Back about a year ago, I test drove the new A6 and A7 when they first came out when I was in the market for a new car. I remember really enjoying them, but because of limited availability (due to the new release) I wasn't able to find one in my price range. I ended up with the F10 and I've been thrilled with it ever since.
Fast forward exactly 1 year to yesterday. A good friend on mine works at Audi HQ here in VA. She brought home a new A6 for the weekend and offered to let me drive it for a while since she knows I'm a car fanatic. I was excited for a couple reasons, but most because my perspective was different now having owned the F10 for 12 months. So here are my thoughts. Curious to hear if any of you share the same feelings or disagree.
I'll skip "exterior styling" since I think both brands have beautiful looking cars. But I will mention some of the following...
Upon getting myself situated, the first thing I found to be absolutely striking was the instrument cluster. The speedo & tach are the right size, clear and easy to read. I've always found the speedo and tach in the F10 a little small for the size of the dash board and obstructed by the sport steering wheel on most occasions. The LCD display in the middle is gorgeous and did a great job of showing Nav data. Steering wheel controls felt small and not easy to navigate without looking down at the wheel, as did the cruise control. I kept flashing my high beams instead of canceling the cruise. I definitely like the LCD in the A6 over that of the F10... but for Nav ONLY. I felt the info screens were laid out funny, didn't provide useful info, and were hard to find in a hurry. I couldn't even find the fuel economy data.
The center stack was another story. While it looks nice, the climate controls were placed low and in an awkward spot for me to utilize them. The layout of the center controls were also done in such a way that I felt I was constantly rubbing elbows with my passenger... a situation I never feel in the F10. Adding to that, I'm not sure what the interior dimensions are, but the F10 feels much more spacious in the front cabin. Maybe it has to do with the way the controls we laid out, but I felt almost cramped. A couple other things that bugged me were the fact that I couldn't comfortably rest my arm with a small soda bottle in the cup holder. It was simply in the way. The MMI knob seemed to operate backwards... something I never got used to. I REALLY did like the touchpad, however. Entering Nav addresses with handwriting worked very well. And I will admit I felt spoiled by the large nav screen in the Bimmer. The extra display real estate is very nice. What was odd was the volume knob for the radio was next to the shifter on the passenger side. That was weird to me.
The 3.0 Supercharged engine is real smooth under driving conditions and with 5 people in the car, never had to rev high when passing on 2 lane roads. Downshifts were smart and torque was plentiful. I was a little surprised that the engine was not as silky smooth when stopped in traffic with the car in drive. There was definitely an engine vibration in the cabin that should not be present in a car of this caliber.
The A6 was not equipped with the sport package like my F10, so direct comparisons are tough, however I felt the steering, throttle, and ride to be a bit airy. The A6 certainly doesn't provide the level of road/vehicle feedback that the F10 does. It felt more like a Cadillac than a German sedan. Body roll was controlled quite well and we all know the Quattro system works amazingly well, however the feel of the ride itself didn't instill a lot of confidence that the car could do what it was really capable of doing in the corners. But in the end, it did exactly what you asked it to do.
Given the opportunity today, I'm not sure which car I would chose. I'm curious to drive an A6 with the sport package. I feel it would cancel out a lot of my little gripes about the ride. However, I'm a fan of upgraded audio systems and the B&O option in the A6 is over $6,000 alone. I've listened to it in the past and it is absolutely phenomenal. However, that's a lot of money and I feel the F10 Premium Audio is a much better value. I think in the end the experience helped me appreciate my 535 even more and helped me lose the feeling I've carried around that I may have really wanted the A6 if it were available.
Bottom line... both fantastics cars, but I like my BMW.