When it comes to luxury sedans in the $80,000 to $150,000 range, there are a myriad of options available. As expected, 3 of the leaders in this category for 2015 are the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series, and Audi A6. In terms of variations available, BMW leads the way with 14 sedan models, followed by Mercedes-Benz with 7. Audi, however, opted to trim down their sedan offerings to a modest 4 models this year. Of course, more versions offered in a lineup alone doesn’t equate to one car being superior to all others, so let’s take a look at how these 3 vehicles match up head to head in the following categories.
Exterior and Styling
With its wedge-shaped bonnet and expressive front bumpers, the E-Class has a more flowing appearance for 2015. The lines rising from the side to the rear add to the flowing effect and, along with the headlights, the aesthetically pleasing taillights feature advanced LED technology. The 5 Series offers a traditional BMW design, but with some modern styling updates. Its double kidney grille is now in a more prominent position, and the LED headlights (optional) are beveled at the top. From front to back, the lines exude sporty elegance, and the rear features a new taillight design. The A6 has mild updates to its front Singleframe grille and front and rear bumpers. It has what Audi describes as a tornado-line design from front to back. Attractive LED headlights complement the design and come standard on all models.
Interior and Comfort
Inside, the Audi has a comfortable and practical interior. Though not quite as refined as the E-Class, we feel like the A6’s interior provides a better ambiance overall. Able to comfortably fit 5 adults, there’s plenty of leg and head room throughout. New features include a 5- or 7-inch driver information screen and updated infotainment system. Despite those upgrades though, the 5 Series offers the more dynamic interior. It’s iDrive interface is extremely user-friendly and it has the largest display screen of the 3 by far (10.2 inches). Seating is comfortable and ergonomic, and it offers adequate storage space. The E-Class is arguably not as comfortable as the 5 Series, but it does have the most refined interior of the bunch with its high-gloss wood trim and either Nappa or ARTICO man-made leather. It’s infotainment system is more on par with the A6’s, as it isn’t as user-friendly as the iDrive and has a smaller, less crisp screen.
Under the Bonnet
The entry-level petrol engine models of these sedans all generate between 135 and 140 kW and identical acceleration times of 7.9 seconds per 100 Km. At 5.7 L / 100 Km/hr, the Audi is 0.7 L more fuel efficient than the BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Audi offers only one petrol model, but their high-end diesel model compares favorably with the similarly priced 5 Series diesel, as it has a slightly faster 0-100 Km/hr time of 5.0 seconds. The fastest of the group is the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S at 4.1 seconds, but it’s nearly $100,000 more than the most expensive 5 Series model.
On the Road
The A6 performs well on the road with solid handling around bends and twists. It has an extremely quiet cabin as well, and Quattro models provide tremendous grip on the road. The downside is that steering can feel a bit weightless at times. Likewise, the 5 Series has grippy steering and solid handling. With its light, responsive front end, it’s a bit more dynamic around the corners. And though the transmission of the E-Class isn’t the most responsive you can find, it’s equally adept on the road compared to the other two contenders. It offers a smooth and supple ride and has direct, responsive steering.
So many variations at different price levels makes these 3 sedans hard to compare, but we feel that the 5 Series is a slightly better choice than both the Audi and E-Class due to it’s dynamic, comfortable interior and on-road capabilities. So you could say this is a case where more variations available does equate to superiority, if only by a slight margin.