Twin test: low-tax large executive cars

  • We pit two luxury executive cars against each other
  • Driving, practicality and costs all explored
  • Read on to find out which one we would pick

To own a big, second-hand executive saloon you need a massive wad of cash to run one, right? Wrong. Choose wisely and a frugal executive car that is kind on wallets can be secured. We pitch the Audi A6 against its keen rival, the BMW 5 Series, to find out which is the premium king pin.

Audi A6 Saloon 2.0 TDI Ultra S Tronic (2011-) vs BMW 5 Series Saloon 520d SE Step Auto (2010-)


A6: The driving experience of the A6 has improved over the years and it is now getting close to the 5 Series. Even the Audi’s power output is the same. It also provides one of the most comfortable rides especially for long distances. A few hours behind the wheel and you’ll still feel refreshed at journey’s end.

5 Series: BMW is famed for building cars that deliver a really engaging drive and though the 5 Series is a large set of wheels, it still feels incredibly nimble. Whether it is zipping through town traffic or whizzing along country lanes, the BMW delivers the smiles per miles with surprising ease.


A6: The Audi wades in with a bigger boot and spilt rear seats that come as standard. No need to hunt for a car that had them fitted as an option as per the BMW. To give an idea of boot capacity it will accommodate four golf bags and two golf trolleys with reasonable ease. Drop the seats and larger items fit in such as a race bicycle, without the need to remove its wheels.

5 Series: You may think that a saloon body style is not ideal when it comes to practicality, but you’ll be surprised. At 520 litres the boot is big and families can fi t in pretty much most things from holiday luggage to DIY purchases. For those long packages or to carry a bicycle, you can drop the spilt rear seats. Be warned though they’re optional extras so not all have them.


A6: For just one purple note you can cover the Audi’s VED cost for the whole year. Yep, £20 is as bad as it gets. It sips a gallon of diesel every 67 miles according to official figures, and the A6 qualifies for insurance group 31 - three groups lower than the 5 Series. Fixed priced servicing packages help keep bills down too.

5 Series: Car tax is incredibly low at just £20 for the whole year - that’s the price of two cinema tickets. Fuel costs are equally good news with a claimed average of 68mpg – a smidge better than the Audi. Take long motorway trips with gentle cruising and there’s a chance you’ll get close to this, otherwise expect figures in the 50s or lower.



Audi A6

BMW 5 Series


2.0litre 4-cylinder diesel

2.0litre 4-cylinder diesel

Fuel capacity

73 litres

70 litres

Road tax

Band B - £20 p/a

Band B - £20 p/a




Insurance group




7.9 seconds

7.5 seconds

Boot space

530 litres

520 litres




CO2 emissions



The winner – BMW 5 Series saloon

It is a very close fight, but the BMW 5 Series just edges it thanks to a better driving experience. If outright practicality and long distance driving comfort is your priority then the Audi will be a better bet for your cash.

Click here to read our full review of the Audi A6 saloon

Click here to read our full review of the BMW 5 Series saloon