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Car and Driver Test: Audi A6 3.0T takes on BMW 540i, Mercedes-AMG E43, Cadillac CTS V-Sport and Jaguar XF

It’s no secret that the Audi A6 is getting old. In the current executive sedan segment, the A6 is the oldest car in the bunch, while its competitors are all brand-spanking-new. So, it’s going to be an uphill battle for it in comparison tests like this one. Car and Driver recently put the current Audi A6 3.0T up against all of its more modern competitors, such as the BMW 540i, Mercedes-AMG E43, Cadillac CTS V-Sport and the Jaguar XF S AWD. So how does it stack up to its tough competition? Pretty well, actually.

Okay, so it didn’t win the comparison test but we never really expected it to. But it did beat a couple of the cars out and two that might be surprising.

In last place came the Jaguar XF. It’s unfortunate because the Jag is actually a really desirable car. It’s gorgeous design and sporty cockpit are seductive and evoke sporty driving in the purest sense. It can even back up those looks with genuinely sporty handling. The Jag is probably one of the best driving cars in the segment and could seriously be considered the best. However, it’s let down by poor technology and interior material and build quality that just isn’t up to par with its rivals. It’s just unfortunate that the XF isn’t as premium feeling as the other cars in the test, because it looks and drives so great.

Jaguar XF Interior

After the Jag came the Bimmer. Oddly enough, the BMW 540i is the newest car in the segment, having just made its debut a couple of months ago. And its placement in this comparison isn’t because it’s a bad car, it’s just not the car we expect a BMW 5 Series to be. The 5 Series was always about balancing luxury and sporty dynamics, however this new car leans a bit more toward the former. Its cabin is simply superb, something we noticed when we drove it. It’s also whisper quiet on the inside, has bank vault solidity and is incredibly luxurious. And while it’s a very competent handler, being able to really hustle a back road and probably has the best engine in the test, it just isn’t the sport sedan C&D was hoping it would be.

The Audi A6 3.0T takes third place, here, which is better than we had expected. Its 3.0 liter supercharged V6 is still one of the better engines on the market, its chassis is unflappable and it still looks fantastic. However, its interior technology is starting to lack and its steering is quite numb. So it cant’ entirely compete with the younger cars in the group but it can still show the young bucks a thing or two. Especially the Cadillac.

Cadillac has made some really great strides in the past few years, which has allowed its CTS V-Sport to place second here. But it’s sort of the antithesis of the Audi and BMW. Cadillac has sacrificed all things in the name of dynamics, as it’s one of the more exciting cars in the test to drive. Yet, the interior is incredibly cheap for its price point and isn’t worth half what the MSRP suggests. It’s the loudest cabin in the test and C&D actually had interior trim pieces fall off during testing. Strangely, it seems like it had more interior problems than the Jag, yet placed three spots higher. Interesting.

That leaves the Mercedes-AMG E43 to take first place. Though, it’s not exactly fair, as the AMG E43 is really a competitor to the Audi S6 and BMW M550i but we can only report what was tested. The E43’s twin-turbocharged V6 makes the most power in the test, which allows it to be the fastest. It also looks great, has a really lovely cabin and is still fun to drive. There’s no denying that it combines all of the desired traits into one cohesive and well built package. However, it’s also by far the most expensive in the test and is really supposed to be competing with better cars.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.