You have £40,000 to spend on a stylish large coupe. Which is best – Audi or Mercedes?
If you’re in the market for an upmarket coupe, you’re in luck. All-new models from two German premium brands are now on sale in showrooms, perfect for effortlessly taking two people and their luggage, or two couples, on lavish drives that will have you dream of crossing continents.
But those in the market for powerful coupes are no fools. They still want decent fuel efficiency to ensure their car doesn’t blow all their hard-earned cash. That’s why we’re testing two fuel-efficient large diesel coupes here, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe and Audi A5 Coupe. The Audi has a V6 diesel compared to the Merc’s four-cylinder, but both deliver identical economy claimed at over 61mpg combined. Which is best?
Audi A5 Coupé 3.0 TDI 218 quattro Sport
Engine: 3.0-litre V6, diesel
Top speed: 155mph
CO2 emissions: 119g/km
The E-Class certainly cuts a dash, with S-Class-inspired styling and interior. But the Audi’s 3.0-litre diesel engine’s better manners soon shine through. It’s smooth, effortless and very quiet – yet very fast with it. The E-Class is more than a second slower to 60mph and the noise it makes is gruffer. The Audi’s gearbox is more intuitive when you’re pressing on, although the E-Class is super-smooth in more relaxed driving.
The two appeal in different ways dynamically. The Audi is all about agility, with less body roll and accurate steering. Its four-wheel drive quattro system is tenacious and gives it great all-weather ability. The E-Class is less enthusiastic and its remote-feeling steering lacks driver confidence.
Its ride quality is wonderful, though. The only shudders you feel are over expansion joints and the odd pothole; otherwise, it’s very effective and smooth. The Audi is firmer and ripplier, although greater body control makes it more comfortable over undulating roads.
Audi’s excellent build quality shows through inside. The A4-derived interior is slick, solid and sophisticated – but it’s not as exciting-looking as the E-Class. The Merc may not be quite as solid, but it has much more spectacle and really does feel more like an S-Class. Choose the optional Comand infotainment system and you’ll forgive a slight lack of intuitiveness compared to the Audi simply for how impressive it looks.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé E 220 d AMG Line
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
List price £40,135
Target Price £38,193
Power 191bhp @ 3800rpm
Torque 295lb ft @ 1600-2800rpm
Top speed 150mph
Gov’t fuel economy 61.4mpg
CO2 emissions 119g/km
The E-Class has more space in the rear as well; in contrast, the A5 Coupe feels a little cramped. Surprisingly, though, it has the larger and better-shaped boot; the E-Class narrows towards the rear seats, which means the space advantage of standard folding seats isn’t as significant as it is in the Audi.
For fleet drivers, costs are roughly even. The E-Class is cheaper if you pay cash, but the A5 Coupe is far cheaper if you go for a PCP – £365 a month, compared to £499 for the Mercedes. Equipment levels are more closely matched and we’d expect the E-Class to soon get a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating to match the Audi’s.
Overall, these are both cars that make a strong case for themselves. The E-Class is the luxury choice, but the extra satisfaction of the Audi, its greater all-weather ability and the fact its V6 engine comes with no fuel economy penalty, gives it the win here. That costs so much less on a PCP deal simply confirms it.