Car group tests

New Audi A6 vs rivals

Audi’s new A6 claims to be the cream of the company car park. Can it see off key rivals?

New Audi A6 vs rivals

A new arrival has barged its 
way into the corporate car park, and Audi’s latest A6 has one objective 
– to secure class honours in a sector 
traditionally dominated by its German rivals. So has it got what it takes?

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To find out, we grabbed the keys to 
the biggest-selling variant in the range. Entry-level diesels are the staple diet 
of go-getting executives across the 
land, as their desirable badges and 
low emissions provide car park kudos 
without any Benefit In Kind drawbacks. 

The A6 2.0 TDI is expected to account for 75 per cent of sales and, of those, 
the majority will be in SE trim – so that’s what we decided to put through the wringer for its first group test. Up 
against it is a pair of intimidating rivals.

The BMW 520d needs no introduction. It stormed to the top of the class last 
year thanks to its low emissions, strong performance and engaging dynamics. It has the edge over the A6 on price, but 
is closely matched in other respects.

Watching over this squabble is the elder statesman of the executive sector. The Mercedes E-Class hit the office car park scene in 2009 and is already the 
oldest model in our line-up. Can it 
spring a surprise to beat the BMW, 
or will the Audi steal the show?

Verdict

Executive car buyers are real creatures of habit, and for years the 5-Series has reigned supreme as the ultimate prestige express. So does the new A6 do enough to break the allegiance many drivers will feel towards the BMW?

Well, with its impressive fuel efficiency and generous spec, the Audi is sure to lure company buyers away from its efficient rival, and they are unlikely to be disappointed. The firm has allied its trademark quality to great long-distance refinement, and produced a fine all-rounder. Plus, what it lacks in pin-sharp handling, our SE makes up for with comfort. Private buyers will also revel in its superior economy and strong residuals, which hand it pole position here.

The cheaper BMW is still the best option for driving enthusiasts, and we think it’s a more distinctive choice. Yet the well equipped Audi has the edge where it matters – on fast-moving dual carriageways and crowded city streets.

In third is the E-Class, which seems out of touch with the class leaders. Although it still holds plenty of prestige appeal, the uninspiring looks, drab cabin and wooden chassis don’t justify its higher price and running costs.

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