Best Diesel Cars 2021

Diesel has received a lot of bad press in recent years, and while it's true that diesel engines – especially older ones – can be more polluting than petrols, a diesel-powered car still makes a great deal of sense for drivers who cover lots of miles.
Indeed, despite the negative headlines, our independent tests have shown that the latest diesel engines are, in some cases, cleaner than their petrol counterparts.
What's more, they're almost always more efficient. And, in larger cars, the strong low-down pulling power of a diesel engine usually makes it preferable to a higher revving petrol.

Here, we've rounded up our favourite diesel-powered cars.

BMW X3 xDrive20d

The X3 is a great choice if you're looking for a prestige SUV with five seats. Keen drivers will like its strong yet smooth 2.0-litre diesel engine and top-notch handling, while passengers can enjoy the plush and spacious interior. You also get BMW's iDrive infotainment system, which is the best around.

Would you believe it? Such is the trend of modern cars to grow and grow, that today’s BMW X3 is actually bigger than the original version of its big brother, the BMW X5.

But don’t worry, the comparisons between the current X3 and a car more than 20 years old stop there. This X3 is as bang up to date as the very best new large SUVs. It is available with all the latest gadgets to amuse, assist and inform, and there's a terrifically diverse range of power options for you to choose from. They include silky diesels, punchy turbocharged petrols, frugal plug-in hybrids, and there’s even a fully electric version called the iX3 (read our review of it here).

There’s also a hardcore, performance-focused version, called the X3 M Competition. Read more on that car by clicking on the link, because here we’re focusing on the standard X3, and there’s lots to get through.

Now into its third iteration, the BMW X3 is lighter, more efficient, and being a BMW, you’d expect it to drive well. But can this chunky SUV maintain BMW’s tradition of handling that’s sharp and poised enough to please even the most enthusiastic drivers? And how does it compare with its impressive rivals? 

There are many of those in this large SUV class: the plush and comfortable Audi Q5; the spacious and rugged Land Rover Discovery Sport; the sporty Porsche Macan and the elegant Volvo XC60. Where does the X3 fit in among all of those? 


Sharp handling

Class-leading infotainment

Strong engines


Slightly firm ride in M Sport trim

Popular 20d engine sounds relatively gruff

Comparatively pricey PCP finance

Number of trims8
Available fuel typeselectric, hybrid, diesel, petrol
MPG range across all versions141.2 - 47.9
Avaliable doors options5
Warranty3 years / No mileage cap
Audi A4 40 TDI quattro

Recently facelifted, the A4 is hard to fault, which is why we named it our overall Car of the Year back in 2016. As you'd expect, the ride is comfortable and the interior incredibly classy. Go for our recommended 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine (badged 40 TDI) and you'll also enjoy prodigious performance and good fuel economy.
Class-leading interior quality
Smooth engines
Well equipped

Entry-level engines a touch weedy
A BMW 3 Series is more fun to drive
You cannot add many options

So impressed were we with current Audi A4 that we voted it our overall Car of the Year when it was launched. Now, it’s no mean feat to take that prestigious crown, although that was a few years ago and Audi knows how important it is never to rest on its laurels. 

To stay in touch with the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes C-Class – in arguably the longest-running rivalry since the dawn of the motorcar, and one that’s approaching the vigour of Arsenal vs Spurs or Manchester United vs City – the A4 has received some pretty heavy updates along the way. Not just to keep it looking fresh, but elsewhere, too. It’s had a revised infotainment system and the engines – both the petrol and diesel variants ­– get evermore efficient as time goes on; to help save the environment and your money. 

Is it enough to keep the competition at bay? Well, that’s what this review is all about. We’ve done the digging through the brochures to work out what’s available as well as driven the various versions, so we’re well placed to tell you which engine and trim make the most sense. And we’ve driven the competition, too, which doesn’t just include the Teutonic triumvirate, but also the Jaguar XE and posher versions of cars such as the Mazda 6, Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Passat.
Most Audi A4s are company cars, which means diesel is still in demand. Avoid the 134bhp 30 TDI because even the more powerful 161bhp 35 TDI feels a little flat when overtaking on faster roads; it has decent low-end shove, though, so it's fine the rest of the time. But you’ll breeze past slower-moving cars on country roads and have far less stress keeping up in the fast lane with the most powerful and properly gutsy 201bhp 40 TDI. It can hit 0-62mph in just 6.9sec and it's our pick of the line-up.

And what about the petrols? Well, the 148bhp 35 TFSI needs to be worked fairly hard when building speed in a hurry. That's why the 201bhp 40 TFSI is better, which offers a considerable performance boost (0-62mph takes 7.1sec) without pushing up running costs too much – it’s our recommended option for those of you that don’t want a diesel. There’s also the 261bhp 45 TFSI that's no-questions-asked rapid (0-62mph in 5.5sec).

Both the 45 TFSI petrol and 40 TDI diesel come with standard quattro four-wheel drive and an S tronic automatic gearbox. The four-wheel drive helps launch you away from the lights in greasy conditions without spinning a wheel, while the auto 'box is quick and responsive. The auto is available with other engines, too.  
Three suspension setups are available for the A4, depending which trim level you go for. Technik and Sport Edition trim have our favourite Comfort Dynamic setup, which uses conventional springs and dampers. This setup puts comfort first, especially if you stick with the default 17in or 18in alloy wheels. It deals very effectively with all manner of lumps and bumps, yet still controls body movements extremely well over dips and crests. It pays to remember that larger wheels tend to make the ride harsher.

The pricier S line and Black Edition come with Sport suspension as standard. It's a stiffer, lower setup that sharpens the handling (see below) but at the expense of comfort, introducing a little extra bumpiness at low speeds. In our opinion that penalty isn’t worth paying.
The final option is electronically controlled Adaptive Sport suspension. It twins the lower and stiffer settings of the Sport suspension with a Comfort mode, which you can press to soften things a little and enjoy a much smoother ride. The trouble is it's available only on the top-spec Vorsprung trim.
Above all, the Audi A4 handles predictably and securely. The steering is precise and weights up consistently as you turn in to bends, and all A4's grip the road very well. Versions equipped with the stiffer Sport suspension feel the more nimble, remaining pretty flat through corners and changing direction with extra eagerness.

However, despite a little added body lean, we’d stick with the softer Comfort Dynamic suspension that’s standard on Technik and Sport Edition; it provides a better balance between ride and handling and there are sharper-handling rivals if that's your main priority. Front-wheel-drive versions with the more powerful engines can struggle for grip out of slow corners when the road is wet, but four-wheel-drive models, which are branded 'quattro', are pretty much unflappable.

We mentioned there are more dynamic rivals, so if you want something truly entertaining to drive you’d be better off with the Alfa Romeo Giulia, BMW 3 Series or Jaguar XE. These rear-wheel-drive rivals steer more sweetly and are more involving on a spirited blast along a country road.
This is one of the Audi A4’s strongest suits. None of its engines, even the diesels, transmit much in the way of vibration through the body of the car. The diesels can be a bit more vocal than the petrols, but are much smoother and quieter than their BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class equivalents. 

The A4 also betters its rivals in suppressing wind noise and you’ll only hear the occasional muted thud from the suspension over even the roughest patches of Tarmac. Road noise is also very well subdued, although try and avoid the bigger wheel options that tend to generate more tyre roar.

The six-speed manual gearbox is precise, light and easy to use with a clutch that's easy to judge. Or there’s the availability of a seven-speed automatic, badged S tronic. It flicks up and down gears near-imperceptibly. 
Number of trims8
Available fuel typesdiesel, petrol
MPG range across all versions34.9 - 60.1
Avaliable doors options4
Warranty3 years / 60000 miles
Range Rover Velar D180
If you want the luxury of a Range Rover, but can live without much of its prodigious off-road ability, then the Velar is for you. It's luxurious inside, has a massive boot and the D180 engine we recommend is also surprisingly economical. It might be the smallest engine in the range, but this 2.0-litre diesel still offers 187bhp – enough to haul the Velar to motorway speeds with impressive gusto.

Decent economy with the D180 diesel
Massive boot
Good off road

Average rear leg room
Slow-witted infotainment
Some cheap plastics inside
Range Rover Velar. It’s an odd name, isn’t it? Believe it or not, it isn’t the result of a few glasses of wine and a Scrabble bag; there is history to it. When Land Rover developed the original Range Rover, back in the 1960s, the firm wanted to conceal its identity derived the name Velar, from the Latin word 'velare', meaning to hide.

That's the history lesson over, so now back to the present, and what exactly is the 21st-century Range Rover Velar all about? Well, put simply, it’s a rakish five-door SUV that fills the huge price gap between the entry-level Evoque and the cheapest Range Rover Sport. It’s also the most road-biased Range Rover yet, but is still incredibly capable over the rough stuff thanks to standard-fit four-wheel drive and a raft of clever mud-plugging tech.

Engines range from a 2.0-litre diesel with 178bhp, all the way up to a 5.0-litre V8 petrol, which supercharged to produce a mighty 542bhp. In between those bookends are petrols and diesels with various amount of oomph

As for rivals, they are many and varied. It’s up against the stylish brigade of coupé SUVs –cars such as the BMW X4, Mercedes GLC Coupé and Porsche Macan – although you could also have a seven-seater, like the Audi Q7 or BMW X5 for similar money. Then there are the really high-end models that fall into the Velar's upper price range, models such as the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé and BMW X6.
Over the next few pages, we’ll take a look at how the Velar drives, what it’s like inside and how costly it will be to own. Or, if you've already been seduced by the Velar's sleek lines, head to our New Car Buying pages for big savings with a minimum of effort.
Number of trims9
Available fuel typesdiesel, petrol, hybrid
MPG range across all versions112.5 - 44
Avaliable doors options5
Warranty3 years / No mileage cap
Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDI 150
The regular Skoda Superb is already hugely spacious, but if you need to haul around industrial volumes of cargo, then the Superb Estate is what you'll want. It has more space than the average cruise liner, a smart interior and represents exceptional value for money. Our recommended 2.0-litre diesel engine has 148bhp on tap, and is well suited to motorway cruising.

Great value
Limo-like passenger space
Huge boot and practical touches

Some rivals are more fun to drive
Diesel engines sound a little gruff
Automatic gearbox can be a tad jerky in traffic

If space is a luxury, the Skoda Superb Estate must be one of the most luxurious cars in the world. And yet, while its interior and boot are huge, its price is anything but. What's more, Skoda offers a wide range of petrol and diesel engines and manual and automatic gearboxes, as well as offering four-wheel drive on selected models, so there's something for everyone to pick from. There's even a plug-in hybrid version, with enough electric range for a fossil-fuel-free frolic across town.

However, there are many other aspects to consider when buying a new estate car. Is it well made? Does it offer a comfortable ride? Is the handling up to par? Can I work the infotainment system without a tech-savvy teen permanently on hand? All valid points and, because the Superb Estate has a multitude of appealing alternatives to pop on to your shopping list, worth thinking about. Those rivals include the ubiquitous Ford Mondeo Estate, the remarkably similar Volkswagen Passat Estate, and the premium offerings, such as the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3 Series Touring. 
Read on over the next few pages for everything you need to know, including which engine, trim and options to choose, and how it compares to its rivals. And, once you've chosen your favourite Superb Estate, or any other new car for that matter, remember to head to our New Car Buying pages for the best prices without the bother of haggling.
Number of trims5
Available fuel typesdiesel, hybrid, petrol
MPG range across all versions176.6 - 57.7
Avaliable doors options5
Warranty3 years / 60000 miles
Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro
Beautifully made and quiet as a mouse, the latest Q5 feels like a far more expensive car than it actually is. As in the A4, the 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine is the one to go for, because it has plenty of oomph to get you going, yet also CO2 emissions low enough to keep your company car tax bills competitive.
If you're looking at the Audi Q5 and wondering where it fits into the German brand's now bewildering array of SUVs, then allow us to help. It fills the gap between the smaller Q3 and the larger seven-seat Q7, making it the one to go for if you're looking for high-riding Audi that's big but not too big.

Its rivals? Well, they include the BMW X3, Mercedes GLC and Volvo XC60, but you might also find yourself looking at the similarly priced but more rugged Land Rover Discovery Sport, or the sportier but less practical Porsche Macan. 
As it stands, the regular Audi Q5 is available with just two engines – one petrol, one diesel – although a plug-in hybrid version will be joining the line-up very shortly. We say 'regular' Q5 because there's also a performance-focused version called the SQ5, but you can read all about that in our separate review.

With four trim levels and a long options list, there's certainly no shortage of choice, but is the Audi Q5 a good buy? Over the next few pages we’ll give you the full lowdown on how it compares with its key rivals, and we'll tell you which version we think makes the most sense.

And whichever car you end up deciding to buy, make sure you check out our New Car Buying service before parting with any cash. You might be surprised by how much you can save on an Audi Q5 or any one of its rivals without any awkward haggling.
Number of trims10
Available fuel typespetrol, diesel
MPG range across all versions31 - 44.8
Avaliable doors options5
BMW 3 Series 320d
The 3 Series is our reigning champion in the highly competitive executive saloon class, beating rivals that include the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. The 3 Series features a strong 2.0-litre diesel engine in 320d form, and is huge fun to drive. Add in BMW's impressive iDrive infotainment system and it's a fantastic choice.

The BMW 3 Series; it has always done the business as the car for business people: a well-built, sporty, rear-wheel-drive saloon. And that basic concept remains very much at the heart of this seventh-generation model.

However, it is a thoroughly modern proposition, too. These days, you have the option of four-wheel drive (xDrive in BMW speak), along with a range of strong yet efficient petrol and diesel engines to suit most tastes and budgets. There's even a plug-in hybrid version, which has the potential to slice chunks of your company car tax bill and power itself on pure battery power for around 30 miles.

After you've factored in all the infotainment goodies and the long list of standard safety equipment it gets on top, the 3 Series must surely remain one of the most desirable cars on sale today?
More than likely, yes, but you should still be asking all the right questions before signing on the dotted line. Two of the big ones hanging over the 3 Series are: is it a better all-rounder than its two chief executive adversaries, the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class? And is it still the executive saloon of choice if you're looking for something genuinely fun to drive? These days the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE make that their primary objective, too.
We'll answer both of those questions and more over the next few pages. And if you decide you want to buy a BMW 3 Series, or indeed any other new car for that matter (including the BMW 3 Series Touring estate), find out how much money we could save you on the brochure price by checking out our latest deals pages. There's no haggling involved, so quite frankly you’d be mad not to: seriously, it's no harder than putting on your pyjamas at night.
Number of trims24
Available fuel typespetrol, diesel, hybrid
MPG range across all versions176.6 - 62.8
Avaliable doors options4
Warranty3 years / No mileage cap
Volvo XC40 D3
Volvo's family SUV is brimming with both style and kit, while also being spacious and one of the very best cars of its type to drive. It's so good, in fact, that we named it as our overall Car of the Year in 2018. The 148bhp 2.0-litre D3 diesel is our recommended choice, because it's more flexible than the petrol T3, so more relaxing to drive. It's economical, too, returning an impressive 42.9mpg in our True MPG test.
The distinctive-looking Volvo XC40 plays a different game to its German rivals. The big-hitting German brands tend to embrace the ‘Russian doll’ design philosophy, whereby every model in the range looks more or less the same, just different in size. That’s great for building a brand identity but the result is, well, you often struggle to tell one model apart from another. In the face of this, Volvo's styling creativity is, at the very least, jolly refreshing.

The XC40 is no carbon copy of the XC60 or XC90, with overall proportions that are very much its own, but it does carry some familiar Volvo styling cues. Its 'Thor’s Hammer'-shaped headlights, for example, and its equally striking LED rear lights, are just enough of a trademark to giveaway that this is still a Volvo through and through. 
Trim levels range from relatively basic to properly sumptuous and, so long as you aren't after a diesel (there aren't any), there's plenty of choice when it comes to engines. The most affordable models come with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox as standard, while the punchier engines get an automatic ’box and four-wheel drive.
There are also two plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models called the Recharge T4 and T5, which can travel on pure battery power for short distances, plus a fully electric Recharge P8 – click the link to read about that in our separate review.

Now, the XC40 is a former What Car? Car of the Year, so it's no secret that it's good. But it's been around a while now, which begs the question: is it still a better buy than cars like the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Range Rover Evoque? Read on to find out.

And if you decide to buy a Volvo XC40, or any other car for that matter, take a look at our New Car Buying service to find out how much you could save on the brochure price without any tedious haggling.

Number of trims7
Available fuel typespetrol, electric, hybrid
MPG range across all versions134.5 - 40.4
Avaliable doors options5
Warranty3 years / 60000 miles
Audi Q7 50 TDI
Audi's seven-seat luxury SUV is the best cars of its kind. It's incredibly quiet, comfortable to sit in and pleasantly efficient to run, while its interior is plush enough to shame most luxury saloons. As if all that weren't enough, the Q7 is extremely practical, having plenty of space for families and their luggage. The 50 TDI diesel engine is the mid-point of the Q7 range and makes acceleration effortless.

We often get asked "What’s the best car in the world?". It’s a tricky question to answer because, well, it depends on quite a lot. 
But the Audi Q7 makes a pretty compelling case for itself. This five-metre-long behemoth has been the benchmark in the luxury SUV class ever since its launch a few years ago, making some other very fine cars, including the BMW X5, Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90, look ordinary in the process.

Key to its appeal is its versatility, because it can seat seven people in lavish comfort, yet it has the driving manners of something much smaller and lighter. It’s a great tow car, too, and can even manage a bit of off-roading.

Not so long ago the Audi Q7 was given a facelift to freshen up its looks, and at the same time it received a new interior and an overhauled infotainment system (not all good news, as we’ll explain later). On top of that, all of the regular petrol and diesel versions were given mild hybrid assistance, allowing the engine to switch itself off when decelerating to save fuel. A plug-in hybrid model was also added to the range.

In this review we're focusing on the regular Audi Q7 but, if you're looking for something sportier, there's also the bonkers fast SQ7. Just click the link the read about that car.
Over the next few pages, we’ll not only explain why the Q7 is such a fantastic all-rounder, we'll also talk you through its few weaknesses. Plus, we’ll tell you which engines and trims make the most sense and which option packs you'd do well to consider. 

And if you decide you want to buy any Audi Q7, head over to our New Car Buying section to find out how much you could save on the brochure price, without any awkward haggling.
Number of trims8
Available fuel typespetrol, diesel, hybrid
MPG range across all versions104.6 - 97.4
Avaliable doors options5
BMW 5 Series 520d
The 5 Series won our overall Car of the Year Award in 2017 and remains the best luxury car you can buy. Its interior quality shames rivals that cost twice as much, plus it's great to drive, incredibly quiet and very comfortable. There's a reason the 2.0-litre diesel-engined 520d is the most popular version among British buyers, too: it's brawny, with plenty of power, but also impressively frugal.
Few cars have such a broad a range of talents as the BMW 5 Series. Larger and more comfortable than the company’s über-popular 3 Series, yet only slightly more expensive, it has been at the very heart of BMW's range since 'God were a lad'. In that time it has been considered so consistently the best that it's almost the default choice for those looking for a smaller luxury car.

For proof, just look at how the previous model (2009-2016) was a regular winner at our annual What Car? Car of the Year Awards, while the current model picked up the overall Car of the Year title in 2017. 

Part of the reason for this sustained success is that BMW has done a great job of keeping it up to date. Our favourite luxury saloon was treated to a comprehensive facelift in the latter half of 2020 that gave it LED headlights as standard (with super bright adaptive LED headlights as an option), a larger, more imposing grille, a more aggressive body kit and a smattering of extra standard equipment throughout the range.
But of course, the 5 Series isn’t popular just because of frequent updates – another reason people like the 5 is because it offers buyers plenty of choice For a start, there are saloon and estate bodies (click the link to read about the 5 Series Touring), frugal four-cylinder diesel engines (that feature mild-hybrid tech), gruntier six-cylinder diesels, smooth six-cylinder petrols, the option of BMW’s xDrive four-wheel-drive system and even a couple of plug-in hybrids. Oh, and there are the sportier M versions, which include the M550i xDrive as well as the absolutely bonkers 616bhp BMW M5 Competition; a thoroughbred performance car and a very different animal, which we’ve reviewed separately.
Of course, its main challengers also have their merits and produce a range to suit various budgets and requirements. So, is an Audi A6, Jaguar XF or Mercedes E-Class an even better choice than a current 5 Series? Read on over the next few pages to find out, where we'll also tell you which trim level and engine in the 5 Series' range makes the most sense.

And don’t forget that you can save pots of cash when buying a 5 Series, or any new car of your choosing, with our What Car? New Car Buying service; click the link to see all our latest deals.
The diesel 520d is punchy enough for most people and is our pick of the range. If you don't believe us, check out its claimed 0-62mph time of just 7.2sec; this is plenty quick enough to whisk you up to motorway speeds without any fuss. Performance is roughly on a par with the rival Mercedes E-Class 220d's, although in terms of real-world driveability (as opposed to outright 0-62mph acceleration), the Audi A6 40 TDI has a slightly wider performance window and is fractionally more flexible as a result.

If you want more grunt, the brawnier six-cylinder 530d has it in spades; it’s effortlessly quick and is so smooth (thanks to those two extra cylinders) that you quickly forget there is a diesel engine lurking under the bonnet. It has all the power you’d ever need. However, there will always be those who want the ‘ultimate’ iteration of 5 Series (aside from the outrageous BMW M5), and for that reason BMW offers the M550i. It’s a softer and more cosseting car than the race track honed M5, yet with a 523bhp 4.4-litre V8 under the bonnet and a 0-62mph time of just 3.8 seconds, it is still quick enough to embarrass most supercars. The only other petrol engine in the range, the 520i, is the least recommendable – it needs revving hard to achieve its best and is only fractionally cheaper than the brilliant 520d. 
But what if you desire efficiency but want to avoid diesel? Well, the plug-in hybrid 530e will suit you; it teams a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. With a claimed 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds, it is capable of an impressive turn of speed, and yet when driven in electric mode, you can bimble around town in near silence (more on this later). It is available with rear or xDrive four-wheel drive, whereas the more expensive 545e is available only as an xDrive model. We’ve yet to try this version, but it certainly looks impressive on paper; with a turbocharged 3.0-litre engine and an electric motor, it produces a whopping 388bhp and will accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.6sec. Both plug-in hybrids have similar official WLTP electric ranges: a maximum of 34 miles for the 545e and a maximum of 37 for the 530e. That’s roughly the same as you’ll get from a Mercedes E300e.

On the standard passive SE suspension, the 5 Series is supple enough around town over big bumps, but there’s a bit of an underlying shimmy through the car on anything other than super-smooth roads. If you do lots of motorway miles, you’ll probably find this quite annoying. Sticking with the SE trim's standard 17in wheels (or 18s on more powerful versions) helps to minimise the problem, but adding bigger wheels with run-flat tyres exacerbates it. M Sport suspension is quite stiff for what's supposed to be a luxury car.

On M Sport models (excluding 520i and 520d models) you can specify optional adaptive Variable Damper Control. However, this is only available as part of the optional M Sport Pro Pack and is, therefore, a rather pricey option. The Pack also introduces massive 20in wheels (the 530e gets slightly smaller 19s), so despite having adjustable dampers, the low-speed ride it offers is no smoother than the standard suspension. Therefore, we’d just stick with the latter and the smallest wheels available.
Unlike BMW's traditional strapline, we'll stop short of classing the current 5 Series as 'the ultimate driving machine', but it certainly snaps at the class champion's heels. That's the Jaguar XF, by the way, which has delicate and informative steering that the 5 Series can't quite match. The 5 Series' steering is accurate and nicely weighted, though, and more intuitive than the Audi A6's and Mercedes E-Class's. 

The 5 Series doesn't have quite as much front grip as its key rivals, either. But drive it at eight-tenths – exploiting its sublime rear-wheel-drive balance, rather than leaning too heavily on its front tyres – and there’s still plenty to savour about pedalling it down a snaking A-road. As you might imagine, going for the xDrive version (four-wheel drive) improves traction considerably in the wet.
The 5 Series does a brilliant job of keeping wind and road noise at bay, even at high speeds; it's designed very much with fast, German autobahns in mind, after all. For library-quiet cruising manners, though, avoid M Sport trim (aside from the 530e, which has 18in wheels, every other M Sport trim equipped 5 Series gets massive 19in items) and run-flat tyres, which drone and slap more over expansion joints.

The type of noise your 5 Series makes depends, in part, on which engine you go for. The M550i petrol is the best, sounding deliciously smooth and sweet even when you hoof it. The six-cylinder 530d diesel is remarkably muted, merely taking on a pleasant growl when you work it harder. Our favourite engine, the 520d, isn't as hushed as the A6 40 TDI’s under acceleration, but it pipes down once you're cruising. Meanwhile, the 530e is the quietest 5 in the range. When there’s enough juice in its battery for it to run on electricity alone, it’s almost mute, and is far from noisy even when its 2.0-litre petrol engine (shared with the 520i) chimes in.  

Range Rover Evoque D180
The Range Rover Evoque is one of the most stylish SUVs you can buy, and there's plenty of substance to back up those looks. It's well equipped, gives you a great driving position and hold its value brilliantly. Go for our recommended D180 diesel and you'll enjoy smooth acceleration as well as enough punch to execute swift overtakes.
Great driving position
Well equipped
Slow depreciation

There are cheaper alternatives
So-so fuel economy and emissions
Land Rover’s reliability record

The original Range Rover Evoque changed Land Rover forever. Before the watershed moment at which it was launched, the British brand's SUVs were handsome enough but in quite a functional, boxy sort of way. Then along came the Evoque and suddenly the brand was as much about fashion and glamour as it was off-roading and country estates. 

It’s hardly surprising, then, that Land Rover chose to be pretty sympathetic to the original design with this second-generation model; it would have been daft not to, given the first Evoque’s success in the sales charts. That said, it isn't too hard to see the influence of the pricier Range Rover Velar, particularly in the squintier lights at the front and back and the flush-fitting door handles, which pop out of the doors gracefully when you unlock the car.
Keen to capitalise on that success, Land Rover has made solid efforts to keep the Evoque up to date; 2020 saw it receiving a subtle nip and tuck inside and out, as well as more sophisticated infotainment and a range of more efficient petrol engines. You can even get it as a plug-in hybrid these days.

The Range Rover Evoque’s key rivals include the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and a former What Car? Car of the Year, the Volvo XC40. None of these purports to be as capable as the Evoque off the beaten track, but how do they square up when it comes to on-road driving manner, interior quality, safety, practicality and running costs? Over the next few pages we’ll tell you everything you need to know.