is better? TAKE A STROLL through the Bavarian countryside in the depths of January and you’ll be trudging over crisp, freshly fallen snow, clutching at your lederhosen and longing for a warming Bratwurst.
Transport in such conditions doesn’t come much better than a four-wheel-drive version of another icon of Bavaria, the BMW 5 Series Touring. It’s currently the best premium- badged estate car you can buy, thanks to its cosseting ride, cavernous boot and tidy handling.
But from the middle of an altogether greyer Midlands midwinter comes a new rival: the Jaguar XF Sportbrake. The British brand’s new estate appears to have every chance to take the 5 Series’ crown, with impressive practicality, a powerful engine and, if the XF saloon is anything to go by, entertaining handling.
The 25d version of the XF we’re testing here has four-wheel drive as standard, making it a great match for the 5 Series xdrive, especially since both cars also have 2.0-litre diesel engines and automatic gearboxes as standard.
DRIVING Performance, ride, handling, re nement
Start the cars and you’ll immediately notice a difference. While the 5 Series’ diesel engine gently stirs into life and thrums away in the background, the XF’S coughs and splutters in a rather more agricultural manner. In fact, refinement is a real strong point for the 5 Series across the board because, as well as substantially less engine noise, there’s less wind and road noise at faster speeds.
But it’s not all about how these cars isolate you from the outside world. Both accelerate off the line in similarly grippy fashion, and it’s only in flat-out acceleration that the XF’S extra 50bhp becomes noticeable as it starts to pull away. The 5 Series isn’t remotely sluggish, but overtaking is quicker and easier in the XF.
Both cars actually employ the same basic eight-speed automatic gearbox, but the 5 Series’ is better integrated. Its shifts are always smooth and slick, whereas the XF’S dithers more when pulling out of junctions or onto roundabouts and generally seems less certain about which gear it ought to be in.
The XF has the edge when it comes to handling, though. Its steering is noticeably sharper and the car generally feels a bit more agile than the 5 Series, staying more upright through corners. But the 5 Series is still incredibly grippy in the bends, and it feels more composed and planted on the motorway. Both cars’ fourwheel drive systems ensure there’s plenty of traction on snaking roads, even in bad weather.
Both estates ride well by class standards, but the 5 Series is more
cosseting, especially when fitted with Variable Damper Control (£985). It takes a pretty big pothole to unsettle it. The XF, meanwhile, copes with these sort of harsh road imperfections slightly better, but the flipside is a firmer, less relaxing ride the rest of the time.
BEHIND THE WHEEL Driving position, visibility, build quality
You’ll be able to get comfortable fairly easily in the driver’s seat of either car, thanks to a wide range of adjustment for both the steering wheels and seats. Electric seat height adjustment is standard on both, but fully electric seats
cost extra, as does adjustable lumbar support. The latter is an option well worth considering for long-distance comfort.
Visibility is excellent, helped in the dark by some impressive standard headlights. The XF has xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights, while the 5 Series has sharper full LED units. Upgrading the XF to LED headlights (that also turn with the steering wheel and provide automatic high-beam assist) costs £1275. Adding turning headlights and high-beam assist to the 5 Series costs £1295.
Unfortunately, neither car gets a reversing camera as standard, but self-parking systems with 360deg cameras are available for £1095 in the 5 Series and £1690 in the XF.
The 5 Series is in a different league to the XF in terms of interior quality. The finish on its dashboard is plusher and more upmarket, and the way the dials and buttons operate makes the 5 Series feel like a Swiss timepiece to the XF’S 1980s Casio watch.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY Front space, rear space, seating exibility, boot
There’s enough room up front for two tall adults in both cars, even if you can’t resist adding an optional panoramic sunroof. However, a basketball player would appreciate the extra head and leg room in the front of the 5 Series.
The 5 Series has more rear head room, too, and its broader interior makes it the better bet when you need to carry three adults in the back. Mind you, a couple of six-footers will still be perfectly comfortable in the back of the XF and will actually have a little more space for their knees.
We managed to fit seven carryon suitcases in the XF’S boot, but the 5 Series went one better with eight, thanks to its wider and longer load bay. Neither boot has an internal lip, so it’s equally easy to slide items in and out, although the 5 Series’ has a wider opening.
Dropping the rear seats is simple in both cars, achieved by pressing a button in the boot. The XF has a slightly longer load bay with the rear seats down and its seats lie flatter than the 5 Series’.
Both cars come with a powered tailgate as standard and, as a bonus, the 5 Series enables you to open just the tailgate window.
BUYING AND OWNING Costs, equipment, reliability, safety and security
However you look at it, the 5 Series comes out cheaper. Its lower CO2 emissions translate to smaller tax payments for company car drivers, and it’s the more affordable option for anyone planning to lease.
For cash buyers, there’s only £277 between the price of these rivals after dealer discounts. However, the XF will lose its value more quickly, while the 5 Series is easier on fuel, too – all of which means it’s much cheaper to own in the long run.
Both cars come with comparable standard equipment, but if you’re a high-mileage motorway driver you might want to add some active safety systems. In the 5 Series, the Driving Assistant Plus package brings adaptive cruise control and steering and lane control assist. It’s a pricey £2250, but it really does improve motorway journeys. Semi-autonomous steering isn’t available on the XF, but you can get adaptive cruise control for £1460.
Our latest reliability survey suggests you’re more likely to be visiting the garage with the XF than the 5 Series; BMW as a brand scored average marks, whereas Jaguar was below par. Meanwhile, Thatcham rates both cars equally highly for their resistance to being stolen or broken into.
These cars are very safe, scoring full five-star safety ratings from Euro NCAP with almost identical results in all categories bar safety assist. Here, the XF has an edge, because while both get automatic emergency braking as standard, it adds lane departure warning.
5 Series is the better cruiser, proving com er and quieter
More powerful XF sees off the 5 Series in a straight sprint