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.
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.
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)