Audi A6 vs BMW 5 Series

By Jakob Hansen, 9/3/2019

The ultimate battle of the mid-size luxury sport sedans.

According to tradition, the Germans are who you go to for a luxury sports sedan. Recently, there have new editions, like Infiniti Genesis Alfa Romeo, and Lexus to this market, kicking up some dust in a challenging segment. But no one does the Germans, better than the Germans, and that's why no one will fault you when you look to the best, for the best. Que the Audi A6 vs BMW 5-Series

Searching for the best luxury sports sedan can lead you down some subjective roads. It’s not all about the quantitative data for these cars. It’s about how they make you feel. Even as an adult, the butterflies of asking out your first girl can still come back, and those are the feelings that cannot be expressed by numbers alone.  

Not all customers understand the need for a luxury sports sedan, not everyone “gets it”. But some of you work for perfection and expect the same out of your products. It’s not just cars, it’s anything that you use. From your automobiles down to your coffee maker, you demand the same quality of it as you do of your own work. That is what the Germans seem to understand, and why they make such a quality luxury sports sedan

 

Interior Quality

The interior quality of these cars is the quickest way to see why Audi and BMW separate themselves from the rest of the pack. From the moment you sit in the Audi or BMW, you can tell why Ford and Toyota can’t compete with them. The interiors are simply designed to a higher standard, designed with high-end materials that are unmatched in economy cars. But when compared to each other, how do the Audi and BMW match up? 

When you first open the door and sit in the Audi A6 you are greeted by a smart interior that appears to be laid out by a California coast architect and interior designer. Staring ahead of you is a massive 12.3” screen called Audi Virtual Cockpit. It is a fully customizable driver information screen capable of showing a full-screen navigation map. Look down at the center council and the two MMI® touch response screens are tilted towards you to give you the ultimate control. Those screens feature capacitive touch and give haptic feedback so you never question if your input has been received. Speaking of screens, that’s screens, as in plural. That’s right, there are two screens stacked on top of each other. The top controls the infotainment system, while the bottom controls the climate control, ventilation, and seat controls. The rest of the interior is a beautiful place to be. The large flowing dash isn’t intrusive and creates a sense of size inside of the already generous cabin. 

The BMW 5 Series is no different from the Audi. The interior is clearly based on an up-scale design using high-end materials, the BMW makes you feel important every time you step in. While not as technologically striking, the BMW has a more intelligent-looking layout. Not to mention, if you still like buttons BMW has you covered. Audi’s two screens may be technologically advanced, but even with their haptic feedback, sometimes you just want to press a button. The BMW gives you that option, along with the ability to use the screen as a touch screen or use the iDrive controller to navigate the infotainment UI. Extensive use of brushed aluminum and real metal for interior trim pieces makes the interior feel solid and heavy. I feel like I couldn't break something off even if I tried. Another important quality is the fact that the seats are just absolutely perfect. I used to say that mid-2010 Volvo’s had the best seats, but these might have just taken that trophy. 

Overall both interiors are striking and beautiful. The overall quality is unparalleled and the nearly endless amount of features will leave you finding out new tricks about your car until the day you finally give it up. With that being said, Audi’s interior is simply more exciting. The dual screens are a cool party trick and Audi Virtual Cockpit is the best in the game. Combine the technology with the stylish dash, and the Audi takes a leap in front of the Bavarian sedan.

Performance

When talking about luxury sports sedans, we can’t disregard the fact that they are, indeed, sports cars. These machines have come such a long way and are now available with more horsepower than most sport coupes like a Mustang GT or Camaro SS, but also have options available for those that are looking for a more efficient car. 

The Audi recently switched to a unique engine naming structure for their cars that, frankly, doesn’t make much sense. The base A6 engine, the 45 TFSI, features a 2.0l turbo four-cylinder that boasts 248 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. The EPA rates this engine to achieve a fairly impressive 24 city and 32 highway. Though every time I have tested an Audi’s fuel consumption it has always performed better than estimated. The larger 3.0l turbo V6, dubbed the 55 TFSI, spouts an adequate 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. That’s a good amount of torque to get you up and going. Special variants of the A6 do exist, in the form of the S6 and RS6, however, these are technically different models. And as much as I want to comment on the S6’s 444 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, but I’ll leave those numbers out (whoops). The RS6 is not currently available in the United States, but Audi just announced yesterday the high-performance Avant will be coming Stateside come 2020. 

The BMW has several more engine options available than Audi, including a plug-in hybrid. Thankfully, they use a naming structure that makes much more sense. The standard 530i features a 2.0t four-cylinder with 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. EPA rates the 530i at 24 city and 34 highway. The larger 540i features a 3.0l turbo straight-6 with 335 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque. Further above that is the M550i. While technically not a full “M” car, it still boasts impressive performance, as long as you call 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft impressive. Even crazier, there is still an even higher level of performance. The M5, like the S6 and RS6, is technically a separate model. So talking about its 600 horsepower and 3.2 second 0-60 time just wouldn't be fair. (whoops again)

Needless to say, these sports sedans undoubtedly earn their names. They are solid performance cars with the numbers to prove it. If I were to rank one over the other, I would have to go with the BMW however. The M5 has been the benchmark mid-size luxury sports sedan for around 20 years now, and I hate to say that Audi hasn’t been able to upset them yet.

Technology

This is a difficult section to cover. The amount of technology these cars have stuffed into them would amaze most rocket scientists. In fact, many actual rocket scientists moonlight on some of these projects! Okay, that’s entirely made up, but you believed me for a minute!

I’ve already touched on Audi Virtual Cockpit, but I cannot rave enough about it. The digital speedometer is easy to read and fun to look at, and the 100% configurable screen makes it far more useable than any other system. The BMW digital dashboard is equally as exciting to look at, but the lower reconfigurability of the system and the relatively difficult speedometer and tachometer readouts take a while to get used to.

Both Audi and BMW have the absolute best infotainment systems on the market today. Between the two, however, the BMW does have Audi beat. The pure intuitive nature of the layout is so easy to figure out and the seamless transitions between menus and screens react better than some phones. There is a reason that many other brands purchase the BMW infotainment system to use in their own platforms, it’s simply the best. 

Other than that there is an endless amount of safety and technology built into these cars. On the lower Audi screen, you have the ability to type in full words, roads, and address. No more scrolling through the entire alphabet to hit “W”, and then have to go back through again when you accidentally land on “X”. BMW has the ability to simply gesture in front of the infotainment system to perform simple tasks such as turning up the radio, answering calls, and so on. 

Both cars are packed with safety technology as well. Blind-spot monitoring, forward crash mitigation, virtual 360 cameras, LED headlights, you know, the “basics”. Beyond the normal active safety systems, Audi Pre sense detects and prepares for collisions from the front, rear, and side. Activating safety features like seat belt pretensioners, pre-breaking, and more. The adaptive cruise control in the BMW and Audi are equally impressive. The BMW has the ability to fully read all road features and possible risks using its advanced radar and camera systems. Using this available data, it is able to adapt and prepare for all upcoming events. 

Both of these cars have more advanced technology built into them than most other products available. Name another product that can perform all of these actions to such a high degree, and still be able to lay down a better track time than most other cars. What amazing products these truly are. 

Closing

Every day we push the envelope of automotive standards. What was once the top-rated car wouldn’t even pass an economy car in many aspects. Cars like the Audi A6 and BMW 5-Series literally create their own realm of automotive excellence that other manufacturers attempt to emulate, typically after several generations of vehicles have passed. Trust me, in a couple of years, you’ll start seeing some of these crazy technologies available in the A6 and 5-Series in other more economical cars. 

Deciding between the two is a difficult proposition. Depending on what you’re looking for, changes the recommendation. If you are looking for the best all-around sports sedan, the Audi A6 55 TFSI (3.0t V6) is an amazing value. The Premium Plus trim is the way to go here. It comes available with the dual screens, Audi Virtual Cockpit, and the virtual 360-degree camera. Opting for the Prestige will be nice if you have to have the absolute best. However, if you are willing to give up a bit on interior design, the BMW M550i is an insane monster of a car. Engaging to drive, more power than you will ever need, and near negligible differences between it and the M5, unless you are someone that is used to rolling in 550+ horsepower sedans. But from a performance standpoint, it is a performance bargain, if you can call $76,000 a bargain. 

As always, please feel free to give us a call at 1800CarShow if you have any questions. We will all be happy to help, but let me tell you, if you want some expertise, ask for Sean, he'll point you in the right direction. 

Audi A6 vs BMW 5 Series

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