View Full Version : 535xi Vs: A6 - Pros And Cons (long)

05-18-2011, 06:30 AM
I'm trying desperately to decide between these two very fine automobiles. So far, based on a great deal of internet research and test driving the 535xi and looking at and sitting in the A7 (really a clone of the A6 but for the body style) here are some thoughts/observations:

Exterior - The 535xi is, indeed, quite conservative looking but then, so is the A6. In fact, the A6 is aruably too conservative and indistinguishable from the 2011 A6 (although it's a completely new vehicle. While I adore the A6's headlight treatment, I'm not sure they 'gel' well with the conservative, refined nature of the rest of the exterior (kind of like putting a disco globe in Le Cirque). I think they'll both age well and both are pretty much immediately identifiable as the marque they represent. Both manufacturers have now clearly embraced the "one sausage/three sizes" philosophy in their respective offerings. It's not easy to a 3/5/7 and similarly an A4/A6/A8 other than by reference to their size. Right now I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing as it helps with brand/marque cohesion but lessens the aesthetic options available to the consumer in some ways. I think the 535xi headlights are very, very attractive as well (only with xenon as the halogen angel eyes look just awful to me) though they lack the "OMG" factor that the Audi brings to the table here. From the rear, both cars are lacking and both trunk/tail light treatments are cures for insomnia. At least the A6 has some cool razor sharp tiny LED's integrated in their tail lights to add some punch to the otherwise uninspiring treatment. Viewed directly from the front, the nod goes to the 535xi. It's sculpted and muscular looking while the A6 remains a bit bland (absent the headlights, of course). The side view is where both cars really shine. They are both classic looking, mature cars that are certain not to be confused with lesser offerings. The side view is a dead heat AFAIK.

Engine - Again, here we have two superb powerplants but the A6's 3.0T is probably the superior of the two. More HP, more torque and, because it's supercharged and not turbo driven, absolutely no lag. Not that the 535xi is a slouch in this department, just that no matter how you design a turbo, there's always a certain amount of lag. And, because the A6 is significantly lighter than the 535xi I'm suspecting that it's be quicker than the 535xi at all speeds. Not that speed per se is the sine qua non of cars in this class, but it's always nice to know you have the power when, and if, you need it. Again, both superb engines but the 3.0T gets the nod here.

Interior - BMW interior have long been one of their Achilles heels. To their credit, BMW has improved their interior dramatically in the F-10 though it's still no match for the A6 which retains its position as the "best interior in class." Sure, the pop-up nav is a bit gimmicky but it does save valuable center stack spack when not in use and it's a very high resolution screen that lacks for nothing in the detail department. The seats and seating positions in both cars are as close to ideal as you're likely to find. Probably more comfortable than anything you're likely to find in your own home (lol). Dead heat here. Quality, craftsmanship and fit/finish are both as good as it gets so agin, it's hard to call a winner here. The only possible difference in the interior that purchasers may want to consider is that of the Audi MMI vs: the BMW iDrive. While iDrive has been improved significantly, the MMI system is still the more intuitive and user friendly.

Handling - BMW continues to be simply amazing in this category. We'll just have to wait for the A6 to land on our shores to see if it has closed the gap or remains the 'middle of the road' alternative to the BMW (sharp) vs: M-B (bland) dichotomy. While the A6 is certainly faster than the 535xi (0-60 5.5" vs: 6.0") the BMW is the handling champ until otherwise determined.

Reliability (Lack-O-Hastle factor) - Both cars leave a great deal to be desired here. The A6 is a brand new design (but for the 3.0T engine) so it has no reliabilty track record yet. The 3.0T engine has been very troublesome according to the Consumer Reports Annual car review though some on the Audi boards say that this was largely due to a faulty water pump design which has since been rectified in the current 3.0T engine. I guess time will tell. The 535xi has had myriad problems. From the RFT fiasco(s) to the HPFP issues, to steering grinding, pull to the right, etc. This is a real concern to a prospective buyer like me. It is, however reassuring that BMW seems to stand behind their warranties pretty well and most people seem satisfied with the treatment they get at their service departments. Audi OTOH has had a long and not-so-illustrious history of treating cutomers very poory and 'passing the buck' when it comes to rectifying service issues. I suppose this is highly dealer dependant matter but it is a significant concern.

Pricing - Interestingly one of the main attractions of the Audi had been it's price advantage over a similarly optioned BMW. In short. you could expect to save ~10% by going with an Audi over a comperable BMW or M-B. That seems no longer to be the case and it is a very significant issue for those resposible for marketing Audi's. Whether deserved or not, the reality is that most Americans associate BMW as a slightly more desirable vehicle than an Audi. While Audi had the ability to offer an comparable car at a cost savings, this made the (slight) trade off in presige 'worth it' for many buyers. Now, it seems they're going to be priced within a few hundred dollars of one another and, while many may (perhaps correctly, perhaps not) make the argument that the Audi is the better vehicle, many will balk at paying the same for an Audi as a similar BMW. Not saying this is fair, just saying, it is what it is. Throw in the four years of free service, probably worth about $3,000-$4,000 and it's possible to make the arguement that BMW has the price advantage now.

So, I'm still up in the air.

Decisions, decisions.

(P.S. The E350 is not even a contender for myriad reasons)

05-18-2011, 06:33 AM
i havent even began to read any of this posted above but my first thought is why are there no pics?????

05-18-2011, 07:15 AM
Can't comment on the new 5 Series or the A7, but I own an A4 and a 325 - the Audi is superior in every aspect. The only plus on the BMW is the panoramic sunroof... I also owned the A6 and drove 530xi / E350 and the Audi was/is far superior. As far as I'm concerned, the BMW/MB don't deserve their prestige...

05-18-2011, 01:22 PM
I'm having this dilemma deciding on a 550x M Sport Package or the A7.
I drove the A7. The A7 felt more connected and alive compared to the 535i i drove before. It was surprising to me when i got out of the car because usually Audi's driving feels artificial. For some reason Audi went towards the driving dynamics of E60 BMW while BMW with the 5 series went the other way (softer F01 7 series).

I know the 550i engine because i have drove so many 750, X6 and X5 with that engine. So I have no doubt that the the 550xi Msport will be a monster on the highways (usually I spend alot of time over 120mph here). On the other hand, the A7 engine felt like a big V8 in the lower range (1500-2500RPM) and it will provide all the needed power and ease of driving around town and on the highway. It definatly making more power than the 300HP they are suggesting. If i had to guess, more like a 350HP engine.

So it is very tough, i like the 550xi due to power, BMW interior design and NAPA leather smell, 5 year free maintainance (i only have to cover Gas cost even the brakes and tires they cover). I don't like the steering feel, transmission and weight of the car which is really felt through corners.
On the other hand i like the Audi design, presence, connection, driving dynamics, Stronic 7 speed transmission, price (at least 20K cheaper for the same options). I would like more power on the top end (S7 is needed here), i don't like the leather options compared to the BMW. It doesnt have the same maintainance deal as the BMW.

Now if the S7 is out, i would think that would be the choice, but it is still another 14-18 months away. So i have to decide on one of these vehicles.

05-20-2011, 09:26 PM
the 35 engines are great if you tune them but stock the audi 4.2 is smooth and strong. it lacks that off the line neck snap but its a cruiser....

05-21-2011, 01:22 PM
As I say, audis pick up hotties. BMW is an old mans car

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07-30-2011, 07:22 PM
I've test driven both the brand new 535i xDrive and A7 (which should be similar to the 2012 A6). The 535 really does not have enough low end power, and lots of turbo lag. In one instant with the 535, I was in full sport mode and floored it after a corner and it took more than 2 seconds for the power to kick in. I didn't enjoy it much. But the car was very smooth to drive. The A7 is equivalent in smoothness but doesn't lag at all. Power comes instantly and it's great. I would say the A7 has a much nicer interior than the 535 too, and I assume the new A6 would be similar as well. I would prefer the A6 over the 535 :).