Car group tests

Audi A4 Ultra vs Mercedes C220 BlueTEC

Efficient yet powerful Ultra model aims to breathe new life into Audi's ageing A4. Can it beat the Mercedes C-Class?

Audi A4 Ultra vs Mercedes C220 BlueTEC

In the ultra-competitive executive saloon market, the Audi A4 doesn’t have age on its side. Yet while the car is getting on a bit, it still has a few tricks up its sleeve. 

For instance, there’s a frugal new Ultra model that boasts tax-busting CO2 emissions and penny-pinching economy, despite being more powerful and faster than the standard 2.0-litre TDI. And as with other A4 models, the newcomer is handsome, well built and packed with standard kit. So in spite of the A4’s advancing years, can the Ultra model take victory over Mercedes’ new C-Class?  

Even with its optional auto box, the C220 BlueTEC nearly matches the Audi’s 109g/km CO2 figure – it emits just 1g/km more – plus it’s arguably even more luxurious than the A4. However, winning here hangs on more than just efficiency. 

Follow the links for drives of the cars in this test:

Audi A4 Ultra

Mercedes C220 BlueTEC

And the following links for in-depth reviews:

Audi A4 

Mercedes C-Class

Read on to find out which car came out on top in this test...

Head-to-head

Control systems

The A4 doesn’t have the latest version of Audi’s MMI system, but it’s still intuitive to use. The central screen is a bit small, though. 

The C-Class’ excellent COMAND system features a clever touch-sensitive finger pad similar to the latest S-Class’s. Our car’s optional 8.4-inch screen supersedes the standard seven-inch version. Plus, the Mercedes navigation system has newer and clearer mapping and graphics than the A4’s set-up.

Lights

The C-Class comes with standard LED headlamps and running lights, while our car featured the £545 Intelligent Light System, which includes corner light function and high-beam assist. The A4 features halogen lights, but our car had the £1,130 Adaptive bi-xenon lights, which include a turning function.

Fuel economy

With stop-start and lots of fuel- saving tech, these cars are perfect for high-mileage drivers keen on keeping bills to a minimum. The Ultra has better official economy and came out on top in our fuel check. The C-Class has a colour eco display in the central TFT screen to help you drive more efficiently.

Verdict

1st place: Mercedes C220 BlueTEC

With its sleek exterior and stunning cabin, the C-Class feels and looks like a quality product inside and out. The engine isn’t the most refined, but with a manual gearbox and smaller wheels, it’s clean enough to make the C220 just as cost effective as the Ultra for company car drivers. The Sport model tested is expensive, yet comes with plenty of kit, so it’s a victory for the Mercedes.

2nd place: Audi A4 Ultra

Company car drivers will be attracted to the Ultra’s low CO2 output. The 2.0-litre TDI engine is refined and build quality is excellent. However, in other respects, the A4 is beginning to show its age. The cabin is dated, and it’s uninspiring to drive. Plus,in the right spec the C220 CDI can rival the Ultra’s CO2 output. So while it’s definitely the pick of the A4 range, it finishes second here. 

Audi A4 Ultra vs Mercedes C220 BlueTEC: key specs

 Mercedes C220 BlueTEC Sport autoAudi A4 2.0 TDI Ultra SE Technik
On-the-road price/total as tested£32,860/£37,820£29,320/£35,310
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£14,294/43.5%£12,637/43.1%
Depreciation£18,566£16,683
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£1,181/£2,362£995/£1,990
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,614/£2,689£1,552/£2,587
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost31/£445/B/£2027/£384/B/£20
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£30pcm (3yrs)£22pcm (3yrs)
   
Length/wheelbase4,686/2,840mm4,701/2,808mm
Height/width1,442/1,810mm1,407/1,826mm
Engine4cyl in-line/2,143cc4cyl in-line/1,968cc
Peak power 168/3,000 bhp/rpm161/3,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque 400/1,400 Nm/rpm400/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission 7-spd auto/rwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel66 litres/foam63 litres/space saver
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 480 litres480/962 litres
Kerbweight/payload1,570/565kg1,540/550kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.2 metres/0.24Cd11.4 metres/0.27Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (unltd)/4yrs3yrs(60k miles)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealersVariable/136Variable/121
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.9th/21st12th/26th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars92/84/77/593/84/39/5
   
0-60/30-70mph7.2/7.0 secs8.7/7.9 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 3.4/5.3 secs3.6/5.9 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th 7.3/9.3 secs6.6/9.2 secs 
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 145mph/1,600rpm140mph/1,900rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 50.3/36.3/9.5m49.6/35.7/10.7m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph67/43/63/70dB67/49/63/68dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range45.3/10.0/658 miles47.1/10.5/653 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined53.3/78.5/65.7mpg56.5/74.3/67.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined11.7/17.3/14/4mpl12.5/16.5/15.0mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket167/110g/km/18%161/109g/km/17%
   
Airbags/Isofix/rear parking sensorsSeven/yes/yesSix/yes/yes
Electric/leather/heated seatsYes/yes ^/yesNo/yes/£300
Metallic paint/LED lights/auto wipers£645/yes/yesYes/no/yes
Split/fold rear seats/climate controlYes/yesYes/yes
Sat-nav/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes

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