Car group tests

Audi A6 Ultra vs Lexus GS 300h

Can clean-living Audi A6 Ultra topple industry heavyweight Lexus 300h in the battle for business drivers?

Audi A6 Ultra vs Lexus 300h

Like the struggle for business success, the battle for sales supremacy in the company car sector is fierce. In an effort to make it to the top of the office hierarchy, Audi has revealed a line-up of clean and efficient Ultra models that promises to appeal to the heart, and head, of company car buyers.

Despite their frugal running costs, these executive cars aim to deliver uncompromised refinement, performance and equipment. Powered by an upgraded 187bhp version of Audi’s established 2.0-litre TDI diesel, the A6 Ultra emits just 114g/km in SE, S line and Black Edition trims.

Audi A6 Ultra review

Lexus GS review

However, for really low company car tax bills, the petrol-electric hybrid Lexus GS 300h tops the lot. But is the latest generation of clean Audi diesel a better choice than Lexus’ new entry-level large executive hybrid? Or is the GS a better all-rounder?

Click the links above to read each review, then read on for our verdict.

Head-to-head

Motorway

Cars like these need to soothe away the miles on a long trip, and both are superb on the motorway.

The Audi only pulls 1,500rpm at 70mph and is very quiet, yet there’s enough flexibility in the engine to pick up speed without changing down. There’s even less wind noise in the Lexus and the CVT gearbox is at its best with a constant throttle – as this stops it sending the revs racing. You’d happily do a long journey in either of these.

Engines

The Lexus engine is smooth for a four-cylinder and the switch from EV running to petrol is seamless.

However, the Audi’s 2.0-litre diesel is refined and benefits from stop-start. It meets the upcoming Euro VI emissions standards and CO2 output is 114g/km regardless of wheel size or trim level.

Driving modes

Audi’s Drive Select system allows you to switch between Efficiency, Comfort and Dynamic modes or you can select your favourite steering, throttle and gearbox settings in Individual. The Lexus has Eco, Normal and Sport modes.

Verdict

1st place: Audi A6 Ultra

The clean, new Ultra has revitalised the A6. The 2.0-litre TDI is more powerful, yet now delivers class-leading emissions. Refined, good to drive, comfortable and classy, the Ultra makes financial sense for company buyers, and it demands no compromises in return for its efficiency.

2nd place: Lexus GS 300h

Lexus GS 300h Luxury front

Lexus is committed to a hybrid future and the new GS 300h is a better fit for UK company car drivers than the expensive GS 450h. But while tax bills are small, a dated cabin, frustrating CVT gearbox and vague handling mean it can’t match the Ultra’s all-round appeal.

Figures

 Audi A6 Ultra S lineLexus GS 300h Luxury
On the road price/total as tested£34,365/£36,820£37,495/£38,105
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£16,323/47.5%£14,586/38.9%
Depreciation£18,042£22,909
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£1,235/£2,470£1,123/£2,246
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,671/£2,785£2,315/£3,858
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost28/£416/C/£3033/£410/C/£30
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£159/£309/£159£773 (3yrs)
   
Length/wheelbase4,915/2,912mm4,850/2,855mm
Height/width1,455/1,874mm1,455/1,840mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,968cc4cyl in-line/2,494cc
Peak power/revs187/3,800 bhp/rpm220/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs400/1,750 Nm/rpm221/4,200 Nm/rpm
Transmission7-spd dual-clutch/fwdCVT/rwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel73 litres/space saver66 litres/space saver
Boot capacity (seats up/down)530/995 litres451 litres/N/A
Kerbweight/payload1,660/580kg1,830/435kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.9 metres/0.26Cd10.6 metres/0.27Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealersVariable/12110,000 (1yr)/51
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.12th/24th4th/1st
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars91/83/41/5N/A
   
0-60/30-70mph8.5/7.4 secs7.9/7.1 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th/kickdown2.7/3.5/2.9 secsN/A/3.0 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/kickdown5.3/8.0/4.5 secsN/A/4.1 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph144mph/1,500rpm118mph/2,200rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph53.8/38.6/9.4m52.0/38.2/9.5m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph70/45/62/67dBN/A/N/A/62/70dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range44.4/9.8/713 miles30.4/6.7/441 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined55.4/72.4/64.2mpg56.5/58.9/57.6mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined12.2/15.9/14.1mpl12.4/12.9/12.6mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket170/114g/km/18%215/113g/km/15%
   
Airbags/Isofix/cruise controlSix/yes/yes10/yes/yes
Electric/leather/heated seatsPart/yes/£300Yes/yes/yes
Met paint/xenons/split/fold rear seats£655/yes/yes£610/yes/no
Park sensors front/rear/climate ctrlYes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes
Sat-nav/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes

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