Twin Test: Audi vs BMW

  • We pit company car favourites, the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 against each other
  • Driving, running costs and practicality all considered
  • Find out which comes out on top in our twin test

An ex-executive express can make for some swish wheels and a used one can still offer a lot of motoring miles for your moola.

So should your cash be splashed on an Audi A4 or the BMW 3 Series? We line up the brands’ two business editions from 2006 to see whose king of the reps.

Audi A4 2.0TDI S Line (2005-07) vs BMW 3-Series 320d M Sport (2005-11)

Driving

The Audi A4 has improved over the years when it comes to driving but it still can’t match the 3 Series. It does have a slightly more powerful diesel engine but that doesn’t make a huge difference to the figures. It has a slightly faster top speed overall but it’s slower to accelerate from 0-60mph compared to the BMW.

One of the key strengths of BMW, and in particular the 3 Series, is its ability to deliver an engaging drive. Rear-wheel propulsion and a steering set-up that provides excellent feedback combine to instil a real sense of confidence. The diesel engine offers a great mix of performance and economy too.

Practicality

Boot space matches the BMW with 460 litres, and the A4 saloon has a similar-shaped boot opening. Rear passengers, however, get a better deal with more space all round. ISOFIX and rear parking sensors are optional whereas heated door mirrors and a full size spare wheel come as standard.

The BMW does emphasise the ‘compact’ in compact executive saloon - particularly in the rear where there’s only room for two adults not three. Boot size is not bad at 460 litres and it has a decent-sized opening but the lip is a bit high. Parking sensors are standard on M Sport but sat-nav is optional fit.

Costs

Another close contest as the Audi almost matches the BMW for frugal fuel consumption. Servicing costs at franchised Audi dealers can stack up but Audis tend to age well thanks to robust build quality. Independent specialists will provide cheaper servicing and parts but ensure they have a good reputation.

Again there is little to choose between the two cars, though the slightly more powerful Audi is slightly less frugal. The BMW should be good for close to 40mpg on average during day-to-day driving and display even more frugal behaviour on longer runs. Fixed cost franchised dealer services help keep costs down.

Stats

 

Audi A4

BMW 3 Series

Engine

2.0-litre diesel with six-speed manual

2.0-litre diesel with six-speed manual

Fuel capacity

70 litres

61 litres

Road tax

£180

£180

Power

167bhp

160bhp

Insurance Group

30

26

0-62mph

8.3 seconds

8 seconds

Boot space

460 litres

460 litres

Economy

48mpg

49mpg

CO2 emissions

154g/km

153g/km

Winner - BMW 3-Series 320D M Sport

The A4 is well-built, stylish and a more practical choice compared to the BMW 3 Series. Both cars match for most criteria but the Audi isn’t as engaging to drive and costs fractionally less to run, so takes the runner up spot.

It’s a very close contest, with the Audi and BMW trading equal blows, but the 3 Series takes it thanks to a superior driving experience. It still is the class act for delivering driver appeal.