BMW 5 Series Saloon v's Audi A4 Saloon

Comparing BMW’s much-coveted 5 Series Saloon with Audi’s highly advanced A4 Saloon makes perfect sense as they are both multi award-winners at the very pinnacle of their segments. Whether you’re a private motorist or a company car driver, we weigh up the highlights of each Saloon.

Distinct designs

Audi models are instantly recognisable by their bold single-frame grilles and the all-new ninth-generation A4 is wide and low. A whole raft of well-engineered exterior enhancements - from more angular wing mirrors to carefully positioned air inlets - make this the most attractive and fuel-efficient A4 yet. With beautiful creases and folds leading down the sides to the sharp rear spoiler and sleek taillight clusters, the A4’s understated approach oozes class, especially when specified with Matrix LEDs that are as clever as they are mesmerising.

BMWs are equally iconic thanks to their hallmark kidney grilles and the new 5 Series incorporates active intakes and louvres just like its rival from Ingolstadt. The BMW’s twin circular headlights are now LED as standard, and the car’s accentuated bumper and low front overhang boost its sporty credentials – something the 5 Series has always been renowned for. The rear light clusters now flow more deeply towards the central boot badge, and by positioning one or two exhaust pipes at each corner depending on the engine and model, greater symmetry has been achieved.

Conclusion: The larger BMW 5 Series naturally conveys greater road presence and its evocative kidney grille remains highly sought-after

Exquisitely appointed interiors

Seeking to continuously raise the standard of its cars, Audi has improved the A4’s already class-leading interior even further, with an uncompromisingly high quality of workmanship evident throughout its spacious cabin. The minimalist dashboard can be specified with Audi’s remarkable Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster and the excellent MMI infotainment system allows sat nav destinations to be written with the driver’s finger. Other technological advancements are in abundance, such as the specifiable Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, and Audi’s smartphone interface is fitted across the A4 lineup, supporting Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The A4’s 480-litre boot is combined with rear seats that fold flat as standard, giving the Audi a competitive edge and expanding its total luggage space to 965 litres.

The BMW 5 Series Saloon’s interior is, by comparison, slightly more youthful and bold with a stronger sense of artistic flair. Two-zone automatic climate control comes as standard and the six-speaker Professional radio and audio system sounds impressive by default - but can be upgraded to either a harman/kardon unit or a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system. The BMW Connected infotainment suite can be specified to act like a virtual assistant, connected to the cloud and used for emailing on the move courtesy of its unique compatibility with Microsoft Office 365. Optional gesture control and head-up display functions will impress 5 Series drivers and passengers, as will the greater amount of room provided in the front and rear, along with an increased boot capacity of 530 litres.

Conclusion: In a very close contest, the A4’s interior narrowly wins with its overall feel of sophistication

Wide engine ranges

The latest Audi A4 is lighter and more fuel efficient than ever thanks to aerodynamic and weight-saving tweaks. 

Petrol drivers can choose between the highly intelligent 1.4 TFSI unit that produces 150PS and returns upto 52.3mpg at the pump courtesy of cylinder deactivation technology, or the 2.0 TFSI (190PS) that emits slightly less CO2 and fares almost as well in the economy stakes. The 2-litre petrol is available with Audi’s revered quattro four-wheel drive system in a version that produces a potent 252PS.

Audi has always excelled in producing remarkable diesel powerplants and the new A4 Saloon offers no fewer than seven different tunes of 2.0 TDI and 3.0 V6 TDI units, the highlight being the ‘ultra’ engines that can achieve upto a stunning 74.3mpg in 150PS guise.

The best all-rounder is the 2.0 TDI quattro, while drivers seeking maximum power will relish the 272PS 3-litre.

BMW’s new 5 Series Saloon also appeals to a wide range of lifestyles and requirements. The petrol engines span from the 520i with a punchy 184bhp on tap and 129g/km CO2, through to the mighty 540i with a tremendous 340bhp at its driver’s disposal while still offering fuel economy of upto 40.9mpg.

Bavaria’s diesel units start with the 190bhp 520d SE EfficientDynamics, an engine highly regarded around the world, with CO2 as low as 102g/km and combined economy as impressive as 72.4mpg. In the middle of the 5 Series Saloon’s diesel engine range sits the 525d (231bhp), and the pinnacle is BMW’s smooth and powerful 530d which, in xDrive M Sport guise superbly blends performance, traction and efficiency.

Conclusion: For maximum fuel efficiency, it’s got to be Audi’s 150PS 2.0 TDI ultra engine

In numbers…


Audi A4

BMW 5 Series











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In the executive Saloon sector, both the Audi A4 and BMW 5 Series are superb choices with subtly alluring styling and strong road presence, well-appointed interiors, an abundance of technology and safety systems, plus excellent engine ranges. The latest A4 focusses on comfort more than its predecessors whilst the new 5 Series is proud of its sporty dynamics. Both of these cars over deliver and leave their drivers smitten. Your nearest Inchcape Audi and Inchcape BMW showrooms will be happy to help you choose between these formidable Saloons.