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Audi A6 vs BMW 5 Series

8 minutes Published: 29/09/2020

The luxury car market is incredibly competitive. Audi and BMW are in a constant struggle to win over the hearts of premium car fans. The Audi A6 Saloon and the BMW 5 Series Saloon sit snugly in the middle of both manufacturers’ ranges and are in direct competition with one another.

Today, we’re going to decide who comes out on top in the Audi A6 vs BMW 5 Series battle. Will Audi’s technological prowess win or will BMW’s attention to creating the ultimate driving machine see it fly streets ahead?

We’ve also been busy deciding a winner between the Audi A4 vs A6, so if you think an Audi is the one for you, see where your money is best spent! And if you’re not convinced by one manufacturer over the other just yet, check out our overview of Audi vs BMW.


Audi A6 vs BMW 5 Series

One German giant against another German giant. Which gets our vote?

A6 Saloon

RRP: £40,780 - £77,545

Monthly Cost From: £320.75

  • Doors: 4
  • Engine: 5.2
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 346g/km

5 Series Saloon (2017)

RRP: £35,620 - £56,425

  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive:
  • CO2:
  • Performs best in the 30-70mph range.

  • Great handling with tight road grip.

  • Difficult to use the infotainment system touch screen whilst driving.

  • Suspension is uncomfortably firm.

  • Has the quickest 0-62mph time.

  • iDrive system is intuitive and easy to use.

  • Less space for rear passengers.

  • Need to pay extra for front seat adjustable lumbar support.


Exterior

AUDI A6 EXTERIOR

BMW 5 SERIES EXTERIOR

Audi and BMW are going for slightly different looks with the A6 and 5 Series. The A6 is premium and sporty. The BMW makes a bolder statement with its kidney grille and has a little more of an executive edge around it.

Judging the two cars on their exterior is a touchy subject for some. There’s a lot of conflict between Audi and BMW fans regarding the aesthetics of the two brands. We’ll say this. The new Audi A6 is tauter and more athletic looking but the BMW 5 Series has a more aggressive feel to it.

The M Sport trim of the 5 Series comes with either 18 or 19-inch M light alloy wheels, LED fog lights, high-gloss Shadowline exterior trim, and anthracite headlining. With the Sport trim on the A6, you get 18-inch ‘5-arm’ design alloy wheels, a titanium black radiator grille with horizontal struts in Aluminium silver, and a matt black side air intake grille.

Both are sleek and thoughtfully designed, but at the end of the day, we can’t say which is the better looking - it all depends on your personal taste. If you’re a fan of subtle, sporty styling, go for the A6. If you want something a little bolder and muscular, the 5 Series is for you.

A6 Saloon:

5 Series Saloon (2017):


Driving Experience

Let’s start with the engines. There isn’t much in it between the two cars in terms of engine power. They both have 2.0-litre turbo diesel engines paired with automatic gearboxes. Whilst the Audi A6 has a seven-speed transmission, the BMW 5 Series has a smoother eight-speed gearbox with pretty seamless gear shifts whereas the A6 lags a fair bit. In a drag race, the 5 Series is quicker off the mark with its rear-wheel drive (RWD) but as soon as you hit the 30-70 mph range, the A6 pulls further ahead.

In this 5 Series vs A6 battle, the 5 Series comes out on top as the most fun to drive. The suspension on the A6 does not make for a comfortable ride at all. It’s firm and you’ll feel every pothole in the road with force. You can add on adaptive dampers and Audi quattro all-wheel drive to improve things, but it still doesn’t square up to the 5 Series. In the BMW alternative, you can swap the suspension to a softer set up at no extra cost, and you can also add adaptive dampers.

Handling is pretty good in the A6. Out of the two, it has the hardest grip and leans least. Steering on the 5 Series is weak comparatively but it doesn’t take away from the enjoyable driving experience.

Both cars have front and rear parking sensors as standard and the A6 has an additional rear view camera thrown in for good measure. Your view of the road ahead of you is fantastic in both, with blazing LED headlights on both. You’ll have the least worries about blind spots with the thin front pillars on the A6. Adaptive cruise control is available as an add-on on the BMW 5 Series but not on the A6.

BMW’s motto is “The Ultimate Driving Experience” and it shows in this category. In a drag race, it wins hands down. Suspension and transmission is smoother. Handling isn’t quite as good as the A6, but it’s not poor by any means.

A6 Saloon:

5 Series Saloon (2017):


Interior

AUDI A6 INTERIOR

BMW 5 SERIES INTERIOR

As major producers of luxury cars, it’s no surprise that both the A6 and 5 Series have gorgeous interiors. Whilst you can see where both manufacturers have saved a bit of cash (more plastic, less leather on the dash and upholstery) when you compare them to their pricier sisters, the BMW 7 Series and Audi A8, the interiors still scream premium.

The new A6 infotainment system consists of two touchscreens - the top controls your navigation, media, phone, and so on, whilst the bottom is home to the climate controls. The system uses haptic feedback so you can be sure you’ve actually pressed a button, which is particularly useful because you’ll struggle to keep your eyes on the road when using it. You can add on Virtual Cockpit at an extra cost so the important functions like sat nav are displayed behind the driver’s wheel and are operated by buttons on the wheel.

In the 5 Series, the central display sits on top of the dashboard and can be operated either via touchscreen or the rotary control near the gearshift. BMW’s iDrive system is generally seen as more user-friendly than Audi’s MMI infotainment. The climate controls are button-operated which doesn’t look as cool but when you’re driving, it’s far less fiddly.

Both come with standard sound systems (but you can upgrade these at a cost which we recommend for a holistic premium driving experience) and automatic climate control, and Apple Carplay functionality.

It’s a tough call here. Audi are known for their stunning interiors and we like the aesthetic of the MMI set-up compared to the iDrive. But the iDrive is easier to use. If you add Virtual Cockpit to the mix, the A6 wins but since it’s not standard, we have to go with the 5 Series for usability reasons.

A6 Saloon:

5 Series Saloon (2017):


Practicality

The A6 is the more practical model out of the two. In terms of boot space, the A6 Saloon boot has 530 litres and the A6 Avant boot capacity and A6 Allroad trunk is 565 litres. The 5 Series Saloon has slightly less at 520 litres, but the Touring has 570 litres. The square shape of the A6 boot is easier to live with, and the 40/20/40 split folding seats are standard, but you need to pay extra for them in the 5 Series.

The driving position is better in the A6 too. You get an electrically adjustable driver’s seat as standard so you can find the perfect position with ease. With the 5 Series, you have to pay extra for basic adjustable lumbar support. With this support, however, the 5 Series has the most comfortable front seats, but if we’re talking about the standard specs here, the A6 pulls ahead.

Rear passengers will be happiest in the A6. The optional sunroof in the 5 Series eats into the headroom and if you’re a middle passenger, the lighting console above your head also poses a problem. The A6 has an extra couple of centimetres of legroom in the rear seats, so there’s more knee wiggle room for growing kids.

A6 Saloon:

5 Series Saloon (2017):


Costs

When it comes down to costs, it’s a close call between the two. To purchase outright, the A6 is a couple of grand more expensive.

A6 Saloon mpg is 62.8 for the entry level diesel (insurance group 32) and 42.8 mpg for entry level petrol (insurance group 37). The A6 Avant mpg is 60.1 for diesel and 42.4 mpg for petrol and the insurance groups are the same as the Saloon. The A6 Allroad insurance group is a little higher at 43 and mpg is 48.7 for diesel.

The fuel tank in the 5 Series Saloon stays fuller for slightly less time in the basic diesel models, offering 62.7 mpg (insurance group 31) but the petrol is less thirsty at 48.7 mpg. In the Touring, the diesel manages 58.8 mpg and petrol 45.6 mpg. All of these entry 5 Series cars sit in insurance group 31.

BMW and Audi reliability aren't great, so repair costs can hike up. The Reliability Index says that average repair costs in the first 5 years for the A6 come to £541.75 and for the 5 Series, £523.80. This isn’t a major difference but is something worth considering if you’ve had bad experiences with maintenance and repairs in the past and don’t want a repeat!

An Audi warranty lasts 3 years/60,000 miles but BMW outdoes them here with a 3 year, unlimited mileage warranty, great for longer distance driving.

A6 Saloon:

5 Series Saloon (2017):

Looking for the best saloon lease deals on the internet? At LeaseFetcher we compare the best leasing offers across England, Wales and the rest of the UK. Check out our Audi A6 Saloon lease deals page for our latest pricing or for BMW 5 Series Saloon lease deals click the link.


Verdict

Competition is always tight between Audi and BMW. With these two middle-of-the-range models, picking the better car is no easy feat!

In terms of styling, picking a winner is subjective. You need to decide for yourself whether you’re a fan of Audi’s subtleties or BMW’s brave boldness. On the road, the 5 Series is far more fun to drive, with seamless gearshifts, smooth suspension, and fast acceleration, though the A6 handles marginally better. Both have gorgeous interiors but the iDrive system is easier to use than the standard A6 MMI touchscreen infotainment system. Passengers will be comfier in the A6, plus you can cram more in the boot. And when it comes down to costs, they are neck-in-neck.

Overall, we say that the 5 Series outshines the A6. It’s good-looking, offers an exceptional drive, is kitted out with intuitive technology, and who cares about the middle rear passenger anyway!?

Audi A6

4/5

BMW 5 Series

4.5/5