Used test: Audi A5 Coupe vs Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

Buyers looking for a smart and upmarket coupe could do a lot worse than these two, but which one makes more sense when bought used?...

Used test: Audi A5 Coupe vs Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

The Contenders

Audi A5 Coupe  3.0 TDI 218 quattro Sport

List price when new £39,885

Price today  £22,000

Available from 2016-present

Even with a large V6 engine and four-wheel drive, the A5 matches the four-cylinder E-Class’s efficiency.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe E 220 d AMG Line

List price when new  £40,135

Price today £22,000

Available from 2016-present

With its S-Class-aping styling and spacious interior, the E-Class certainly has plenty of appeal.

Price today is based on a 2017 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

So, summer is nearly here, you’ve saved that Christmas bonus and, in an effort to take your mind off Brexit, you’re in the market for an upmarket coupé. Effortless performance, a luxurious interior and room for one passenger (or occasionally three) plus luggage are crucial requirements. But just because you’re opting for a coupé, that doesn’t mean you’re prepared to put up with poor fuel economy. Added to that, you may have had a healthy bonus but you still only have a limited amount of money to spend on a car, and therefore don’t mind buying used. Now, that might sound like a tall order, but we’ve lined up two cars that should be more than up to the task. Both are packed with state-of-the-art infotainment gadgets, offer hot hatch levels of straight-line performance and are capable of at least 60mpg. Oh, and they both cost a modest £22,000.

However, despite their on-paper similarities, there are also differences. In the über-luxurious corner is the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé. This E-Class, in four-cylinder E 220 d form, finds itself in the firing line of the smaller yet more powerful Audi A5 Coupé. With a plush interior, smooth V6 diesel engine and a confidence-inspiring four-wheel drive system, the A5 should make for tough opposition.

What are they like to drive?

With its S-Class-inspired styling and AMG body kit, the E-Class certainly seems the more glamorous of our duo. So it might come as something of a surprise to learn that the A5 offers far greater refinement at lower speeds.

Thumb the A5’s starter button and its 215bhp 3.0-litre diesel V6 stirs into life with a muted hum. Thanks to a smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic gearbox, the A5 effortlessly gains speed. Only a gentle squeeze of your right foot is required to breeze up to motorway speeds, but put your foot down hard away from a standstill and you’ll be doing 62mph in less than 6.5sec.

Audi A5 Coupe

The 191bhp E-Class is far from sluggish but can’t whisk you up to speed as quickly as the A5 can, and its four-cylinder diesel engine sounds comparatively gruff – especially when you’re pottering around town. Thankfully, things improve once you pick up speed, with the engine quietening down and its nine-speed automatic gearbox doing a stellar job of blurring gearshifts, as long as you aren’t in a hurry.

You can try to take control of gearshifts using paddles on the back of the steering wheel, but there’s little benefit in doing so in the E-Class, because the car often overrides your commands. The A5’s gearbox, on the other hand, reacts more obediently to your requests, although it isn’t perfect, sometimes dithering when you ask for a quick getaway in automatic mode.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

The A5 is the more agile car on twisty country roads, swaying about far less than the portlier E-Class. Neither demonstrates what you’d call entertaining handling, but the A5’s combination of accurate steering, tight body control and four-wheel drive traction makes it surprisingly quick point to point – whatever the weather. The E-Class, on the other hand, doesn’t appreciate being asked to change direction quickly and its more artificial-feeling steering – which gets quicker the more lock you apply – fails to fill you with confidence.

However, the E-Class claws back some points when it comes to ride comfort. On the standard Agility Control suspension set-up of our test car, it soaks up speed bumps and larger undulations very effectively, although expansion joints and potholes tend to send nasty shudders through the car. The A5 is always firmer (sports suspension is standard in Sport specification), so you feel more minor ripples as they pass beneath you, but actually it’s more controlled of the two over really beaten-up surfaces.

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