Dec 28

Car Comparison : A6 vs 535i vs XF

(Photos to come later)
We recently tested 3 luxo-mobiles priced in the $115k – $130k(plus options) Aussie dollar mark in the Upper Yarra Valley of Victoria. Here’s our impressions of them.

The 3 vehicles we have assembled are the Audi A6 3.0TFSI, the BMW 535i and, as something of a wild card entry, Jaguar’s XF Luxury.

We also wanted to pit these three against an E-Class Merc, but couldn’t obtain a test car in time for the comparison.

Once you include a few options (and who doesn’t in this part of the market) Prices are $143,400 for the BMW, $148,700 for the Audi and $154,000 for the Jaguar.

The options fitted to our test vehicles are :

The S Line Sport Package, Quattro Sports Differentials and Bang and Olufsen Sound System for the A6.

M-Sport Package, 19 inch M-branded Rims, auto-sealing doors, and optional paint colour for the 535.

Jaguar Premium Electric Seats and Carbonfibre interior trim in the XF.

Engines and Performance
The Audi A6 3.0TFSI is fitted with a 3.0L Supercharged V6. This produces 220kW of power and 440Nm of torque.

The BMW 535i is fitted with a 3.0L Turbocharged Inline 6 that produces 225kW of power and 400Nm of torque. So it just beats the Audi for power, but loses out slightly on peak torque.

The Jaguar knocks them both down onto the canvas, with a massive 283kW of power and 515Nm of torque produced from it’s 5.0L V8.

The Audi weighs in at 1740kG, the BMW at 1700kG and the Jaguar at 1780kG.

Over the acceleration benchmarks, the A6 manages 0-100km/h in 6.47 seconds before reaching 400 metres in 14.91 seconds. The 535i goes from standstill to 100 kays in 5.91 seconds on it’s way to a 400M time of 14.12. The XF is, of course, quicker than either of the German pair, although not by as large a margin as might be expected. It launches from 0-100 in 5.80 seconds and 400M in 13.87.

On the roll, it’s not quite as simple as looking at the peak power/torque and weight figures. There are a few other things at play here.
The Audi’s peak torque is produced from 2900-4500rpm, the BMW’s all the way from 1200-5000rpm and the Jaguar’s at 3500rpm.

Then there is the matter of transmissions. The A6 utilises a 7 speed auto, the 535i an 8 speed, while the XF makes do with a 6 speeder.

Both of which level the playing field in favour of the BMW for rolling acceleration performance. For the record, the A6 manages 80-120km/h in 4.76 seconds, while the 535i and XF are level pegged with a time of 3.59 seconds.

Driving the A6, there’s a strange lack of motive power at anything above, say, 3800rpm. It’s like it delivers all it’s got in it’s first half of the rev range and then gives up the ghost for the second half. It also feels lazy in it’s initial throttle response. You can feel the pause as the engine takes in a deep breath before it starts boogieing down.

By comparison, the 535i is a revelation. Despite traditional wisdom dictating that a turbocharged engine should be laggy, the BMW’s Inline six is razor sharp. It responds instantly to commands from the right foot. Anywhere, any time, any gear, it just goes. It is helped by that 8 speed transmission that adaptively learns your driving style and responds almost as quickly as the engine does.

The flexibility of the big Jag’s V8 cannot be denied. It only requires a touch of throttle to move at any point in time. Push the accelerator pedal down halfway and the big cat responds. It’s obvious after the 2 German vehicles that the XF is not reliant on smart, adaptive gear changes to go about it’s work. It’s just ready to go at all times.

Ride and Handling
Our test roads were a mix of open highway and roads with a lot of medium speed corners.

The A6’s steering proved well weighted, direct and feelsome at all times. While the chassis managed to belie the weight of the car to feel both light and agile. The AWD grip is commendable on wet or uneven patches of road and the car feels balanced fairly well, with a trace of corner-entry understeer when pushed hard.

The Audi rides impressively well and manages to absorb potholes and undulations in the road without much impact on the passengers aboard the car. It’s plush, but controlled.

BMW were obviously aiming for a more sporty feel with the 535i (particularly with the M Package) and it shows. The 535i has the most direct and weighty steering of the 3. The Bimmer is generally tauter overall and less absorbent of bumps. It is less comfortable when cruising along casually than the A6 is.

Overall chassis balance is impressive with a mild oversteer slant coming out of neutrality.

On corner entry, however, there is a definite sensation of weight being transferred from one front wheel to the other. It isn’t a big deal, but something that has to be allowed for before pushing hard into a corner.

Once settled onto the correct tyre, the whole thing can be adjusted via the throttle and feels very surefooted.

The Jaguar XF is a curious creature and the big cat is a bit of an oddity in some respects. It is fitted with 20×9.5 inch wheels(the biggest set of the 3) and the lowest profile tyres here. Yet it’s ability to absorb corrugations, bumps, square edges and rough parts is the best of the lot. In comparison, the other 2 feel almost “jiggly” and overdamped.

It has the quickest steering rack of the three, yet the lightest wheel and least amount of feel through the tiller.

The slight weight transfer felt on corner-entry in the BMW is conspicuously absent from the Jaguar. It just flows without hesitation.

The Jaguar is a, no-apologies-made, power-oversteerer. It grips hard at the front and has ample power and torque to overcome the rears. This makes it lots of fun for a spirited drive, but one has to wonder whether the typical buyer in this market will appreciate this aspect of the car.

Interiors and Accomodation

All three of these cars are opulent inside and make the owner feel a cut above average. Seating positions are great across the board, and all offer electric adjustment, the Jag offering the most variance in control.

You sit lower in the BMW and hang onto a chunky steering wheel. The dash is a neat, flat and upright executive-style arrangement. The main instruments are big, clear and easy to read, with red back-lighting. Minor functions are taken care of by the onboard computer and dashtop screen. The material of the seats and inserts of the 535i are the least convincing of the 3 assembled vehicles, with a vaguely prickly feel.

The Jaguar interior is less busy than the other two. The leather of the seats is soft in the way that only a luxo British car can be. Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends for the XF. The Luxury variant on test here is actually the base model. As such, there is less in the way of features and special touches than in either of the German cars.

As far as making the driver feel special, the Audi is the winner in the interior department. From it’s rich, tactile dash materials, satiny leather seats and steering wheel to it’s superbly polished aluminium inserts and it’s multi-layered dash lighting, everything inside the Audi just feels that little bit more special. It’s a wonderful place to be.

Splitting the BMW and Audi on interior space is almost futile, so closely matched are they. Both will seat 5 in relative comfort with the BMW offering slightly more shoulder and knee room for rear seat occupants. The A6 offers more front legroom, while the BMW has superior boot space.

The XF isn’t even in the game, with only enough room for 4. Those in the front of the Jaguar get less headroom than the other two cars offer and the back is decidedly cramped, even with only 4 people aboard.

Noise, Vibration and Harshness(NVH)

The Audi’s comforting ride and wonderful interior are at odds with the amount of noise that comes into it’s cabin from the outside world. The sound insulation just doesn’t seem on par with the other two, with obvious wind rustle around the exterior mirrors and road noise from the tyres.

At idle and lower revs, such as when cruising down the highway, the Audi suffers from the most engine noise intrusion as well.

The Audi engine also seems the harshest in terms of vibration. There is a constant underlying “buzz” through the seat and wheel from the V6.

The Audi isn’t terrible in isolation, far from it, but after being in the Jaguar, it seems unreasonably loud.

Sure, the Jaguar V8 will make a delicious growl from it’s V8 when it’s being induced to do so, but at all other times, the XF is quiet to a suppulant level. It is virtually silent in terms of tyre, wind and engine noise. At lower revs, the 5.0L is incredibly smooth and transfers no vibration into the cabin whatsoever.

The 535i sits somewhere between the other 2, both aurally and in terms of engine interference. It is quieter than the Audi, but louder than the Jaguar.

Fuel Economy

During our testing of these 3 cars, the Jaguar astounded us with it’s terrible fuel economy. The torquey V8 coupled to a transmission with one less cog than than the Audi and two less than the BMW hauling a 1780kg body proved thirsty indeed. With some admittedly hard driving, we averaged 18.6L/100km in the big cat. Which is roughly 13MPG.

Meanwhile, the Audi 3.0L used 12.9L/100km(18MPG) and the BMW sucked down 14.3L/100km(16.5MPG).

It isn’t all good news for the Audi on the fuel consumption front though, with the A6 requiring 98 octane fuel, while the other two only require 91. Which makes a significant difference at the pumps.


There can only be one winner here and that winner wears a BMW badge. The 535i doesn’t excel in any one particular area against these rivals. But it is the most complete package here.

The 535i offers space for 5, which the Jaguar can’t do. It offers straight line performance that the A6 can’t. It cannot match the Audi’s interior touches, but defeats it for noise intrusion. It uses way less fuel than the Jaguar, but does it without the need for the Audi’s Premium fuel.

It’s a solid, well composed, able-handling executive saloon that manages to hit most of the highs for the class without descending to too many lows.

Michael Adams from Test Driven Australia
Article Originally Written for Infinite-Garage