The Audi A4 was launched in 1995. It replaced the Audi 80. The A4 is the compact executive car from Audi. It is currently in its 5th generation which was launched in 2015. The first generation shared a platform with the VW Passat and ran from 1995 – 2001. The Second generation ran from 2001 – 2006, the third 2004 – 2008 and the fourth from 2008 – 2015.
Later generations of the car dropped its link to the VW Passat and started using bespoke Audi platforms. The A4 is a truly global vehicle, being sold right across the globe. It is also manufactured in several countries. In order to meet the requirements of the many markets it sells in, the A4 is available with a wide range of derivatives.
The A4 is available as a sedan or estate version, called the Avant. It is available with a wide range of petrol and diesel engines. It is also available in 2 wheel and 4 wheel drive (quattro) variants. (4 wheel drive is regarded as being almost essential for the northern parts of the USA). It is also available in standard and long wheelbase versions (long wheelbase is regarded as essential for this class of car in China). With the global sales of the A4 it is one of the biggest selling and most popular cars in the world.
The BMW 3 series is probably the most important vehicle in the BMW range. The 3 series was first launched in the mid 1970’s and has been through 6 versions since launch. It is available in a wide variety of body styles, including saloon, coupe and stationwagon, and is also available with a wide variety of engines.
Performance underlines all BMW models and the 3 series is no exception. The 3 series drives wonderfully, though the suspension can be quite harsh on the more dynamic models. All todays BMW's are performance orientated rear wheel drive vehicles with a reputation for good build quality and great driving performance
There were approximately 38 thousand BMW 3 series sold in 2014, making it the 11th biggest selling car in the UK, there were also over 600 thousand BMW 3 series on the road, making it the 6th most common car on the roads of the UK.
Check out the latest 3 series sales statistics here
The Citroen Xantia was the middle sized family car from Citroen, in production between 1993 and 2001. It replaced the Citroen GS. It was initially available as a hatchback only, but later an estate version was launched. It came with a variety of engines from the normal 4 cylinder petrol and diesel variants up to the 190PS V6 fitted to the Activa.
Citroen is world famous for its hydropneumatic suspension. The Xantia was fitted with the latest version of this suspension giving a smooth and comfortable ride in almost all conditions. The Xantia Activa came with ‘Hydractive’ suspension that eliminated body roll. It was effectively active suspension for road cars and was very effective.
The total production for the Xantia was over 1 million units in 8 years of manufacture.
Jaguar X Type reviews. The Jaguar X Type was Jaguars entry into the small executive car market, where it would complete with the likes of the BMW 3 series and Audi A4. It launched in 2001 and was not a great success from the start. It was planned to achieve sales of 100,000 units per year but never really even achieved half these levels.
The car was based on the Ford Mondeo platform and was built in an old Ford plant in Liverpool. The styling of the car was rather old fashioned even at launch. Initially sold only as a sedan the estate version was launched in 2004. The car came with a range of engines and was also available in 4 wheel drive specifically for the USA market.
Unfortunately, sales in the US never really hit the required levels and the car was dropped. Production stopped in 2009. The X Type interior was classical Jaguar with large areas of wood veneer and plenty of leather trim, but again it still felt rather old fashioned against its more contemporary German rivals
The Lexus CT is the small 5 door hatchback from Lexus. Launched in 2011 it is only available as an electric hybrid, with electric motors matched to a 1.8l four cylinder petrol engine. The hybrid system used is the same as that used in the Toyota Prius.
The CT has a stylish hatchback appearance and was the first Lexus to feature the Lexus ‘Spindle Grille’ on its recently facelifted version. The interior of the car is high quality with plenty of high tech features.
Driving the car is easy and the Hybrid system too a very large extent looks after itself. There are 4 different driving modes which optimise efficiency or performance depending on what the driver wants. The suspension is firm, but the car is comfortable and quiet.
The Lexus IS is the compact executive car from Lexus. It competes against the BMW 3 series / C Class. The IS was first launched in 1998 as a new entrant into this segment. IS stands for Intelligent Sport, and the car has performance at the heart of it right across the generations. It is currently in its third generation.
The first generation was launched in 1998, second in 2005 and the third in 2013. As with all Lexus vehicles, the IS is designed to be smooth, quiet and comfortable. Engine noise is kept hidden away (although some cars have a button that can amplify the engine sound) so the aim is effortless, calm, quiet driving. The IS does this particularly well. It is a very comfortable environment to be in. The interior is high quality with lots of technology.
The most interesting IS in the 3rd generation is the 300h, which has a hybrid electric motor partnered to a 2.5l 4 cylinder petrol engine. Rear wheel drive with upto 225HP (from both electric and petrol engines) the hybrid system is based on that of the Prius. The Hybrid system seems to work efficiently, without any driver input yet the car still performs well.
The XE is the new compact executive car from Jaguar. Launched in 2016 it's looks follow thos of its big brother the XF as does much of the bodywork and chassis
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