Test BMW 8 vs Audi A7October 17, 2020
Prestigious pseudo-coupes are reborn luxury station wagons. The latter were ousted from the market by crossovers, so practical aesthetes were left with only large liftbacks with frameless doors and sedans pretending to be them. But for how long? After all, the industry has already spawned a lot of coupe-crossovers, and our next comparative test will be just about that. But first, let’s deal with a more elegant format.
A possible answer to this question is: BMW 6 Series GT. The younger 6 series has the same dimensions and units as these two, and the price corresponds more to the Audi price list. But there is a problem: can you even imagine what this model looks like, which is actually three years old? The successor to the 5 Series GT changed the digital index, but left a strange silhouette with a high roof and, as a result, incomprehensibility and unpopularity. After all, for exactly the same money you can buy an X5 with the same engine! Therefore, if we are talking about a coupe, then we will adhere to the canons.
Five meters of a squat body, frameless doors, four-wheel drive, 340 petrol forces. The main inputs are identical, and the prices differ for the cost of a good crossover! It is logical that with such a difference, BMW is obliged not only not to yield to Audi, but also to give something weighty from above. For example, image. In my opinion, the test BMW 8 Series looks more complicated, more expensive than the Audi A7. Spreading across the parking lot, the Gran Coupe exudes self-confident pathos: a factory sports body kit, a deep Individual color, adding “clarity” to the black gloss of moldings and wheels, aggressive toning.
For the sake of experiment, I tried to collect on the corporate website the most opposite, puritanical Gran Coupe with an eye on the restrained aesthetics of the test Audi. And then vice versa – a daring A7 in the image and likeness of overdressed BMW. It worked! Therefore, I will not rush to justify the high cost of BMW with a cooler appearance – these models have such a variety of design options that the configuration of specific cars can be confusing.
The living area inside the BMW is dominated by the massive center console parapet and the football field panels above the glove compartment. Here you sit denser and deeper in comparison with Audi. Getting in and out of the A7 is more comfortable – in the 840 GC you fall like into a sports car. The feeling of a dense, cozy cockpit in the Gran Coupe also has another downside – it seems that there is less space. It’s like two rooms of the same area, one of which was furnished laconically, and the second was densely packed with bulky furniture and small architectural forms.
There are indeed more tricky artifacts in BMW: a two-tier (and not very comfortable) climate and audio keyboard, optional “crystal” controls on the center console, clever grooves and perforations on the surfaces, highly artistic speaker lighting. At some point, it seems that it is overkill, but some of this can be turned off, and some simply not ordered. Audi takes a different approach: a minimum of keys, large screens, restrained material textures. The setting is more airy and relaxing and at the same time austere, not inciting to driver’s feats.
At the same time, the stereotype “BMW is a car for the driver” in the case of the Gran Coupe plays with new meanings. If an understandable and friendly Audi without worries can be entrusted to a “jack” at a restaurant or an absent-minded friend, then BMW not only wants to drive itself, but deliberately does not give anyone. Because it is more difficult to maneuver on it: visibility and a sense of dimensions are more difficult, bumpers are a little closer to the road, the steering wheel is heavier. It will be a shame if, out of habit, an outside driver does something wrong. By the way, the rear-view cameras that insure against mistakes are first-class in both cars, and in BMW, when you turn the steering wheel, the direction of the “gaze” also changes programmatically!
Now is the time to look at the tables of characteristics at the end of the article – notice how close all the main values are! Volumes of motors, values and ranges of maximum power and torque, weight. And how differently the engines pull in real life! Acceleration differs already in official figures: Audi promises 5.3 seconds and BMW 4.9. In fact, it feels like the gap is even greater – the bouncy B58 engine, which the Bavarians shared with the Toyota Supra (and even the Morgan Plus Six), sets the driver in a perky mood with its soundtrack alone.
Reminiscent of the famous “jayzet”, deep metallic bass is interspersed with loud whistles of the bypass valve. This sound is a sure sign of not just a powerful, but also a really evil and fast car. But this aggression is within reason – the Gran Coupe does not allow the ambition of a bully to prevail over the role of a solid car. For hooliganism and sporting feats, BMW has the M8. And Gran Coupe sounds so that being together with her at the traffic light “pole position”, you will think twice whether to get involved in fun starts.
And the decision to pretend that it is vitally important to answer in the messenger right now, and not to rush into a race, can be wise. Because the Gran Coupe accelerates fiercely, as if it has not 340 horses, but all 400. Not to say about the A7 – the Audi liftback picks up speed quickly and efficiently, but completely emotionless, as if rubbery – even in the sports program. If for Audi, acceleration is just a result, then for BMW it is also a process. And the V6 Audi sounds paler and quieter than the BMW inline-six. So much so that the noise from the A7 under the hood is only a hindrance to the serenity of passengers, but not a character trait.
Unlike the 7-speed Audi robot, the BMW automatic with 8 gears is impeccable: it does not rattle with insides while parking, does not twitch in a creeping traffic jam, and does not get confused in gears when driving dynamically in a stream. Each individually – minor nuances, but in total they slightly spoil the impression of the long-proven s tronic unit installed in the A7. This box also does not give a big advantage in efficiency: with not at all optimal driving (either extremely slow, then very fast), the onboard computers showed 11 and 11.8 liters in favor of Audi.
But it would be a mistake to think that BMW is beating Audi in driving disciplines – the A7 has its own strengths. It is more pleasant in everyday use, when you do not need to try to get pleasure from driving, but only the result is needed – to drive without stress. The controls have less resistance, so it seems that the A7 responds more readily to driver commands and is commanded almost from thought. Whereas BMW asks for a strong arm and a confident foot. Audi requires less concentration on control and provides more simple comfort – in landing, visibility, the absence of many small shiny parts in the cabin before the eyes.
But this does not mean at all that Audi cannot be high on a good track. Weightless in comparison with BMW, the steering wheel provides all the information necessary for fast driving, the suspension confidently maintains reliable contact of all wheels with the roadway and the body position parallel to the road, and the grip reserve in turns is sometimes simply amazing! But BMW with a deeper seating position, an ultra-short steering wheel (a little over 2 rpm), sports tires Bridgestone Potenza S007 versus comfortable Turanza T005 on Audi and a fierce engine, as expected, gives even more drive.
Here and the four-wheel drive “dances”, as we are used to, from the rear axle. At the same time, Audi installed on the A7 a less reckless quattro ultra transmission with front priority. And this all-wheel drive is more in line with the intelligent and delicate A7. It performs all the same functions as the “BEMVESH” xDrive, with the exception of one – hooliganism. And it was all the more surprising to find in the active driver-oriented BMW one not at all Petrolhead driving ability.
Rain, dusk, road construction. The strip winds between the rows of temporary orange columns from bend to bend. I follow the truck and out of boredom try an active cruise with steering. And with amazement I observe how the BMW “autopilot” drives the car almost flawlessly in conditions worse than which it is difficult to imagine! Gran Coupe unmistakably accelerates and decelerates in wet fog – with such reliability of the system it is just right to make a platform for resting not only the left, but also the right foot! The A7, however, missed the mark even in simpler situations.
But Audi engineers have done a great job in adjusting the comfort of the air suspension. At one time, the breakthrough was Q7, which the press unanimously took as the standard. Since then, many cars on the MLB Evo platform have stood out for their smooth ride. The A7 is also in this honorable club – on a decent surface, the suspension works as if the liftback rolls on a silk sheet – little things don’t reach the body at all! The A7 meets large irregularities with a slight sigh of the chassis, as if emphasizing how much the suspension takes on itself and how little it passes on to the body. This Audi is a comfortable car without reservations.
With BMW, everything is a little more complicated: it also doesn’t care about everything, it is very energy-intensive and will never miss a strong blow on the body. But the car doesn’t strive so obsessively to filter small things, there is no flying carpet feeling, and on some of the Audi-friendly surfaces in BMW it shakes. The difference is especially great at the joints on overpasses – Audi seems to fly over them, and BMW takes the blow. Although it absorbs it resiliently, like a boxer who has put a confident block. But this does not mean that BMW clearly has the worst ride quality – it’s just a different way of contact with the road. After all, the coverage profile is also useful information for an active driver.
In terms of the brightness of impressions, BMW is undoubtedly stronger. It is behind the wheel of the G8 that you want to sit down and drive – no matter where, if only just for the sake of the process. But one has only to count the money and look for rational arguments in its favor against the more affordable Audi – and there are few arguments for the BMW 8 Series. In our reality, it is difficult to imagine a situation where the added sportiness of the Gran Coupe could be successfully implemented. Therefore, there is only one scenario when all the capabilities of BMW will be useful at once – this is long journeys to those regions where the roads consist of bends.
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