A6 3,2 FSi vs Mercedes Benz E350
dates : 24th July 2005
30th July 2005
The Mercedes-Benz E350 is a
new model on the market, having replaced the previous
V6-engined E320. The new engine is also a V6, but itís an
all new design, moving from three to
There has been a dramatic 24 per cent jump in power with the
new engine, which now displaces 3,5 litres, instead of the
previous 3,2 capacity.
Internal refinements to the engine include variable camshaft
timing on both inlet and exhaust camshafts, the first V6 to
At R459 000, the price for this Merc is actually
The E Class is perhaps the most conservatively styled Merc
at present, lacking the nimbleness of the C Class and the
sheer presence of the larger S Class. Nevertheless itís
rich in elegant detail.
But exterior appearances are only half the story. The
interior is beautiful, and the Mercís controls are easy to
suss out. As easy to understand as those beautiful
The E Class comes with a variety of wood trim options, which
are extremely elegant.
And one system David quickly got to grips with was the
back-massage device in the driverís seat, which he
described as " verrry nice."
The Sat-Nav screen has a bright, pleasing display thatís
easy to read, which is an additional safety factor.
Mercedes is justifiably proud of its new engine, first seen
in the SLK 350 sports car.
Itís mated to a seven-speed automatic gearbox for
exceptionally smooth thrust.
The Merc is quicker off the mark and marginally faster on
top end. Surprisingly, the Mercedes is some R7 000 less
expensive than the Audi A6 3,2 FSi, which costs R466 000.
The Mercedes takes the "Comfort is King" approach.
Many motoring journalists take the view that Mercs are
un-involving, boring even. But this outlook ignores the
special blend of easy driving and dynamic ability thatís
part and parcel of every Mercedes. The ride is just so silky
smooth that itís deceptive in its effortlessness.
Ergonomically too, the Mercedes is thoroughly thought out as
a user-friendly car. The premium experience is translated in
every facet of this exceptional motorcar.
Spring and damping control over ripples and speed bumps is
superior to the Audi. The Merc feels less sporty, the
feedback is less immediate, but does this really matter in a
The Audi V6 has a
similarly-lauded powerplant. Displacing just 3,2 litres, it
has a very similar specific power output to the Mercedes
engine and develops just 12 kiloWatts less than the Mercís
200 kiloWatt benchmark.
This is thanks to Audiís advanced direct-injection FSi
system which introduces fuel directly into the combustion
chamber, rather than into the intake manifold.
In the real world, both engines stack up well against each
other, with the bigger Merc having a slight edge on
acceleration and top speed.
Thereís more extroversion in the A6ís body language.
Apart from rather apologetic tail lights, the Audiís
stance is more muscular, the wheels more race-orientated.
Audi interiors set the standard in todayís luxury cars.
The materials used are slightly superior to those of the
Mercedes and indeed, those of Audiís other rival in this
class, the BMW 5 Series.
The steering wheel, somewhat surprisingly, is manually,
rather than electrically adjustable. But the combination of
rich wood and aluminium trim surrounding the cockpit makes
up for any equipment short falls.
Functions for the Navigation and cabin climate-control are
operated by a central knob with satellite buttons. This is
similar to BMWís I-drive, but in fact easier to use.
Being a Quattro, the Audi A6 has more drive-train
components. And along with firmer suspension, is more rigid
than the Merc in overall feel and ride quality.
It imparts exceptional confidence to the driver, while the
occupants feel pampered by the cockpit opulence.
David had already discovered the sports setting on the
gearbox, as well as the paddle shift change for the
But thereís no cabin switch to soften up the suspension,
and quite frankly, over the bumpy roads of suburban
Saxonwold, the ride was jiggly.
The reason for this is one of corporate philosophy. Audi
sees itself as more of a sporting brand than Mercedes. At
the Ingolstadt firm, autobahn stability takes preference
Mercedes-Benz E350: Engine
Engine: V6 petrol, 3
Power: 200 kW @ 6 000
Torque: 350 Nm @ 2 400
Seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
0-100 km/h: 6,9 seconds
Top speed: 250 km/h
Fuel consumption: 11,8
litres/100 km (manufacturerís claim)
Price: R459 000
Audi A6 3,2 FSI Quattro
Engine: V6 petrol, 3
Power: 188 kW @ 6 500
Torque:330 Nm @ 3 250
0-100 km/h: 7,9 seconds
Top speed: 240 km/h
Fuel consumption: 13,0
Price: R466 000
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