2020 BMW 7 Series vs. 2019 Audi A8

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 7 Series has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The A8 doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The 7 Series has standard Active Park Distance Control that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The A8 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The 7 Series’ driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The A8 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the 7 Series and the A8 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive and night vision systems.

Warranty

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 7 Series for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Audi only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the A8.

There are over 13 percent more BMW dealers than there are Audi dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the 7 Series’ warranty.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the 7 Series has a standard 950-amp battery (660 750i). The A8’s 380-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the 7 Series’ reliability 20 points higher than the A8.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 7 Series second among large premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The A8 isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 8th.

Engine

The 745e’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. hybrid produces 54 more horsepower (389 vs. 335) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (443 vs. 369) than the A8’s 3.0 turbo V6 hybrid. The 750i’s standard 4.4 turbo V8 produces 188 more horsepower (523 vs. 335) and 184 lbs.-ft. more torque (553 vs. 369) than the A8’s 3.0 turbo V6 hybrid. The M760i’s standard 6.6 turbo V12 produces 265 more horsepower (600 vs. 335) and 258 lbs.-ft. more torque (627 vs. 369) than the A8’s 3.0 turbo V6 hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 745e running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the A8 (52 city/61 hwy MPGe vs. 19 city/27 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the 7 Series gets better fuel mileage than the A8:

MPG

7 Series

RWD

740i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

22 city/29 hwy

AWD

740i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

20 city/28 hwy

A8

AWD

3.0 turbo V6

19 city/27 hwy

The 745e can drive on battery power alone for up to 16 miles. The A8 must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Transmission

The 7 Series’ 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 A8 doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 750i’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the A8:

750i

A8

Front Rotors

15.5 inches

14.8 inches

Rear Rotors

14.5 inches

13.8 inches

Tires and Wheels

The 7 Series’ optional 275/35R20 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the A8’s optional 40 series tires.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 7 Series can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The A8 doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 7 Series offers active sway bars, which help keep it flat and controlled during cornering, but disconnect at lower speeds to smooth the ride and offer greater off-road suspension articulation. This helps keep the tires glued to the road on-road and off. The A8 doesn’t offer an active sway bar system.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 7 Series’ wheelbase is 3.3 inches longer than on the A8 (126.4 inches vs. 123.1 inches).

The Alpina B7 handles at .97 G’s, while the A8 55 TSFI pulls only .93 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The BMW 7 Series may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs up to about 500 pounds less than the Audi A8.

The front grille of the 7 Series uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The A8 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The 7 Series has 1.6 inches more front headroom, .1 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom, .1 inches more rear legroom and .1 inches more rear shoulder room than the A8.

Cargo Capacity

The 7 Series has a much larger trunk than the A8 (14 vs. 12.5 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

The 7 Series offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The A8 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The 7 Series has a standard heated steering wheel to take the chill out of steering on extremely cold winter days before the car heater warms up. A heated steering wheel costs extra on the A8.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the BMW 7 Series has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. Wireless charging costs extra on the A8.

The 7 Series’ Parking Assistant Plus can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. Optional Remote Control Parking will park and retrieve your car remotely: press a button and watch it park itself. This is ideal for tight locations. The A8 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The 7 Series is available in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The A8 doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the BMW 7 Series and the Audi A8, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The BMW 7 Series outsold the Audi A8/S8 by over five to one during 2018.

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

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