You could say that the premium compact saloon segment is dominated by the German manufacturers, Audi and BMW are the firm favourites but can Jaguar elbow themselves into the competition?
Jaguar XE - from £26,990
A rival to BMW’s 3 Series came in the form of the XE from Jaguar, a long awaited addition to the manufacturer’s line up that definitely turned heads.
With a good-looking exterior the interior is just as delightful, it takes some styling cues from the F-Type with its low slung seating position, wraparound dash and instrument panel. Their InControl Touch features as standard on the XE, the easy to use 8-inch touchscreen letting you operate the navigation, media, phone settings and safety systems.
The XE comes with a good choice of engines, two diesel ones from their efficient Ingenium range, a 163PS or 180PS 2.0-litre turbocharged variant with CO2 emissions as low as 99g/km and a combined fuel economy of 75mpg, so running costs will be good.
Two turbocharged petrol versions are a 200PS or 240PS 2.0-litre which offer high levels of performance with good fuel economy, but the cherry on the cake is the supercharged 6-cylinder 340PS 3.0-litre which is available on the F-Type and has a 0-60mph time of just 4.9 seconds.
Jaguar have really impressed with their ride set-up, it’s quiet, supple and feels settled even on harsh road surfaces. Torque Vectoring comes on the XE, so expect the car to feel controlled on the tight, twisty stuff and with Adaptive Surface Response and All Surface Progress Control as driving aids you can be sure of a safe drive on any given surface, even at low speeds.
The Jaguar XE is actually quite spacious, three adults can sit comfortably in the rear and boot space is 455-litres, although if you’re looking for extra capacity split rear folding seats are an option.
The Jaguar XE is priced from £26,990 and comes with a three year warranty, but what model from BMW is it up against?
BMW 3 Series - from £25,160
BMW’s offering comes in the form of their best-selling model the 3 Series which has been around since 1975. Losing none of its sporty, coupe like design seen through each generation, the latest 3 series saloon is as asthetically pleasing on the inside as it is on the outside.
With high gloss black and brushed aluminium inserts, a well-laid out instrument panel and a premium looking 6.5-inch Control Display screen which features navigation as standard, the cabin is very driver focussed and BMW have designed an interior to be as comfortable as possible.
The BMW 3 series holds 480-litres in the boot but like the XE any increases like split-folding seats, or a through loading system are optional. It also comes with a nifty system that lets you open the boot lid by waving your foot under the bumper if you happen to have your hands full.
It features their Drive Performance Control system so you can set up the car depending on how you want to drive it with three modes available: Comfort, Sport and Eco Pro and if you’re looking for plenty of steering response, good handling and stability with a comfortable ride, then the 3 series ticks all the right boxes.
The 2.0-litre diesel available on the 3 series comes with 118PS upto 192PS, CO2 emissions as low as 109g/km with a combined 68.9mpg for the 117PS version. There is also a 3.0-litre variant available with either 262PS or 317PS and they’ll still have impressive fuel economy with high levels of performance.
For those wanting a petrol the 2.0-litre starts with 138PS rising to 255PS and the 3.0-litre produces 330PS and has a 0-62mpg time of just 5.2 seconds. Whatever amount of power you’re looking for the 3 series engine range caters for everyone.
The BMW starts from £25,160 with a three-year unlimited warranty, does Audi’s model have enough to beat its German rival?
Audi A4 - from £26,350
The Audi A4 is now into its fifth generation, is one of their most popular models and it was named the WhatCar? Car of the year for 2016 which is quite an accolade.
Their latest saloon had a completely refreshed cabin that now contains a lot of new technology including Audi’s stunning Virtual Cockpit - the 12.3 inch screen taking the place of the usual analogue dials and which was first seen in the TT, a 8.3 inch display screen in the centre console which is operated by their highly intuitive MMI Touch system and there is also the Audi phone box which lets you wirelessly charge your smartphone.
The dimensions on the A4 saloon have been increased, it’s longer and wider than its predecessor and rear passengers benefit from more legroom too. Boot space is 480-litres and can be increased to 965-litres using the split-folding rear seats.
There is a good range of engines for the A4 saloon: two petrol, a 150PS 1.4-litre and a 2.0-litre available as 190PS, or a quattro version with 252PS that will reach 62mph from a standing start in just 5.8 seconds.
Two diesel options, a new 2.0-litre with 150PS or 190PS are class-leading and the 150PS emits just 99g/km of CO2 so will cost nothing in road tax, and has a combined 74.3mph.
There is also a 272PS 3.0-litre with a huge 600Nm of torque which surprisingly also has low emissions at just 115g/km.
The Audi A4 saloon benefits from a newly developed suspension so ride has been improved and buyers also have the option of the Adaptive comfort suspension with damping control so rough road surfaces shouldn’t affect the drive too much.
The A4 also has the Audi Drive Select system, so like the BMW 3 series it can be adjusted for sporty or economical driving.
The entry level A4 saloon starts from £26,350 and it comes with a three year/60,000 miles warranty.
Which is the best?
All three models offer plenty of technology, efficient engines, stylish looks and good levels of standard equipment, but the BMW 3 series just has the edge over the A4 and the XE as it has an extensive engine range, sporty looks and it pips them both in price too.