Brand Battle, Audi vs. BMW: Which One is Better and Why?

Brand Battle, Audi vs. BMW: Which One is Better and Why?

Few names bring to mind the idea of "German luxury car" quite like Audi or BMW. Of course, there's also Mercedes-Benz, with its big, powerful engines and statement pieces. When you're looking for some affordable, upscale class, however, the former auto brands are where it's at.

BMW is all about the driving experience or creating – to use their lingo – the "ultimate" one. That comes across in their car designs, where engine performance and road handling unarguably rank first. Audi's slogan is "Advancement Through Technology," which you can easily see in the manner they interface the latest infotainment upgrades with superb interior design.

But which one of these two brands is superior, and why? We'll cover the basics right here, in this Audi-versus-BMW rundown.

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Audi vs. BMW: exterior design

For their exteriors, both Audi and BMW use high-quality materials. Both brands are concerned with making their vehicles easily recognizable as luxury cars. However, there are critical differences between the two.

For BMW, expect bolder designs, with a distinctive kidney grille that is standard in all models. BMW vehicles are also heavier looking in their appearance than the Audi. 

With Audi, you have a car company that consistently emphasizes the interior over the exterior. Audi models are also very similar in their exterior design, with an elegant shape and subdued curves.

As for which auto brand comes out on top in this category? It’s a tie. Whichever aesthetics you prefer will be based solely on personal preference.

Interior features, tech, and seating options

Audi loves their interior styling. Specific features vary from model to model, but overall, expect to see a sleek design for the dashboard that contains a wide variety of features. There is an extensive collection of metal trims, wood trims, and soft-touch plastics. Leather seat upgrades are an option when picking out your car from the lot. 

With BMW, specific features and interior styling also vary from model to model. As mentioned, BMW prioritizes the driving experience and road handling above all else. So while the materials used in their cars' construction are comparable to Audi's, their interiors are a touch less luxurious. 

For tech and infotainment, both of these car brands are standouts. In general, expect to see Audi fully integrating its tech features into the cabin's interior design. One of its most up-to-date features is what Audi calls its "Virtual Cockpit," a 12.3-inch screen that sits behind the steering wheel to display everything from caller ID to how fast you're driving. Newer models also have Audi's in-house MMI infotainment system.

BMW meets Audi beat-for-beat in the tech department. Instead of the Virtual Cockpit, this company has the iDrive system, along with what's known as the Digital Display Key: a touchscreen on your key fob that controls your vehicle remotely. 

When it comes to interiors and tech, these two companies are essentially in a dead heat. Audi barely edges BMW out in the cabin comfort options.

Audi or BMW: which has more efficient engines and fuel economy?

Engine performance and fuel economy are important aspects of any vehicle, especially for BMW and Audi drivers. After all, the less you have to fill up your gas tank, the more money you’ll save in the long run and the more valuable that gas mileage will be if you decide to resell. 

As mentioned, BMW tends to focus its efforts on the engine and overall driving experience. They use high-performance designs, including a unique inline six-cylinder engine in the BMW X5 Series. In other models, they use four-cylinder engines as one of their alternative options. All models are turbocharged, which allows an engine to increase its power without decreasing fuel efficiency.

Although Audi is not necessarily known for its engines, it isn’t without its own options; after all, the brand has a background in motorsports. Its Quattro all-wheel-drive system, standard on most Audi models, makes its handling in acclimate weather conditions particularly noteworthy. It also uses turbocharged engines for many of its car models, although not exclusively.

For fuel economy, these brands are usually neck-in-neck. Their car models often have standard performance stats for their size and weight class, with decent mpg in cities and highways. Both Audi and BMW are trying to make inroads into the hybrid and electric markets. BMW was one of the first movers and shakers for that scene by introducing the BMW i3

Audi has also made strides, with their e-Tron models giving you a comfortable, eco-friendly ride.

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Audi vs. BMW reliability, safety, and handling

Safety is a core component in any vehicle that you buy, luxury or not. So is reliability and handling. 

Safety features mean less chance for a crash, potentially lowering insurance costs; easy handling on the road can complement this. Reliability ensures that a car is less likely to break down, reducing on-road risk and potential repair costs. So in these two areas, which is better, Audi or BMW?

It should come as no surprise that both of these luxury automakers prioritize safety to keep their clientele happy. Both have many features for their numerous car models, with most Audi cars sporting the Pre Sense Suite, while BMW models use the BMW Active Guard.

Both brands commonly offer blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warnings. Other features include cruise control, parking assist, and hill-start assist. The emphasis on safety has won these automakers numerous awards, too, with Audi scoring the Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on the A6 model in 2021. BMW has won the Top Safety Pick for their 2020 BMW X3 Series.

BMW often edges out Audi in handling, with their cars designed to offer the “ultimate driving experience.” Audi cars are slightly less agile than BMW because their overall stiffer suspension systems maximize a smooth, comfortable ride. For reliability, BMW consistently ranks higher. 

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Audi vs. BMW: top car models

We’ve covered these German automakers in-depth, from their engines to their interior seating. But how do they stack up in terms of price? What are some of the top models you can buy?

Both of these luxury car brands will be expensive if you buy a new vehicle right off the lot. You’re paying a premium price for a premium car. However, if you shop online, you can still find major deals on earlier models. Shift is a pro at facilitating this. 

With Shift, you’re offered fair, no-haggle prices driven by powerful machine learning algorithms and tons of data. That means whichever vehicle you buy, you’ll have the stats behind you to ensure that you’re buying the best. 

Some of the Audi models currently available include the Audi A3, Audi A4, and A5 sedan lines, all of which are perfect for the busy commuter. The BMW X3 and BMW X5 Series are excellent choices for the competitor. They have ample trunk space, comfortable seating, and five-star ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In short, when it comes to BMW's line of crossover SUVs, just think of the Toyota RAV4 with its compact SUV body and upscale it in terms of luxury features and sporty handling.

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BMW, Audi, or another luxury brand: premium cars equal a premium experience

So which brand is better: Audi or BMW? Essentially, both.

Each automaker has its strengths, such as BMW with its road handling and Audi with its interiors. But their advantages ultimately average out in other areas. Overall, the superior car brand will be the one that makes models that are most suited to your purpose.

If you want luxury comfort, aim for Audi. If you want an exciting driving experience, BMW is the perfect option. For more information on these luxury brands, read up on how much is an Audi A4.

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Author
Shift Editorial Team