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Audi A6 Vs Mercedes-Benz E-Class: Comparison Review


One is a blend of conventional luxury with modern tech while the other is all out sci-fi. Which of the two experiences should you go for?

Mercedes-Benz ushered in a whole new level of luxury and comfort in the segment when it brought in the long-wheelbase E. It gave buyers a proper chauffeur-driven, S-Class like experience on a friendlier budget. And despite dominating the segment, Merc went ahead and made important updates to the car, further improving the unmatched rearseat experience.

Audi, on the other hand, has been absent from the screen for a long time. The last-generation A6 simply could not compete with the new 5 Series and the E. But now, almost two years later, the new A6 is finally here. And while it may be a regular sedan and not a stretched one, it comes in at a great price, promises a geeky experience, and also brings some decent dynamics to the table. But has Audi done enough to make up for lost time and challenge the competition?

Cars tested

  • Audi A6 45 TFSI Technology: Rs 59.42 Lakh
  • Mercedes-Benz E 220 d: Rs 62.81 Lakh

Which One Is That?

Is the question your friends and family will be asking if you buy either of these. That's because both these cars adopt the look of the family. However, while the A6 looks a lot like the bigger A8, the E can be mistaken for either the C or the S-Class, depending on what angle you look at it form.

The A6 is one good-looking sedan. Strong lines go across the body in a typical Audi fashion. The ones that grab the most attention are the ones on the bonnet. Dial in the width and the massive grille, and the A6 looks intimidating from the front, especially in the rear-view mirrors. Matrix LEDs grace the headlamps and the DRLs too, like the body, are sharp angular lines. The badass 18-inch inch dual-tone alloys need special mention. They wear thick 225/55 profile rubber to cover large wheel arches, and hence, offer peace of mind while driving over level changes. At the back, the waistline protrudes out like the old rally-spec Quattros and the taillamps, with its vertical LED elements, look clean and classy.

The appeal of the E-Class is not in its sharpness, but its elegance. The flowing lines all across the body give it a classic luxury car appeal. I don’t think anyone could dislike that shape. Maybe not love it, but you certainly can't fault it. And despite the long wheelbase, it’s still a very proportionate design. The headlamps fit the overall design perfectly and the unique DRL patterns help it stand out. The tail lamps, with the ‘Crystal’ effect, look particularly good. The 17-inch wheels, however, aren't that great to look at.

Overall, while the Mercedes has its charm, it's the A6 that commands attention with its presence. If you’re looking to bully people on the road, the A6 it is. Even in terms of tech, the Audi gets an edge with its Matrix LEDs.

Step In, Shall We?

Oh yes. No matter how good these cars are to look at, the cabins are even better. The experience is enhanced even further when the sun begins to set, and the ambient lights begin to create an aura. But more on that later.

The A6 promises a techie experience the moment you sit in the cabin. Upon pressing the ignition button, the seat and the steering align themselves according to the driver’s set profile. The cabin is dominated by three large screens. The vertically aligned screens on the dashboard take up most of your attention with the top one being a 10-inch infotainment system and the bottom one a smaller unit used for climate control, of which the A6 has 4 zones. Quality is top-notch with the neat wood and aluminium finish.

If taste and quality are your priorities, it's the Mercedes you should be looking at. It gets one less screen (2 instead of Audi’s 3), but they are aligned horizontally, which looks quite smart without being in your face. What's more important is the area around these screens. The cabin is surrounded with open-pore wood finish and complementing brown upholstery. The AC vents and all other buttons and controls are beautiful metallics pieces, which are a delight to touch. In fact, the rotating dial to control the AC vent flow as they stop with a satisfying click became my guilty pleasure while driving. The material quality feels superior to the Audi and gives you a proper luxury-car pampering experience. And we haven't even reached the back seat yet.

Why So Many Screens?

Why not? Given that tech via screens has become an important aspect of our daily lives. Paying close to Rs 65 lakh for a car gets you a bunch of them for your wheels as well. And if you are into this sort of thing, you’ll be fairly satisfied with both of these setups.

The A6 is the more tech-looking of the two, so let’s start there. While the cabin might not feel as luxurious as the Merc, it has its charm. The virtual cockpit display for the driver is crisp and relays a lot of information, including a full navigation map. The steering and seats have electric adjust with memory function. The ambient lighting is vibrant and the Bang & Olufsen system offers better surround sound than the Mercedes. It even gets 4 zone climate control and a wireless charger in the front centre armrest with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The overall layout of the cabin looks clean and airy, and remains focused towards the driver.

But, while the cabin promises a tech-laden experience, it starts to run out of tricks very soon. The bottom screen is just for climate control, and it feels like it could have been put to better use. Plus, both the touchscreens get a 3D like touch with haptic feedback to enter menus, which does take some getting used to. And while you can choose between an array of menus for the virtual cockpit, you cannot play around with the layout. Even the quality of the buttons isn’t as premium as the E-Class. The front storage spaces are a bit limited with shallow armrest storage and door pockets.

The two 12.3-inch screens on the Merc get a vibrant display. You can even change the look of the instrument cluster depending on your mood. Controlling the screens while driving is a breeze too with the steering-mounted trackpads and the touchpad on the centre console. And with the gear shifter being the right stock, you only have to take your hand off the steering for climate control.

To keep you entertained and comfortable, the E offers 3 zones of climate control, dual sunroof, 64 colours ambient lighting, soft close doors, and power-adjustable seats. Even the 13-speaker Burmester sound system sounds incredible. The cabin even scores high on practicality with large door pockets and a big centre armrest storage with 2 USB ports. But lack of memory front seats and a manually adjustable steering feels like a letdown, especially in comparison with the Audi. However, that's for your chauffeur to worry about.

Ambient Therapy

That's what the in-car lighting setup should be called. It really steps up the ambience and the experience in the cabin once it gets dark outside. Both cars offer multiple settings, colours and combinations. While the Mercedes has stronger lights and shades, the Audi's lights feel more airy and detailed. It even gets illuminated seatbelt clips for all 5 passengers, which is rather charming. Picking one is then an individual choice. I prefer the…… aaa…

Sit Back, Relax
If that’s what you intend to do, you can skip this review and simply go ahead and buy the Mercedes.

Still here? Good. Because there have been updates we need to talk about. The pre-updated E-Class did not have cup holders for the rear passengers. This meant the Starbucks cups had to be held throughout. Now though, you get two big cupholders on the centre console. Not just that, Mercedes decided to go a little further. No, you don't get a coffee maker. But what you do get is a wireless charger in the armrest to keep your phone juiced up, from which you can order a coffee. Mercedes still wasn't done. It has also added a touch screen integrated into the armrest. It controls the media, ambient lighting, and all the sunshades in the cabin including the rear windows, back windscreen, and the two sunroofs. This feature was previously seen on the 7-Series, not even the S-Class.

Other than that, you get reclining rear seats with electric adjust and memory function. The headrest cushion is cozy and also gets electric adjust. You also get a ‘Chauffeur Package’ in which you can take control of the co-passenger seat moving it all the way ahead, so you can stretch out and still have room left. The window controls are for the sunroof, window sunblinds and, of course, the windows. The seats are well contoured and very comfortable as well.

The Audi is also comfortable for a regular car. It gets some features like different zones of climate control for both rear passengers.

You Really Want To Drive?

In that case, it's the Audi you should be walking towards. Yes, it's a front-wheel drive. And yes, it's just a 2.0-litre with an 8-speed automatic. And no other powertrain is on sale. But it makes 245PS of power and the chassis is surprisingly nimble and planted for a luxury saloon. I am not saying that this is better than all the German rivals, but it's more fun to drive than the long-wheelbase E-Class.

In corners, the front takes a while to turn but then the rest of the body just follows. In fact, even while cornering enthusiastically for the photographer, I could not get it to understeer. The tail started to catch up and slide, which is commendable for a large front-wheel-drive car. Inside the city, it doesn't feel particularly quick but the engine is super refined and revs cleanly. This never leaves you missing power for overtakes. It's just that it won't excite you. Tested performance puts the 0-100kmph sprint at 7.04 seconds and the 20-80kmph kick down at 4.48 seconds.

Like with all Audis though, we still have the steering to complain about. It's light and lifeless even in Dynamic mode. So it's easy to drive in tight spaces but quite lacklustre everywhere else. That's an issue in another area too. When you call up all 245 horses in a front-wheel-drive car, you are met with a fair bit of torque steer and that's a little unnerving through the light wheel.

Yes, we are in this comparison pitching the petrol Audi against the diesel Mercedes. That's because the A6 is a petrol-only sedan in India, and the diesel E220 d is the most popular E.

The E-Class, on the other hand, is a 2.0-litre diesel with power going to the rear wheels. And while there is also a 2.0-litre petrol and a 3-litre diesel in the lineup, the 220d makes the most sense. It is a very refined motor and be it the city or the highway, it offers excellent driveability. The 9-speed gearbox makes it cruise with the utmost calm and on the highways, it managed to return a tested 20.79kmpl. The E-Class then is the ideal car if you want to drive yourself on weekends and be chauffeured on the weekdays. The A6 is better if you’re going to be driving the car yourself most of the time.

AI Safety

In terms of safety, both cars come with front, side and curtain airbags. The Audi gets park assist to take over the steering and lane departure warning, which gives vibration feedback and steers very slightly back in lane. Meanwhile, the Mercedes gets active brake assist, which gives front collision warning and assists with brake force if required. It's the Audi that is more impressive here!

Verdict

We can picture the customer the Audi A6 is aimed at. Someone who spends more time behind the wheel and appreciates the driving experience, luxury and tech it has to offer. If you're already in the Audi family, the A6 would make for a worthy upgrade from an A3 and even an A4 for that matter.

The E 220d is aimed squarely at the majority of luxury buyers. Those who spend more hours travelling to and for work and are better served by the more generous rearseat experience. There's no denying that Mercedes’ mix of old-school luxury and modern features offers the richer experience of the two. So, while the A6 might be the eye candy on the stage, the star of this show is still the E-Class!

Performance Table

Car

A6 45 TFSI Technology

E 220 d

Price (ex-showroom)

Rs 59.42 Lakh

Rs 62.81 Lakh

Engine Specifications

Displacement

1984cc

1950cc

Power

245PS

194PS

Torque

370Nm

400Nm

Transmission

7-speed S Tronic

9G-TRONIC

Dimensions

Length

4939mm

5063mm

Width

2110mm

2065mm

Height

1457mm

1494mm

Wheelbase

2924mm

3079mm

     

Performance

0-100kmph

7.04s

8.62s

20-80kmph

4.48s

5.53s

100-0kmph

38.72m

38.91m

City Efficiency

9.60kmpl

12.83kmpl

Highway Efficiency

15.35kmpl

20.79kmpl

More on Audi A6

Audi A6

Audi A6

Rs. 54.42 lakh Onwards
Ex-showroom, Delhi
Contact Dealer View On Road Price

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