The automobile enterprise is cyclical by its very nature, and these intervals of renewal imply up to date or all-new fashions have a tendency to return directly. In 2019 it’s no totally different.
The most recent is the revised Audi A4. This can be a facelift somewhat than an all-new mannequin, however the vary affords recent mild-hybrid engine tech, tweaked styling and upgraded infotainment. These are three factors that any junior govt saloon has to ship, alongside journey consolation, refinement, dealing with capability, easy efficiency and loads of practicality, blended with a superb stage of apparatus.
Like Audi, Jaguar has revised its mannequin. Each vehicles arrived across the similar level, so the half-update within the mannequin cycle means the XE has been redesigned, too, gaining new inside tech and a slicker cabin.
In the beginning of the 12 months BMW’s new Three Collection hit the UK market and went straight to the highest of this class, beating the earlier XE within the course of. However with renewed vitality from each its rivals, our 2019 compact exec saloon automobile champ gained’t have every part its personal method.
|Mannequin:||Audi A4 40 TDI quattro S line|
|Engine:||2.Zero-litre 4cyl diesel, 187bhp|
|Check financial system:||55.5mpg/12.2mpl|
|Annual highway tax:||£465|
Given the tempo of growth on this class, the Audi A4 was in want of an replace, so has the facelift helped its probabilities? We discover out.
Design & engineering
At £41,120, the Audi is the costliest mannequin of this trio; it’s £1,295 dearer than the BMW and £1,645 dearer than the Jaguar. Nevertheless, try the finance offers (proper) to see if it could achieve again some floor.
The A4’s exterior updates primarily give attention to design. All fashions now have LED lights, which is a bonus, whereas these have additionally been refreshed, together with the entrance bumper and grille. There are extra creases and contours down the facet of the automobile, whereas the rear has been tweaked with new tail-lights too.
We’ll go away it as much as you to resolve when you like the brand new look. We’re extra within the engineering that’s beneath the MLB Evo chassis’s new clothes. The chassis itself is similar, with multi-link suspension at each ends. This 40 TDI produces the identical 187bhp and 400Nm of torque as earlier than, however not like with different motors within the line-up, there’s no 12-volt mild-hybrid tech or electrical compressor right here.
The seven-speed S tronic transmission nonetheless sends energy to all 4 wheels as a part of the quattro system, one thing that Audi made well-known within the world of rallying. Nevertheless, there’s been some vital change inside, with a brand new infotainment system. The earlier MMI wheel has been changed with a touchscreen, which is mounted in the identical location because the previous show, however with sharper graphics.
Audi has up to date the digital dashboard, too, and it’s normal on S line, together with navigation, good telephone tech, parking sensors and a reversing digital camera, local weather and cruise management, heated seats and a powered tailgate. Full leather-based is a £995 possibility. Cabin high quality is superb, as we’ve come to anticipate from the model, however we’d have appreciated a extra intensive redesign of the inside.
The 40 TDI unit is powerful. Because of the dual-clutch field’s launch management and swift upshifts, the 6.Eight-second Zero-60mph time is spectacular and was in contact with the BMW – a superb outcome on condition that the Audi weighs 45kg greater than its fellow German competitor.
Our check figures present its in-gear pull was respectable, too. With simply seven ratios in its field the Audi doesn’t have as a lot alternative over which gear to select. Whereas its 50-70mph time in high gear (seventh) was glacially gradual at 31.1 seconds, as a result of turbo being off increase, as soon as the TDI unit is in its stride, its efficiency is nice. However the gearbox isn’t as clean when pulling away from a standstill as its rivals’ standard autos.
The journey isn’t as clean, both. At greater pace, you discover the usual 19-inch wheels as a result of the A4 fidgets and feels agency, and never as forgiving because the Jaguar particularly. It has an edge to the way in which it strikes over bumps on A-roads and motorways that the XE doesn’t.
The BMW divides its two opponents for consolation, getting nearer to the Jag. Conversely, although, the Audi’s low-speed journey round city feels forgiving, easily traversing bumps, grids and potholes. It simply struggles to take care of the additional vitality at greater speeds.This agency edge does imply the Audi has good physique management.
Nevertheless, the steering is lighter, and whereas it’s direct and lets you simply command the pretty excessive stage of grip obtainable, you get merely nothing in the way in which of suggestions by way of it. Arguably, these vehicles needn’t focus extremely on this space, however then the A4’s less-refined journey does imply there’s not a trade-off in different areas.
At 460 litres, the Audi saloon’s boot is fairly sensible, though it’s shy of the BMW’s by 20 litres. Nevertheless, in S line trim you get a powered tailgate as normal, which does increase practicality if you’ve bought your arms full.
Regardless of having a shorter wheelbase than the XE, the A4 is far roomier in each the entrance and rear cabin. The again seats supply noticeably extra legroom and the roof doesn’t really feel as imposing, whereas within the entrance the motive force and passenger aren’t as cramped. This makes it really feel much less sporty, however with good storage – together with an additional lidded bin the place the MMI wheel used to take a seat – it’s a sensible place.
It all the time appears that Auto Specific readers really feel premium manufacturers don’t supply the service or possession expertise they anticipate, since you voted Audi the 16th finest model out of 30 in our Driver Energy 2019 survey. BMW trailed in 25th place, whereas Jaguar got here ninth.
The A4’s prospects enhance due to its security tools, although. It inherits its predecessor’s full five-star Euro NCAP ranking as a result of there aren’t any structural modifications, whereas a package improve brings autonomous emergency braking with collision warning and pedestrian detection, plus six airbags.
Blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep help are a part of the £1,250 Driver Help Pack – Tour, which additionally provides semi-autonomous adaptive cruise.
The Audi is the costliest automobile and emits essentially the most CO2, at 139g/km, so it’ll be the priciest automobile to run for enterprise customers, at £5,675 for higher-rate earners. This compares with £5,445 for the 138g/km Jaguar, which can also be within the 35 per cent Profit-in-Sort (BiK) tax bracket.
The BMW emits fairly a bit much less CO2 than its rivals, at 121g/km. This places it within the 32 per cent BiK class, which implies firm automobile drivers who pay top-rate tax will solely should contribute £5,Zero64 per 12 months.
“The Audi’s worth has one other influence. It’s the one automobile that breaks the £40,000 barrier, so it’ll price £465 to tax from years two to 6; its rivals solely price £145 a 12 months in VED, so it’s price bearing this in thoughts, too.”
|Mannequin:||Jaguar XE D180 AWD R-Dynamic SE|
|Engine:||2.Zero-litre 4cyl diesel, 178bhp|
|Check financial system:||48.5mpg/10.7mpl|
|Annual highway tax:||£145|
The XE is a former winner of our Greatest Compact Government Saloon award, however has dropped down the rankings since newer rivals have arrived. As with the A4, a facelift ought to make the British automobile extra aggressive, so we’re testing the £39,475 XE D180 AWD R-Dynamic SE to match the Audi.
Design & engineering
Jaguar’s method to the updates to the XE is much like Audi’s with the brand new A4 in that the British model has retained the areas the place its automobile was already good, and boosted those the place it was missing.
Meaning the inside has had a radical replace, with extra tech injected for a contemporary really feel. That features a 12.Three-inch digital dashboard and Jag’s Contact Professional Duo infotainment system.
High quality has additionally taken a giant leap ahead; the cabin supplies really feel higher than earlier than and the caris additionally higher constructed. There are nonetheless some ergonomic flaws, however there are enhancements, too, such because the steering wheel, which is extra pleasing to carry.
The two.Zero-litre 178bhp turbodiesel Ingenium engine stays, driving the identical eight-speed auto gearbox – which is now operated by a lever somewhat than a rotary wheel – and four-wheel-drive system as earlier than.
Jaguar claims 75 per cent of the XE’s physique is comprised of aluminium and the chassis makes use of the identical light-weight steel extensively – however the mannequin continues to be the heaviest of the three vehicles, at 1,610kg.
That weight is managed by double wishbones on the entrance and a multi-link set-up on the rear. You possibly can go for Jag’s Adaptive Dynamics system for £800, which brings adaptive dampers for additional consolation, one other space of focus for Jaguar to enhance with this facelift.
R-Dynamic SE trim options satellite tv for pc navigation, LED lights with high-beam help, 18-inch alloys, keyless operation, leather-based seats, a rear digital camera and parking sensors, plus for the primary time, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. It’s nicely outfitted.
The XE was all the time sensible to drive and this up to date automobile is not any totally different. But the largest change is the additional consolation it serves up, as a result of within the default setting the Jaguar is the best-riding mannequin of those three.
It takes bumps with soothing fluidity, rounding off the perimeters of harsher imperfections in a method the three Collection can’t. It doesn’t have the BMW’s physique management, although, even within the sportier setting, and the XE tends to throw its weight round a bit extra, feeling much less tied down than its German rival. But it surely’s nonetheless a properly balanced set-up that makes lengthy motorway journeys – for which these vehicles will typically be used – enjoyable.
The steering is lighter than earlier than however nonetheless good, with much more precision due to what appears like a discount in friction within the steering system; principally, it’s simpler to show, barely lighter and feels extra exact. It hasn’t misplaced any of its engagement, even when there isn’t a lot suggestions, as a result of the chassis nonetheless feels candy, if not fairly on the BMW’s stage.
Nevertheless, the engine isn’t a match for both of its rivals’. Our efficiency figures present the Jaguar was fairly a bit slower, accelerating from Zero-60mph in Eight.four seconds, which was 1.6 and 1.Eight seconds slower than the A4 and 320d respectively. That is partly as a result of the gearbox is extra sluggish than each rivals’; it doesn’t interact as rapidly off the road or shift up fairly as swiftly. However then it’s clean, which helps maintain progress enjoyable.
It additionally took Eight.four seconds for the XE to go from 30-70mph by way of the gears, which was 1.6 seconds slower than the Audi and a pair of.2 seconds behind the BMW’s time.
The Jaguar is refined sufficient, however is not any smoother or quieter than the three Collection. Nonetheless, at the least the British saloon is quiet on the motorway.
The 410-litre boot is kind of a bit smaller than each its rivals’; it takes 50 litres lower than the Audi’s and trails the BMW’s by 70 litres. Regardless of the XE’s comparable footprint to the A4 and 320d, it’s additionally extra cramped within the rear of the cabin. It feels the smallest within the again in terms of each head and legroom, whereas the entrance of the inside can also be tighter.
It does really feel cossetting, however regardless of improved storage – such because the wi-fi charging tray on our check automobile – the XE nonetheless doesn’t really feel as versatile inside because the BMW particularly.
Jaguar’s ninth-place end within the makers’ chart of our Driver Energy 2019 survey meant it was one of the best performer of those three manufacturers, forward of Audi and BMW.
The protection package is even higher, although, as a result of the five-star rated XE will get autonomous braking, lane- maintain help, auto excessive beam, traffic-sign recognition and cross-traffic alert. You may also add blind-spot monitoring for £450, plus Jag’s intelligent ClearSight digital rear-view mirror for an additional £450.
The Jaguar’s gas financial system on check was 48.5mpg, which implies an annual gas invoice of £1,485. It trailed the outcomes of its opponents. The BMW managed 54.3mpg, which equates to an annual gas invoice of £1,326. Nevertheless, it’s price remembering that this determine is for a rear-drive mannequin; we nonetheless wouldn’t anticipate a lot, if any, distinction for an xDrive mannequin, although.
It was the A4 that was the effectivity champ on this check, nonetheless, as a result of it managed to edge out its rivals and returned 55.5mpg, which implies a gas invoice of £1,297 each year.
“R-Dynamic spec is accessible on all XEs. The trim stage determines the package, whereas R-Dynamic provides a sportier look, with an even bigger bodykit and wheels. The automobile’s lights and bumpers have been subtly restyled.”
BMW Three Collection
|Mannequin:||BMW 320d xDrive M Sport|
|Engine:||2.Zero-litre 4cyl diesel, 187bhp|
|Check financial system:||54.3mpg/11.9mpl|
|Annual highway tax:||£145|
The three Collection is our reigning compact exec champ, and in 320d xDrive M Sport type is a really robust rival for the 2 newcomers to face. It prices £39,825, however how aggressive is it in opposition to its up to date rivals?
Design & engineering
When this Three Collection hit the UK at first of the 12 months, one of many large advances was the automobile’s all-new chassis. That is based mostly on BMW’s CLAR structure, with packaging enhancements over its predecessor that have been instantly obvious after we examined it.
It’s nonetheless a case of evolution for the engineering onerous factors, although. The physique is barely greater and the automobile subsequently a bit roomier, whereas the engine developments give attention to a twin-turbo model of BMW’s 2.Zero-litre four-cylinder diesel unit.
There’s one small compressor for higher response, and an even bigger turbo for energy greater up the rev vary. The 320d produces 187bhp and 400Nm of torque, with an eight-speed computerized gearbox driving all 4 wheels in xDrive trim to match its rivals.
This four-wheel-drive system is clever, although, so it solely sends a superb chunk of energy to the entrance when it senses a lack of traction on the rear wheels. In any other case it’s a rear-biased set-up, as within the Jaguar, whereas the Audi is extra lead by its entrance.
One level that’s price mentioning is the three Collection’ normal suspension. An adaptive set-up prices £2,200 as a part of the M Sport Plus pack, however the 320d comes with what BMW calls ‘lift-dependent dampers’. When the automobile is at its lightest the damping forces are diminished in contrast with when the three Collection is stuffed with occupants and baggage. When it’s heavier, the damping is tautened up for extra management.
M Sport trim is equal to Audi’s S line and Jaguar’s R-Dynamic SE, so there’s a equally subtly enhanced sporty bodykit, whereas the record of normal tools matches up as nicely. Meaning you get BMW’s newest Stay Cockpit Skilled infotainment system, heated leather-based seats, parking sensors and a reversing digital camera, plus objects akin to a digital sprint and telephone connectivity.
The cabin high quality splits its rivals. It’s largely good, however there are just a few areas of nasty plastic.
The way in which the 320d drives is evolutionary, which is not any unhealthy factor. Its steering isn’t very communicative, however it’s direct and a beautiful weight, so with the extent of grip the chassis generates, you may have real enjoyable behind the wheel. The damper know-how provides nice physique management, maintaining the BMW composed by way of fast corners and course modifications.
There’s steadiness, too, even in xDrive type. Our figures are for the rear-drive mannequin, however even then efficiency is on par with its four-wheel-drive rivals. Including xDrive ought to assist, however don’t anticipate a lot enchancment over our 6.6-second Zero-60mph time. Traction is already nice, and whereas xDrive would possibly enhance this barely, the additional weight will offset it. It gained’t have an effect on in-gear figures, the place the 320d was simply a match for the A4 and XE.
Engine refinement is nice, and the diesel solely will get rattlier at greater revs. Even then, it’s quieter than the A4 and XE’s. It’s helped by the gearbox, which is faster and smoother to shift than the Jag’s comparable eight-speed unit, whereas modifications are much less pronounced than with the Audi’s dual-clutch transmission as nicely.
Whereas the BMW is snug, the journey isn’t completely composed. The damper tech works, however the Three Collection feels just a bit uneven on unhealthy roads. It’s higher if it’s carrying a bit extra weight, although, when it settles down and smooths out. In distinction, the Audi by no means feels as composed, and whereas the Jag rides sweetly, the steadiness is skewed a bit extra in direction of dealing with.
The BMW’s cabin was enlarged for this model, and there’s noticeably extra room inside. It feels just a bit extra spacious than the A4 and fairly a bit roomier than the XE. Each these vehicles are facelifts, so that they’re caught with the onerous factors of the structure, which limits house.
There’s much less between them on boot capability, although. The BMW affords 480 litres, which is greater than sufficient room and barely greater than the 460-litre Audi, whereas the Jag is missing, at 410 litres.
The straightforward and intuitive infotainment boosts usability, whereas storage is nice, too. Cup-holders in entrance of the gearlever, a tray with a wi-fi charging plate in entrance of that, and a giant central bin between the entrance seats imply there’s loads of cupboard space.
BMW carried out the worst of this trio in our Driver Energy 2019 ballot, ending 25th within the makers’ chart, which isn’t nice for a premium model that prides itself on this picture.
Security is best, although, as a result of the 320d options autonomous braking with collision warning, lane- departure alert, LED lights, parking sensors and a reversing digital camera as normal in M Sport trim.
Our automobile additionally included the £1,250 Driving Assistant Skilled bundle, which provides adaptive cruise, cross-traffic warning, lane-keep help with facet collision prevention and a semi-autonomous drive operate that may maintain you in your lane.
The BMW’s enchantment is backed up by its stronger residual values. Our specialists predict that the 320d xDrive M Sport will maintain on to 45.four per cent/£18,077 of its record worth, so depreciation stands at £21,748.
This compares with estimated residual values of 41.6 per cent/£16,402 and 38.6 per cent/£16,794 for the XE and A4. These will, subsequently, depreciate by £23,073 and £26,771 respectively.
“The 320d options energetic aero know-how. Slats within the giant grille shut to scale back drag and enhance the BMW’s effectivity. The saloon’s slippery form means wind noise is saved low, too.”
First place: BMW Three Collection
One more win goes to the three Collection. It doesn’t journey with fairly as a lot forgiveness because the XE, however in all different respects it’s higher dynamically; it handles and steers nicely, has extra grip and the engine is punchier, whereas the gearbox is one of the best. It’s additionally essentially the most sensible, the infotainment is strongest, and there’s hardly something between this trio for operating prices. Just a few minor high quality points apart, the BMW is a superb automobile.
Second place: Jaguar XE
Updates right here have enhanced consolation and high quality, however not compromised how nicely the XE drives. The infotainment on supply is improved, too, and the Jag now feels extra mature and hi-tech. The engine is a weak level in contrast with its rivals’ items, however the XE handles nicely, has simply sufficient efficiency and appears like a superb step up in high quality. The infotainment nonetheless holds it again in contrast with the BMW, although.
Third place: Audi A4
Whereas the brand new A4 is an enchancment and the standard is great, it doesn’t fairly attain the heights set by the BMW and the Jaguar. That’s primarily as a result of it’s not as snug, and whereas the infotainment is an enchancment in some methods (however a backward step in others), it’s nonetheless not so good as the BMW’s. That is additionally a pricier automobile, but it’ll lose additional cash. The brand new A4 is an efficient automobile, then, however not an excellent one.
Additionally take into account…
Mannequin: Mercedes C 220 d 4MATIC AMG Line
Engine: 2.Zero-litre 4cyl, 191bhp
The C-Class replace final 12 months added extra tech to go together with the already good cabin. The two.Zero-litre diesel is noisy, however efficiency is nice – and so is practicality, due to the roomy cabin and 455-litre boot. There are some nice lease offers, too.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Mannequin: Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.2 JTDM-2 Speciale
Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 187bhp
The slim Giulia vary means simply Speciale trim is accessible with Alfa’s extra highly effective diesel unit that matches these vehicles. There’s no four-wheel-drive possibility, therefore the cheaper worth, however you don’t want it. The enjoyment right here is the Giulia’s dealing with.
|BMW 320d xDrive M Sport Sport-Auto||Jaguar XE D180 AWD R-Dynamic SE||Audi A4 40 TDI quattro S line|
|On the highway worth/complete as examined||£39,825/£39,825||£39,475/£47,560||£41,120/£43,565|
|Residual worth (after 3yrs/36,000)||£18,077/45.four%||£16,402/41.6%||£16,794/38.6%|
|Annual tax legal responsibility std/greater fee||£2,532/£5,Zero64||£2,722/£5,445||£2,837/£5,675|
|Annual gas price (12okay/20okay miles)||£1,326/£2,210||£1,485/£2,475||£1,297/£2,162|
|Insurance coverage group/quote/highway tax price||31/£610/£145||28/£557/£145||30/£589/£465|
|Servicing prices||£25pm (Three years)||TBC||£180/£345/£180|
|Engine||4cyl in-line/1,995cc||4cyl in-line/1,999cc||4cyl in-line/1,968cc|
|Peak energy/revs||187/four,000 bhp/rpm||178/four,000 bhp/rpm||187/Three,800 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque/revs||400/1,750 Nm/rpm||430/1,730 Nm/rpm||400/1,750 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||Eight-speed auto/four wheel drive||Eight-speed auto/four wheel drive||7-speed auto/four wheel drive|
|Gasoline tank capability/spare wheel||59 litres/run-flats||56 litres/restore package||58 litres/restore package|
|Boot capability (seats up/down)||480 litres||410 litres||460 litres|
|Turning circle||12.Zero metres||11.2 metres||11.6 metres|
|Primary guarantee (miles)/restoration||3yrs (60,000)/3yrs||3yrs (limitless)/3yrs||3yrs (60,000)/3yrs|
|Driver Energy producer/vendor pos.||25th/25th||ninth/12th||16th/20th|
|NCAP: Grownup/little one/ped./help/stars||N/A||92/82/81/82/5 (2015)||89/87/75/75/5 (2015)|
|Zero-60/30-70mph||6.6/6.2 secs||Eight.four/Eight.four secs||6.Eight/6.Eight secs|
|30-50mph in third/4th||2.7/Three.Zero secs||Three.1/Three.6 secs||2.7/Three.6 secs|
|50-70mph in fifth/sixth/seventh/eighth||four.Three/5.9/7.four/13.four secs||5.1/6.5/Eight.four/15.2 secs||5.four/10.1/31.1 secs/N/A|
|High pace/rpm at 70mph||145mph/1,600rpm||132mph/1,600rpm||146mph/1,500rpm|
|Auto Specific econ. (mpg/mpl)/vary||54.Three/11.9/705 miles||48.5/10.7/597 miles||55.5/12.2/708 miles|
|WLTP mixed mpg||48.7-51.4mpg||41.6-46.4mpg||45.6mpg|
|WLTP mixed mpl||10.7-11.3mpl||9.2-10.2mpl||10.Zero mpl|
|Precise/claimed CO2/tax bracket||139/121g/km/32%||156/138g/km/35%||136/139g/km/35%|
|Auto field/lane-keep/blind spot/AEB||Sure/sure/£1,250*/sure||Sure/sure/£450/sure||Y/£1,250*/£1,250*/y|
|Clim./cruise ctrl/leather-based/heated seats||Sure/sure/sure/sure||Sure/sure/sure/£170||Sure/sure/£995/sure|
|Met paint/LEDs/keyless/pwr tailgate||£670/y/£990*/£990*||£600/sure/sure/£400||£675/y/£1,395*/y|
|Nav/digi sprint/DAB/related apps||Sure/sure/sure/sure||Sure/sure/sure/sure||Sure/sure/sure/sure|
|Wi-fi cost/CarPlay/Android Auto||£350/sure/no||£150/sure/sure||No/sure/sure|