Audi A4 takes on the Volvo S60 and Jaguar XE

Audi A4 takes on the Volvo S60 and Jaguar XE

Buyers seeking a compact executive sedan have never been more spoilt for choice. With at least eight different available models, trying to figure out the best choice could not be more difficult.

But we having a go at it anyway by pitting the three newest entries to the market against one another. Enter the updated Audi A4 Advance, the facelifted Jaguar XE P250, and the new-ish Volvo S60 T5.

LOOK AND FEEL

The Jaguar XE has a muscular design that exudes a sense of motion.

On the other hand, if you imagine what a “typical” compact executive sedan looks like, the image that comes to mind will be close to an Audi A4.

The A4 has relatively modest and more traditional design that will appeal to those who do not want to rock the boat.

However, it is hard to deny that the S60 is the most handsome, interesting, and progressive-looking of the trio. It looks sturdy and muscular, with its squarish shape accentuating the car’s overall size and girth.

LUXURY WITHIN

The three cars’ interiors all exude a premium and high-quality feel, with all of them having digital instrument panels and infotainment systems with touchscreen interfaces.

Jag’s ClearSight rear view mirror is useful when you have three adults in the rear.

That said, the XE is distinct for having a much more substantial and heavier-feeling cabin. It is more cocoon-like and has a more complex-looking centre console as well.

There are more gizmos here, too. These include the ClearSight rear view mirror and wireless phone charging. The Jaguar XE is also the sole contender with a powered boot lid.

The S60 impresses with an overall sensation of lightness and airiness, helped significantly by the sunroof. With its clean, sleek, and vertically-aligned Scandinavian interior design, it is a pleasant and comfortable place to be in.

S60’s interior is roomy and has a neat aesthetic.

The S60 is also the most spacious, with more legroom in the rear compared to the other two. It also has the plushest, most comfortable seats. Notably, the S60 is the only contender with a more “traditional” gearshift lever, with distinct positions for Park, Reverse, Drive and so on.

Meanwhile, the Audi A4 is a familiar space. It has the most intuitive infotainment interface, the simplest air-con controls, and a clinically well-rounded interior. Its 460-litre boot is also the largest of the three.

 

That said, the Audi’s touchscreen could the most difficult to operate on the go. Because it is just beyond arm’s reach, you lean forward slightly to press the screen especially for those who have short arms.

Audi A4’s cabin is the most well-built, and the infotainment system is the most intuitive, too.

 

THE COOL PULL

In terms of driving performance, these are all cars that deliver a measured balance of comfort and sporty dynamism. All three are powered by turbocharged 2-litre engines with varying outputs.

The Jaguar XE, with 184Kw and 365Nm of torque, accelerates hardest once you overcome the turbo lag. The engine note isn’t great when pushed hard, though, and it also has the busiest ride of the three.

That said, the Jag’s rear-wheel-drive setup does mean that it has the sharpest and most responsive front end – though not by much.

Jaguar XE is the only rear-wheel-drive contender in this test.

The Audi A4 packs 140Kw and 320Nm of torque, and the engine uses mild hybrid technology to deliver improved fuel economy (about 2km/L better than the other two).

Although it is the least powerful, it does not feel notably slower at light loads. The A4 is also light on its feet and is the easiest to manoeuvre, as it feels like the car with the smallest footprint. Overall, the drive is seamless, comfortable, and thoroughly effortless.

The Volvo S60 feels longer and bigger than its rivals here. Its all-wheel-drive system also makes it heavier and causes it to be thirstier as well.

Audi A4 panning shot

The Audi A4 feels the lightest on its feet and is the easiest to manoeuvre.

However, its powerplant, which churns out 187Kw and 350Nm, is buttery smooth. And more importantly, the overall refinement and comfort is very impressive.

It’s close, but we reckon the A4 and S60 set themselves slightly apart from the XE in terms of the driving experience.

TOUGH CHOICES

So, which is the best compact executive sedan in this company? There is no simple answer here, because all three cars deliver different experiences that will appeal to different drivers.

Overall, the XE has the greatest sense of heft and substance. It has a slightly more old-fashioned take on luxury (cocooning cabin, slight equipment overload), so we reckon it will appeal to a slightly older buyer.

The A4 is the middle of the road option. It is a little on the plain side as far as design and equipment goes, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

 

The Audi feels the most competent and has the highest build quality. It also offers long-term assurance that its rivals cannot immediately deliver. In many ways, the A4 is the safe, dependable choice.

The S60 is the younger, more avant-garde option. It has a bold and eye-catching exterior paired with a decidedly sleek and minimalist cabin. And the drive is quite impressive, although I wish it did not have all-wheel-drive.

We are young at heart and, slightly more adventurous reviewers so the S60 will naturally appeal to us. So, for our money, we would choose the Volvo S60 over the Audi A4 and Jaguar XE.

 

Jaguar XE, Volvo S60 and Audi A4 Specifications

 

Audi A4 Advance 2.0 (A)

ENGINE     1984cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged

MAX POWER     140kW at 4200-6000rpm

MAX TORQUE     320Nm at 1450-4200rpm

POWER TO WEIGHT     129.2hp per ton

GEARBOX     7-speed dual-clutch with manual select

0-100KM/H     7.3 seconds

TOP SPEED     241km/h

CONSUMPTION     15.9km/litre (combined)

 

Volvo S60 T5 R-Design 2.0 (A)

ENGINE     1969cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged

MAX POWER     187kW at 5500rpm

MAX TORQUE     350Nm at 1500-4800rpm

GEARBOX     8-speed automatic with manual select

POWER TO WEIGHT     144.5hp per ton

0-100KM/H     6.4 seconds

TOP SPEED     240km/h

CONSUMPTION     13.7km/L (combined)

 

Jaguar XE P250 R-Dynamic SE 2.0 (A)

ENGINE     1997cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged

MAX POWER     184Kw at 5500rpm

MAX TORQUE     365Nm at 1300-4500rpm

POWER TO WEIGHT     153.3hp per ton

GEARBOX     8-speed automatic with manual select

0-100KM/H     6.5 seconds

TOP SPEED     250km/h

CONSUMPTION     13.9km/litre (combined)

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