It was only a matter of time before someone got all three of these cars together for a proper road test comparison. We can sit and measure specs on paper all day long, but that has little bearing on what cars are actually like to drive. Well, Auto Express was fortunate enough to get all three of these performance sedans together for a head-to-head-to-head comparison test and the results are about as we expected.
When automotive journalists test cars, performance, handling and braking are usually at the top of the priority list. That’s just the way it goes, as we like sportier feeling cars. Especially when the cars are in the ‘sports sedan’ category, thus leading us to believe that sportiness is paramount. These three sedans are all of that variety. The BMW and Audi have been battling this out for decades now, between the 3 Series an A4, respectively, with Jaguar just recently entering the fight (we’re intentionally trying to forget about the dreadful X-Type from many moons ago).
The spec of these sedans for this test are all diesel models, which all seem to be 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinders, and are all equipped with automatics. This isn’t a popular choice of setup here in the US, but in the UK, where Auto Express is based, it’s the most popular setup as diesels lower the cost of ownership dramatically in Europe. So this is an important test.
Auto Express is pretty quick to name the victors, so we’ll cut to the chase as well. The Jaguar XE takes the crown in this one. It wasn’t very unexpected to hear this, as the new Jag XE is a sensational all-around car that is more dynamic that the other two while being just as comfortable and only suffering a minor practicality penalty. The Jag is also the best looking, which helps a great deal. But it’s combination of superb driving dynamics, quality performance and comfortable ride and interior, combined with the fact that it’s the cheapest car in the test as well as the cheapest to run, it takes first place.
Second place comes the BMW 3 Series. Again, not a shocker. It’s actually more shocking that the 3 Series wasn’t first than that it beat the newcomer A4. The BMW 3 Series has always been at the top of this segment. It practically invented the segment in the late ’70s, so it’s no surprise that it takes a higher ranking than the A4. It has excellent driving dynamics, if a touch less than the Jag, and an extremely well appointed interior. It also has the most interior room and largest trunk, making it the most practical. It’s also quite frugal, though not as much so as the Jag. However, it is quite expensive and doesn’t come with as much standard features as either of the other two. So while it has driving dynamics, frugality and practicality bordering on top trumps, it’s just too expensive to beat the Jag.
The Audi A4 comes in third place here, but this is as close to an emotional victory for Audi as they come. While the A4 comes in third, it was a close one. The A4 is all-new for this year and Audi is trying some new things out, so it’s only logical that it would have some kinks. The Audi actually gains some praise for its as-standard equipment, like LED headlamps, and by far the best interior in the test. Its TDI engine is also extremely smooth and has more than enough power. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is also very goo, with smooth, snappy shifts. Though Auto Express found trouble with the gearing, which was deemed “unsuited to UK roads.” The Audi put up a good fight, but in the end, its lack of interesting styling, slightly worse driving dynamics than the other two and too stiff of suspension put it in last place. It’s still a fantastic car and one that anyone would be happy to own, but in this company it’s just a tick behind the two best.Auto Express]