Audi S6 Avant TDI and BMW 540d Touring tested
The latest sporty diesel station wagons?
Dinosaurs and Diesel Engines: Yes, you can read such silly comparisons on the online boulevard. Indeed, combustion engine species will likely become extinct – not fatally by asteroids, but voluntarily by a ban. Especially in the high season, when diesels run more efficiently, cleaner and more powerful than ever. For example in the Audi S6 Avant. And in the 540d Touring, which BMW only offers as an xDrive all-wheel drive version.
Dear legislator: You can glide with this 340hp luxury class car with an average of 5.7 (Audi) or even 5.2 (BMW) liters per 100km. After all, low CO2 emissions are exactly what you are looking for, of course, seen sustainably throughout the entire life cycle, including manufacturing and recycling, right? And why, when it comes to sustainability, does a diesel come to mind? Because as a used vehicle it should be able to enjoy its umpteenth life in some markets outside of Germany. Spare starter batteries are available there, probably 48-volt versions for the e-boost as well. Can the same be said for electric car batteries?
Incidentally, the highly efficient machines tested here can cover more than 1,200 kilometers before being able to return to that point about six minutes later with a full tank of fuel, without emitting significant nitrogen oxides and particles thanks to the complex after-treatment of the gases. I unload. We self-activists are very impressed with this.
However, we’re easily impressed when technical expertise is paired with an automotive lifestyle. For example, there’s the interior, which is only slightly behind the opulence of the luxury class – and which smells like coming home every time the door is opened. In which you simply feel in good hands, surrounded by an aura of comfort. Here, Audi and BMW differ only in the typical design of the brand.
There is little to criticize
Compared to what billion-dollar startups in the new world have set as the benchmark for quality, the S6 and 540d are in the higher echelons.
As there is little to criticize about this pleasure glider as a whole, let’s break down the details here. It awards the five extra points for variability and functionality. Justify it with the multi-adjustable tilt angle of the rear seat backrest. The rear window can be opened separately. And with the option to stow the load compartment cover in the compartment under the boot floor.
Coupled with a higher payload and better view to the rear, this adds up to a solid advantage in the body section. Especially since Audi itself uses the touch fields for basic functions such as turning on the lights, accessing the air conditioning or selecting the driving mode.
The zeitgeisty, continuous distraction-intensive tapping when using the S6 infotainment system: the five show how you can do it better, fits into the comfort chapter under “Multimedia” with the best iDrive system expansion stage including rotary button , outsourced menu buttons and convincingly “comprehensive” voice control.
Sure, these are considerations that decide a comparison test, but they probably don’t influence a purchase. Premium cars appeal to emotions: the heart argues the mind. And previously it would also have rejected a diesel engine as below the dignity of a dynamic model. BMW proves that a diesel engine can fascinate.
BMW 540d Touring: a dream engine
We haven’t already celebrated the six in Munich running smoothly! And this three-liter deserves a big party. With the e-boost, it gets to work in no time; no need to wake the compressor blades, no need to catch a breath before pushing: 700 Nm guides you first in the stomach, then in the limbs – randomly shaken by the crankshaft at low revs, accompanied by the ground acoustics, managed smoothly by the Steptronic gearbox (250 euros). And the speedometer needle clicks to one hundred in less than five seconds.
The first spokes that require a significant steering angle are already approaching. You evaluate the transition, probing its possibilities – in blissful anticipation of centrifugal forces, the dopamine of driving enthusiasts, especially since a BMW traditionally interprets cornering as an opportunity to demonstrate its talent.
You give in happily and realize that lateral dynamic exuberance would be out of place. Because the front axle of the all-wheel drive five wants to get a taste of it carefully. Only after the summit can he – applaud! – Torque-based hot mud pack heats the asphalt. Vigorous acceleration is preceded by hesitant understeer.
Even the adaptive shock absorbers (1200 euros) lack panache. They understand their job in socializing with bumps, keeping inexorable contact with the asphalt. There are only partial resources left to deal with the small but frequent bumps that lead the way. The frame tramples her nonchalantly, she walks away with a shrug.
At this point you would like less feedback, but more in the steering. And please, more grip on the front axle. All in all, plus five. Incidentally, the metering device has little to complain about when it comes to cornering. What we criticize is more in the emotional world, but that’s exactly what we want to trigger.
All that remains is the certainty that the xDrive will move smoothly on snowy roads or wet meadows. Small consolation for driving dynamics.
Audi S6 Avant TDI: energetic and comfortable handling
The S6 also drives all four wheels. Audi, Quattro – logical. But that in no way paralyzes its urge to take corners: although it is 71 kilograms heavier than the Touring, the Avant turns corners more carefully, steers more directly, aligns its rear vigorously and is – whoosh! – ready for the next straight.
The sport differential (1500 euros) and the integral steering (1900 euros) choreograph the dance of the curves. But the five also carries the latter, as an option for 1250 euros.
The S-Audi still has 20 tires instead of 18 inches as an advantage in terms of driving dynamics, but not, as one might expect, a sporty chassis. On the contrary: its air suspension for 870 euros caresses its passengers at the comfort level with gallantry, it carefully takes care of the bumps that BMW trivializes. However, the S6 is livelier, flapping just behind the gates, staying close to the beam. And with himself.
Unfortunately, the V6 takes creepy care of itself – it only hesitantly releases its full torque, no matter how actively the shift downshifts, it gets lost in jerks sometimes. When studying buzzwords such as belt-driven starter generator, e-booster and electric compressor, the components of a quick start were first thought of. But then the quark in the oil pan seems to slow down the three-liter’s vigor. And with it the whole mission of the Avant. Why a sporty model – S! – it must take off immediately when you step on it. Not just after.
The engine makes the difference
The engine costs the Audi many points, from driving to the environment and up to the cost chapter, here in the form of higher fuel bills. After all, would the diesel reserves related to a sports model come true?
Obviously not. Because BMW shows how euphoric a diesel can ignite. The three-liter Munich is a dream engine that gains a lot of fame and as a result deserves a winning chassis. One that combines an eager twist with competent comfort. Aren’t we actually describing the five? Yes – but as pure rear-wheel drive.
Oh, don’t you need all-wheel drive anyway? Marvelous. In these circumstances, we recommend the test winner with a discount, so to speak: get the 530d, without xDrive, with the same you are in line in a slightly weaker configuration. This not only saves the work of propelling the front wheels, but your whopping 6950 euros account.
Yes, you can see that diesel engines still have potential.
No, the diesel problem is slowly being exhausted.
Intuitive operation and a powerful, economical engine pave the way for victory. When it comes to handling, however, the xDrive falls well short of expectations.
Its energetic and comfortable handling earns it praise. But the operation of the touchscreen provides distraction from traffic, the initial sweet spot of resentment.
|Audi S6 Avant TDI Quattro||BMW 540d Touring xDrive|
|base price||€ 83,700||€ 71,850|
|external dimensions||4954 x 1886 x 1445 mm||4963 x 1868 x 1498 mm|
|trunk volume||530 to 1665L||from 560 to 1700 lt|
|displacement / engine||2967 cm³ / 6-Zylinder||2993 cm³ / 6-Zylinder|
|performance||253 kW / 344 hp at 3850 rpm||250 kW / 340 hp at 4400 rpm|
|full speed||250 km / h||250 km / h|
|0-100 km / h||5.1 sec||4.7 sec|
|consumption||6.4 l / 100 km||5.3 l / 100 km|
|test consumption||7.9 l / 100 km||7.3 l / 100 km|
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