Car and Driver Test: BMW 540i vs Mercedes-AMG E43 vs Audi A6 3.0T vs Cadillac CTS V-Sport vs Jaguar XF S AWD

5-series, News | May 4th, 2017 by 30
2017 BMW 540i M Performance Parts8 750x500

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 …

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.

Jag XF S Image 021215 750x500

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]

30 responses to “Car and Driver Test: BMW 540i vs Mercedes-AMG E43 vs Audi A6 3.0T vs Cadillac CTS V-Sport vs Jaguar XF S AWD”

  1. jason bourne says:

    How incredibly ironic that BMW, known historically for it’s chassis dynamics, would be a total fail in this head-to-head.

    Shows how much BMW has strayed from its roots over the past decade in order to build tech-overloaded cars with little soul.

    The Ultimate Driving Machine seems to be devolving into The Ultimate Boring Machine.

    Been a BMW fan for 40+ years and this just makes me sad.

  2. Ben says:

    Quote from C&D:
    Executive editor Aaron Robinson summed it up best: “This car is a zombie; it moves without a pulse. Had more scary situations in it than others just because I was overdriving the tires and didn’t realize it.”

  3. Giom says:

    Nico, you hit the nail on the head with your opening statement. And it is here that I feel BMW is missing out the obvious solution. For the luxury oriented customer, there are the non-M models. For the BMW purist that loves his dynamics over anything else, there should have been M. Uncompromising, hi tech – low weight, light on its feet quicker than anything else cars. In stead, we have ‘quicker luxo barges’ with M badges stuck on them. (I know that’s a gross oversimplification.)

    Doing it this way, they can make their profits selling bulk to the masses, but, most of all, they’ll keep their sporty traditions alive while still being the unbeaten king of the sports sedan. At the moment, that reputation is gone… what’s left? No one knows for sure.

    • Fandango says:

      Strange. In most comparison tests in Europe (Germany and UK) the 5-series is crushing the other cars. In UK tests it is said being the more dynamic and better handling car compared to the Mercedes. So why does it get so different reviews in the US? Is the spec different (no adaptive drive, different steering?) or do American journalists simply value other aspects than their European counterparts?

      • Kaisuke971 says:

        And they seem to like the M550i (that actually competes with the XF S, E43 AMG and CTS V-Sport) http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2018-bmw-m550i-xdrive-first-drive-review

        • Fandango says:

          And price wise this article confirms that the E43 AMG is basically the same price as this car so it was not a fair apples to apples comparison I guess.

      • Giom says:

        I noticed this also. Strange, as C&D is traditionally fond of BMW products.

        • Kaisuke971 says:

          Maybe couple years ago but in the past 5 years their reviews have been amongst the most negative towards Bimmers. They place the M3 behind the C63 and the Giulia, the M5 F10 last in its segment, the M6 behind the SL, the 7 Series behind the S Class and the A8, the 3 Series behind the A4 the C Class and the Giulia.

          Interestingly enough, the M2, 4 Series and X5/X6 M which are pretty much universally praised all have a 5 Star review. Go figure.

  4. Nicholas Nachito says:

    MB owned bmw’s stupid ass..once again and as always!

  5. Arunabh says:

    So a spanking new BMW 5 series trailed behind 6 year old Audi and almost 3 year old Cadillac. Jaguar with its all season tires showed BMW, with its summer tires, who is the boss around bends ( and in tuning the steering)

    Funniest part was that even after M package addition the car is tilted towards comfort driving and when the focus is so clearly on comfort rather than driving prowess, BMW decided to gave it the thickest rimmed steering wheel among the competition. Most probably, BMW’s excuse here must be that this appliance should feel loosely related to its legendary grandfathers at all touch points.

    While it doesn’t come across as surprise that MB beat the pulp out of BMW what is a bit amusing is that MB’s customer research is asking them to make more dynamically accomplished cars and BMW’s customer research is asking them to make uber transport appliances. Because it is after market studies only, these auto makers are designing and developing their cars.

    So key takeaways that i would take out of this comparison is this –
    1. MB is going to rule for decades henceforth.
    2. Old BMW has changed its name and its new name is Cadillac.
    3. Its the jaguar ( and Porsche) that has managed to crack the code of tuning electronic tillers and BMW has tillers are only getting thicker to hold ( and thereby adding more isolation to pass any messages).
    4. BMW has firmly put its eyes on a new business opportunity. Developing uber luxurious supermarket trolleys. All these new BMW’s are simply the practice before those new products.

  6. discblid says:

    I’m reading through this and get to the E43 then find this part of the article: “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”..

    Am I reading this correctly, did the E43 get first place without anybody actually driving it?… this is some head to head

  7. Frank Morgan says:

    Pathetic bmw. What else could one expect from those hopeless losers?

    • hinu7ycfgr5e says:

      Funny how so many people have negative things to say about BMW on a site called “BMWBLOG”. :P

      I don’t have a lot of experience with BMW, but I do like my BMW i3. It has a refreshingly direct steering, no “Logitech/spring feel” like other cars where you can’t feel shit making steering a lot more disconnected and strenuous. The i3 will simply hold the steering angle with easy and give you nice feedback. Not saying it’s the best in the world, but it’s pretty good.

      From my experience, Audi’s are terrible, though. I quite liked Mercedes E-Class.

  8. Lionel Froment says:

    Isn’t irony the fact that car and driver places a car first in that test, while admitting not to have driven it… Thus, how can we give any kind of credit to those guys…?

    • Donald Jackson says:

      Your silly image says it all about you, typical empty head bmw fan. They drove each car and summarized their scores. Learn to read at first and just then make such useless comments.

      • Lionel Froment says:

        Donald, first of all, who judges who in a silly way…? Aren’t you the perfect match in that category? Second, Nowhere in this article did the writer make it clear that he was expressing is opinion and not that of Car and Drivers. When you report something someone else said, at least, do it correctly… But you are right, I made a mistake. Does it justify your reaction, so full of s., huh, sorry, wisdom?

        And to make it clear I bought the 540i. And yes I am a BMW fan, but because I drove half a dozen of it over the year, not because I’ve got an empty head.

  9. hinu7ycfgr5e says:

    I drove an A4 S Line Audi the other day and have to say… it’s one of the worst cars I’ve been in. Numb steering, terrible infotainment controls, not good to drive, unspectacular interior reminding me of a VW, bad driver’s adjustments… Not impressed.

    If that’s what you get in other Audis, I’m never even gonna consider one ever. I’ve heard that their engines are pushed a lot more, while BMW for instance give it place to breathe (over-engineering more than Audi). I don’t know about this, though, I just know that trying that Audi left me very disappointed and generated no hype whatsoever with me.

  10. Wised says:

    I just received my E 43, I am, in fact, delighted with the vehicle. Though I haven’t leaned on the accelerator given the 1000 mile break-in, the car is simply stunning in all respects. Handling is sharp, steady and accurate, it basically flies through any maneuver without drama regardless of speed. The ride is comfortable, serene and spookily quiet with the quiet comfort option. Brakes are powerful, perfectly modulated and beyond reproach in all repects. Even with 20 inch rims, the only time you sense that it has a sports rather than comfort set up is when traversing sharp road hazards like railroad crossings or jagged pavement The interior is stunningly beautiful and comfortable. I did hammer the car I test drove and power is fabulous, just consider that this v6 would shame “super cars” from a decade ago. The Command system is still complicated but much improved from the previous generation, at least everything is logical and well organized, the dual steering wheel touch pads are slick and work flawlessly. I have read complaints about slow commands but I guess they have improved them from the original build or that the dual screen version is much better than the single screen one, on my car the system is superbly slick. If Mercedes achieved anything with this model is to nail the perfect blend of luxury and sport in one car. The car was definitely not cheap, starting at 72k, once the options piled up, including stunning matte paint, it ended up just below 90K. WORTH EVERY PENNY.

    • Lionel Froment says:

      I bet it’s a fantastic car! Too bad its CO2 emitting kills it here in France… you’ll have to pay 10K Eco tax on purchase. Way to much for me!

      • Wised says:

        Ouch! That is a stiff tax indeed!

        • Lionel Froment says:

          Lets ask Mrs President Donald what He thinks about that ;-))

          You are right, it has turned into a nightmare over the year, but, I have to admit that it is an excellent way to convert people to hydrid or electric….
          I chose to pay for what might be my very last petrol only engine (540i), because I’m pretty sure taxes will be so high within 5 years thatt those car will almost disappear from our roads…

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