Audi A6 vs Mercedes-Benz E 220d: Comparison Review
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With the new Audi A6 finally in showrooms, it’s time to pitch it against the top dog in the segment, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Can a modern take on executive luxury better a more traditional approach?
Mercedes-Benz took luxury to a whole new level of comfort in the segment when it brought the long-wheelbase E-Class to India. The A6, on the other hand, is a more modern, tech-laden and edgy take on executive opulence. One common ground between the two is that they both centre their focus on one seat more than the rest. With the E 220d, the boss seat focus is clear in almost every detail, while the A6’s cockpit with three screens all focused on the driver's seat is a completely different experience. So which one pulls off this mollycoddling better?
- The Audi A6 styling is dominated by straight sharp lines and a large wide grill.
- Looks long, hunkered down and ready to pounce.
- LED Matrix headlamps, LED tail lamps and semi-aero 18-inch alloys are the clear standout features.
- New looks don’t reinvent the wheel but leaves the A6 looking attractive in a very understated manner.
- The Mercedes-Benz E 220d inherits the elegant curves that the sixth generation S-Class debuted in 2013.
- Yes, it’s a familiar shape and there’s nothing that we really love about it, but you also will be hard pressed to find someone with something negative to say about it either.
- In terms of dimensions the longer and taller E-Class is clearly the larger car. But on the road the lower, wider stance of the A6 gives it a very similar road presence.
The beauty inside
- The A6 continues the same edgy charm inside, with geometric shapes and straight lines.
- Dark brown faux wood inlays contrast nicely with a lot of piano black surfaces.
- Three screens tilt towards the driver seat, cocooning the driver in a very airplane cockpit-like experience.
- The fit and finish of everything feels very solid. Ambient lighting is nicely executed with many colour options to choose from.
- The minimalist design is clean and uncluttered but some buttons would have made adjusting the air conditioning possible without having to take your eyes off the road.
- The E-Class is an eclectic mix of old school charm and modern elements.
- The open pore wood trim, the round chrome air con vents and tan leather upholstery lend the cabin an air of richness that’s missing from the A6.
- The modern touches like the two screens that make up the infotainment and the driver’s MID, the mini touchscreen remote control and wireless charging in the rear are all integrated into the cabin in a subtle manner that doesn’t spoil its old world charm.
- The A6’s driver’s dash is the virtual cockpit that we’ve seen in the A4, Q7 and Q5. It gives you every bit of info you could ask for and displays the navigation map in a very easy to see position.
- The 10.1-inch infotainment screen is crisp and responsive but the haptic touch function isn’t very intuitive. It can be switched off, though, and this makes the experience a lot nicer.
- Four zone climate control, wireless charging, a panoramic sunroof, manual sun shades in the windows and an electric one for the rear windscreen, and ambient lighting to match the E-Class.
- It further features electric steering adjust and memory function for the driver’s seating position - features missing in the E-Class.
- And the Audi’s Bang & Olufsen sound system outshines the Burmester in the E-Class.
- The E-Class is no slouch in the features department with two 12.3-inch displays, steering mounted controls that even control the central infotainment screen, panoramic sunroof and 3 zones of climate control.
- The E-Class peppers a good portion of its features at the rear seats. Features like wireless charging pad, touch screen remote that can control the all electric sun shades, managing media and setting the third zone of climate control.
- The E-Class additionally features soft closing doors, memory functions and recline for the rear seats. There is electronic adjustment for the front seat as well and of course then there is the luxurious leg room that’s a result of that long wheelbase configuration.
- The A6 does pamper its occupants but clearly aims the brunt of its arsenal at the front seat occupants. The E-Class distributes its opulence in a more even manner but with a clear bias at the rear seat passengers.
Ride Quality and Comfort
- The A6 offers a very balanced ride and the suspension gobbles up big bumps and potholes without much complaint. It can get a little bouncy over large speed breakers though.
- Our highway drives were also nice and comfortable, with the suspension remaining nice and flat at all times.
- The rear seats are nice and supportive but the seat back angle is a little steep for a luxury car.
- The large transmission tunnel means that seating five will be uncomfortable for the middle passenger.
- The E-Class is super comfortable at city speeds, with the suspension absorbing everything our Pune roads could throw at it.
- The only real complaint, if we had to find one, is that on the highway it does take a fraction more to settle down after a bump. And over really broken roads in the city, a little side to side motion can be felt at times.
- The E-Class by far has the more comfortable rear seats, which recline and have acres of leg room. And this legroom means that in a pinch you could even sit five here if you wanted to.
Drive and Performance
Before we go into the details, note that this isn’t quite an apples to apples comparison when it comes to engines. The A6 is only available with a petrol engine while the E-Class’s most popular model is this E 220 d diesel.
- The 2.0-litre TSI in the A6 is a perfect Sunday special. It’s smooth, refined and linear. You’d be as happy cruising around as you would be pushing it through a winding road.
- The 245PS is plenty of power too, enough to propel this big sedan to a 7.04 second 0-100 sprint time.
- The 8-speed gearbox is smooth and quick shifting too, and you never really notice the shifts in the city.
- The one complaint we have with most Audi cars - the light and lifeless steering - makes its presence felt in the A6 as well.
- For a long, low sedan with power going to the front wheels, the A6 is remarkably predictable around corners and even some heavy footed attempts could not get it to understeer.
- That still doesn’t mean that you won’t experience any torque steer in a straight line when you punch it, though. It’s present and the light steering seems to amplify its effect too.
- Being a petrol, and a large turbocharged one at that, the efficiency is a respectable 9.60kmpl in the city and 15.35kmpl out on the highway.
- These small niggles aside, in the city the light steering, smooth gearbox and linear power delivery make the A6 the more a pleasurable driving experience
- The E-Class on the other hand makes do with a more traditional rear wheel drive layout.
- There’s little to complain about the E-Class when it comes to the driving experience. There’s enough power, it drives predictably and that extra length disappears when you get in behind the wheel.
- The only thing that really lets it down when driving a little spiritedly is the soft suspension and comparatively more body roll when compared with the A6.
- Performance is nowhere near the A6 but 8.62s is not slow by any measure.
- And with a 9-speed transmission it’s super efficient too, posting 12.83kmpl in the city and 20.79kmpl in our highway runs.
- The E-Class has its charm and stepping behind the wheel won't erk you ever- it just won’t have you itching to get behind the wheel either.
- Both cars feature dual front, side and curtain airbags.
- The Audi gets a park assist system that does all the steering for you, requiring you to only change between reverse and drive when prompted and apply the brakes when necessary.
- It also has a lane departure warning system that gives you feedback through the steering ever so slightly to remind you to keep in a lane.
- The Mercedes has a front collision warning and assists you with brake force assist in case a collision is expected.
- This has a cool graphic display which visually shows you the distance to the car in the front on the MID.
Price and competition
- The Audi is a bit of an oddball in the class as most of its rivals have diesel and petrol options in this segment.
- There are just two trim options to choose from - Premium Plus that priced at Rs 54.42 lakh and Technology that’s priced at Rs 59.42 lakh.
- The E-Class prices start from Rs 59.07 lakh for the E 200 petrol and go up to Rs 75.29 lakh for the E 350 d diesel. The E 220 d Exclusive diesel that we have on test retails for Rs 64.32 lakh (all prices ex-showroom Delhi).
- The Audi then banks on its value proposition to woo buyers in the segment while the E-Class charges you a premium but backs that up by giving you a better boss seat experience.
What we’ve seen from this comparison is that both these cars may sit in the same segment in terms of pricing and luxury. But in terms of focusing that luxury at a particular buyer they both are distinctly different. Picking a winner really does depend on what type of customer you are. If you plan to spend a majority of your time being driven around and will only step behind the wheel occasionally, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the better package. It’s delightfully comfy in the back and will still offer you a driving experience that’s befitting of the badge on hood, if you do step behind the wheel. If you’re the sort of person who prefers to be in control then the Audi A6’s cockpit will appeal to the driver in you more. It will reward you with a pleasant driving experience in the city and enough of a thrill on your favourite winding road on the weekends to pick it over the E-Class.