BMW 540i vs. Audi A6

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - November 14, 2017

The midsize luxury sedan segment is rocking, as the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class are all vying for top-dog status, while the Lexus GS, Infiniti Q70, and others battle for the leftovers.

Two of the front-runners, the BMW 540i and Audi A6, are among the most popular in the class. We take a look at what makes these two German luxury sedans click to find out which is the better buy for the typical luxury car shopper.

Continue reading to find out which we feel is best.

See a side-by-side comparison of the 540 & A6 »

What the 540i Gets Right

Fresh off a redesign, the 540i boasts BMW's latest styling, giving it a classy and sporty look that the older, more reserved A6 has a hard time matching. The interior is also stylish and boasts lots of tech, including a 10.2-inch touchscreen in the center of the dash and an 8.8-inch LED screen between the driver’s instrument cluster and head-up display.

Beneath the 540i's skin is a new 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine that produces 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, putting it in a near dead heat with the A6's 3.0-liter V6 engine. And with its rear-wheel-drive layout (all-wheel drive is an option), the 540i enjoys a more sporting, entertaining handling character than the A6, which defaults to front-wheel drive but is most popular with all-wheel drive.

Safety is another area where the 540i one ups the A6 – the IIHS rates it as a Top Safety Pick Plus, whereas the older A6 could only muster up a Top Safety Pick rating due to its so-so automatic emergency braking system and “Marginal” headlight tests.

Finally, the 540i swallows a good bit more cargo at 18.7 cubic feet to the A6’s 14.1 cubes.

What the A6 Gets Right

Despite its age, the A6 remains a handsome, stylish option inside and out. While this may be boring to some, other buyers may appreciate the more restrained, longer-lasting look down the road. The A6’s $57,475 base price (including $975 destination fee) crushes the 540i’s starting price (including $995 destination fee) by a respectable $1,220, leaving some room for options.

While the Audi A6's supercharged V6's 340 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque output put it just about neck and neck with the 540i, its standard all-wheel drive gives the Audi better traction at launch.

While the apples-to-apples comparison of standard features favors the 540i, the A6’s lower price allows buyers to go with a higher trim level and still be under the BMW’s base price. This could be a huge selling point for buyers on a strict budget.

Audi Gets Close

The Audi A6 gets very close to catching the BMW 540, but the Bimmer pulls away with its more useful trunk and more upscale feel overall. That said, the A6 is great for the luxury car buyer with a slightly tighter budget or those who need all-wheel drive.

Verdict: BMW 540

The Bimmer’s powerful base engine and sport-sedan-like handling gave it the early lead, while its more businessperson-friendly trunk pushed it over the top. Sprinkle in the brand cachet that comes with driving a BMW and the more upscale feel, and you can see why the 540 outlasts the A6.

Take a closer look at the BMW 540 »

Take a closer look at the Audi A6 »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website