Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI Ultra, BMW 418d Gran Coupé, Front view 22 Photos Zoom

Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 418d in the comparison test: Elegant four-door models battle it out

Four doors and a large boot lid are a welcome justification to finally drive one of these coupés. For even in the basic diesel version both are all about elegance in form and motion.

But it is evident that the large boot lid and its flexible interior have indeed been extremely underestimated in terms of their significance up to this point.. How often have fridges and garden furniture had to remain outside, just because honest notchback limousines struggle with bulky items? But why should you then go straight for an estate, even though a coupé would be so much more stylish? You shouldn't, is what BMW now also think, following in the footsteps of Audi, positioning the 4 Series Gran Coupé in opposition to the Audi A5 Sportback since 2009.

The BMW 4 Series offers simpler controls

With its flowing roof lines and frameless side windows, both consider themselves to be finer, more elegant alternatives to the A4 and 3 Series – granted a little lower than the saloons, but more comfortable and more practical than traditional coupés. Thanks to the back doors, the back seats can be entered without acrobatics, while the reduced head room and visibility can be easily gotten over, in tribute to the stylish line. Added to this is the additional variability, with the BMW even offering an electrically actuated boot lid as standard and an optional three-part folding rear seat back.

The 4 Series demonstrates the benefits in having been born later through the simpler operation via the iDrive controller including the larger, razor-sharp map for the navigation system and additional safety extras such as road sign detection or automatic distance control with stop-and-go function. The Audi A5 Sportback will only be able to make improvements in this regard with the model change next year, but otherwise it doesn't seem a bit outdated whatsoever.

BMW lighter on its feet

In particular when it comes to comfort, the Audi A5 Sportback is still entirely in keeping with the times, with much softer suspension and bothers passengers with noticeably fewer rumbling noises and vibrations on decaying road surfaces. On the large, optional sports seats, long journeys can be enjoyed in relaxation, and acoustically, the two-litre TDI holds itself back pleasantly. Alongside the diesel, which is of the same capacity, the chassis of the BMW in particular Diesel produces harsher tones, absorbing transverse joints and frost buckling rather firmly and stiffly, even in the adaptive chassis' (1,100 Euros) Comfort mode.

On the other hand, the Gran Coupé is not slow to deliver the drive experience promised by the switch on the central console. The BMW comes across as extremely agile and light-footed, steers extremely precisely and willingly and provides perfect feedback at all times via the variable sports steering (250 Euros), however, in return for this there is a certain nerviness until you are back on the straight. In any case, the front-driven Audi A5 Sportback holds stoically to its path and completes the drive dynamics tests similarly quickly and safely in spite of a greater tendency towards understeer and roll.

Audi A5 Sportback with an accurate six-speed transmission

The two cars, with the tested basic self-igniting engines, are even on a par when it comes to longitudinal dynamics. The two-litre turbo diesels won't enthuse anyone using grand sentiments, but do serve as an efficient drive source in everyday driving. They do this with commitment and with different accents: In terms of power (141 HP) and acceleration, the BMW does have a slight advantage over the Audi A5 Sportback, however to achieve this – and to deliver the maximum torque – it does need higher revs.

No problem for the instantly appealing direct injector, particularly since switching gears with the precise, appropriately spaced six-speed transmission is simply fun. So those who like to knuckle down and step on the clutch, can do without the otherwise very much recommended eight-speed automatic converter transmission (2,150 Euros). In the Audi A5 Sportback there is still only has the stepless Multitronic (2,200 Euros) if you select the normal 2.0 TDI without the Ultra add-on.

The Audi A5 Sportback consumes 6.3l/100km

The Ultra, including optimised tyres, chassis tuning and altered gear ratio costs 400 Euros extra and improves the efficiency class from A to A+, but most importantly, the efficiency itself. With t consumption of 6.3 l/100 km, the Audi A5 Sportback still guzzles on average half a litre less than the 418d and can thus travel 1,000 kilometres, and displays sophisticated manners, running quietly and with low vibrations. Moreover, its six-speed transmission is easy to operate, if not a little gristly and not quite so precise.

The brakes in both cars are powerful and reliable, and there is a wide range of assistance systems and tempting extras available for both the Audi A5 Sportback and the 4 Series – which quickly drive the hefty base price to over 50,000 Euros. However, this applies equally to the A4 and 3 Series, and in spite of the better equipment, their handsome brothers are only a few hundred Euros more expensive. And so it is easy to take the risk and go for the larger boot lid.

Author

Photo

Hans-Dieter Seufert

Date

10 May 2015
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