2019 Audi A5 Sportback vs. 2019 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi A5 Sportback have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The A5 Sportback’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The 3 Series Sports Wagon doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Audi A5 Sportback are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The A5 Sportback has standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The 3 Series Sports Wagon doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Both the A5 Sportback and the 3 Series Sports Wagon have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, all wheel drive, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Audi A5 Sportback is safer than the BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon:

 

A5

3 Series

 

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

164

232

Neck Injury Risk

26%

36%

Neck Stress

232 lbs.

345 lbs.

Neck Compression

55 lbs.

113 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Audi A5 Sportback is safer than the BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon:

 

A5

3 Series

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

172

258

Chest Movement

1.1 inches

1.1 inches

Abdominal Force

219 G’s

232 G’s

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

277

326

Spine Acceleration

56 G’s

64 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

17 inches

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and its standard front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the A5 Sportback the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 139 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 3 Series Sports Wagon has not been tested, yet.

Reliability

The Audi A5 Sportback’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the 3 Series Sports Wagon’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 1 place higher in reliability than BMW.

Engine

The A5 Sportback’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 258) than the 3 Series Sports Wagon’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A5 Sportback gets better fuel mileage than the 330i Sports Wagon (23 city/34 hwy vs. 23 city/33 hwy).

Transmission

The A5 Sportback offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The 3 Series Sports Wagon doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

The A5 Sportback’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The 3 Series Sports Wagon doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the A5 Sportback’s brake rotors are larger than those on the 3 Series Sports Wagon:

 

A5

3 Series

Front Rotors

13.3 inches

13 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

11.8 inches

The A5 Sportback stops shorter than the 3 Series Sports Wagon:

 

A5

3 Series

 

70 to 0 MPH

159 feet

165 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A5 Sportback has larger standard tires than the 3 Series Sports Wagon (245/40R18 vs. 225/50R17). The A5 Sportback’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 3 Series Sports Wagon (255/35R19 vs. 225/45R18).

The A5 Sportback’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 3 Series Sports Wagon’s standard 50 series tires. The A5 Sportback’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the 3 Series Sports Wagon’s optional 45 series front and 40 series rear tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A5 Sportback has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the 3 Series Sports Wagon. The A5 Sportback’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels optional on the 3 Series Sports Wagon.

Suspension and Handling

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the A5 Sportback is 2.2 inches wider in the front than on the 3 Series Sports Wagon.

The A5 Sportback Prestige handles at .94 G’s, while the 330i Sports Wagon pulls only .86 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The design of the Audi A5 Sportback amounts to more than styling. The A5 Sportback has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is lower than the 3 Series Sports Wagon (.32) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the A5 Sportback get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The A5 Sportback has .6 inches more front shoulder room and .1 inches more rear legroom than the 3 Series Sports Wagon.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than BMW. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 14% lower rating, BMW is ranked 8th.

Ergonomics

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the A5 Sportback has standard extendable sun visors. The 3 Series Sports Wagon doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the A5 Sportback Premium Plus/Prestige keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The 3 Series Sports Wagon doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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