BMW has an interesting conundrum on its hands. It has to satisfy two very different kinds of people, simultaneously, and it’s not something that is easily done. On one hand, it must satisfy the brand’s enthusiasts, the kind of people who remember the good ole days and want them to continue. On the other hand, it has to satisfy its customer base, the kind of people that actually put their money down on brand new cars by the thousand. Satisfying both is a near-impossibility, as they’re both looking for different things.What does BMW do to try and satisfy both customers? It creates the BMW 540i.

So how does BMW’s newest fence-sitter compare to its competition, trying to do the same thing? Car and Driver finds out. In the test, C&D pits the 540i up against its main rivals: The Mercedes-AMG E43, Jaguar XF S AWD, Cadillac CTS V-Sport and Audi A6 3.0T Quattro. So let’s see how they ranked.

Last place went to the Jaguar. Poor Jaguar. Limited in development funds compared to the Germans, the brand puts all of its money into the enthusiast stuff — looks and handling. It pays off in those respects, as the Jaguar XF is still gorgeous and handles fantastically. The only issue is that so do a lot of the other cars in this group and they are all built with far better quality and have far superior luxury and technology. So while the Jag is attractive and seductive, those traits wane after spending some time with it.

In fourth place is the BMW 540i. In our tests, we’ve really quite liked the 540i. Its engine is so silky smooth you’d think it ran on double cream and its power is ample, regardless of rpm. C&D states it accurately, that if you were told it was actually a V12 underneath, you’d be hard pressed to argue. Its interior is also flipping superb and its ride as composed and smooth as any car in its class. However, C&D is let down by its unexciting chassis and numb steering, so it places behind some of its more dynamic competitors.

Third place is given to the Audi A6 3.0T. This is the oldest car in the bunch by a long shot but it still has a lot to offer. It’s still handsome, the interior is still wonderfully built, despite its technology lacking a bit, and the supercharged 3.0 liter V6 engine and Quattro all-wheel drive grip provide ample performance and supreme high-speed stability. But it never seemed to excel over the other cars in any one specific way, as it was just good, if unspectacular, at everything. It’s curious, though, that it never received a knock for its completely numb steering. Having driven the A6, it’s a fantastic car and one that I like quite a bit, but its steering wheel might as well say “Logitech” on it because it doesn’t feel as if it’s connected to anything, mechanically.

This leaves the Cadillac CTS V-Sport in second place. While its interior isn’t befitting a $40,000 car, never mind an $80,000 one, and its CUE infotainment system is frustrating, to be polite, it actually handles very well and is engaging to drive. I’ve driven the CTS before as well and it’s a fine car, handles sharply and is better to drive than you’d expect a Caddy to. However, that’s not good enough to put it at number one.

So the Mercedes-AMG E43 takes the crown here and it’s hard to argue. While we haven’t driven the AMG E43, it does look very good, finally giving the new E-Class some life, has a great interior and a superb engine. The twin-turbocharged 3.0 liter V6 makes the most power in the test and that helps it be the quickest in the test. It also handles very well, has meaty steering and is exciting to drive. That, along with its good tech, comfortable ride and overall special feel, makes it the best in the test.

[Source: Car and Driver]