Used test: Audi A5 Sportback vs BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

If you want the style of a coupe and the practicality of a five-door hatchback you'll like the Audi A5 Sportback and the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. But which one makes the better used buy?...

10 March 2019
Used test: Audi A5 Sportback vs BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

The Contenders

Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI 190 quattro Sport S tronic

List price when new £38,005

Price today  £22,400

Available from 2017-present

With the excellent A4 as a base, the stylish A5 Sportback should be a strong contender here.


 

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe 420d xDrive Sport auto

List price when new  £37,335

Price today £22,000

Available from 2014-present

The BMW is known for its sharp handling, but can it compete with the svelte Audi?



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


 

Fancy a sporty coupe, but need the extra practicality of a hatchback, complete with five doors? What you need is a fastback, as typified by the two cars featured here: the Audi A5 Sportback and the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé. Both promise a combination of style and practicality through the same means: swooping rooflines, those five doors and a large boot for luggage, pets or anything else you might have to transport. That makes them both tempting choices for those who can’t deal with having only two doors, don’t want the limitations of an old school booted saloon and wouldn’t be seen dead in an estate.

If that wasn’t appealing enough, we’re testing them here as two-year-old cars, and that means a saving of over £15,000 on the price of a new one. Both come in our test here with frugal yet potent 2.0-litre diesel engines and we’re also testing them with the all-weather traction of four-wheel drive. So, in the clash of the classy Teutons, can the handsome A5 beat the plush 4 Series? Read on to find out.


What are they like to drive?

Sensible the engines may be, but there’s certainly no shortage of poke in either car. Both are evenly matched for power, and while the A5 proved fractionally swifter in almost all of our acceleration tests, the 4 Series felt similarly strong. The difference was mainly down to our A5 having a speedy-shifting seven-speed automatic gearbox, whereas our test 4 Series had a notchy six-speed manual. Experience tells us it’s worth going for BMW’s optional eight-speed automatic, because it (slightly) improves performance and is even smoother than the A5’s auto ’box.

Audi A5 Sportback

 During cornering, the more natural weighting of the 4 Series’ steering impresses. The A5’s is a bit too light in Comfort mode while Dynamic adds a gloopy weighting, like the tyres are turning in treacle, but no more feedback. Even so, the fact that the A5’s steering is quicker helps to make it feel keener to turn in to corners and it can ultimately carry more speed through corners than the 4 Series. It just won’t put quite as big a smile on your face.

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

Under sedate driving conditions, the A5 is the more comfortable cruiser, even when fitted with optional 19in wheels, although our test car also had the excellent optional adaptive suspension. Only the worst ruts cause any discomfort. As for the 4 Series, its optional 19in wheels and run-flat tyres transmit every imperfection in the road; this can be tiring over long distances.

The A5 is also far more refined; its engine is much quieter at idle and is barely audible at 70mph. The 4 Series has a gruffer-sounding engine that never completely shuts up, even on the motorway.

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