G24 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe vs. Audi A5 / S5 Sportback

The new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is here, finally. Fans of the 4er GC have been waiting, extremely impatiently, ever since the G20 3 Series debuted to see this very car. The first-gen car (dubbed F36) has an extremely loyal customer base, made up of owners that only want to replace their existing car with a new version and nothing else. However, they’re not the only customers in this segment, as the Audi A5 Sportback has actually been doing it for longer.

Now that the new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is here, it makes some sense to compare it to the car that really kick-started this segment. The first-gen “B8” Audi A5 Sportback is no longer on sale but this newer, second-gen “B9” A5 Sportback is and, despite being a few years old now, is still a great looking car. So which one looks best?

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This is actually a bit trickier of a comparison than I thought it would be. Personally, I love the way the Audi A5 Sportback looks. It’s so-so to drive but it has so much presence on the road and looks so much more special than the average four-cylinder, lease-special cars in its segment. So I thought it was going to walk away with this one but the 4 Series Gran Coupe surprised me a bit.

Up front, I still have to give it to the Audi. While I’m becoming less and less offended by BMW’s massive kidney grille design, I still don’t like it. It’s still too big, still looks out of place, and just lacks any sort of cohesion with the rest of the front end. The Audi A5’s grille, however, is far more cohesive and seems to fit its front end better. And while it’s just as big as the Bimmer’s, its shape and implementation are better.

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In profile, though, it’s a close call. Both are great looking cars from the side, for different reasons. The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is a bit smoother and a bit more muscular but it’s also a bit bulkier. The Audi A5 Sportback, on the other hand, sports a much sharper shoulder line, a longer and lower design, and more flowing curves. Though, it is starting to show its age. Both look great, though, and I’d be happy owning either, so it’s a draw.

Out back, it’s a bit of a tough call, yet again. Both cars actually look quite good from the back. You can see their muscular rear haunches, they both have sporty taillights, and tall deck lids. The Audi’s slick dancing taillights are cooler looking but its exhausts are fake, which hurts its stock. The 4 Series’ exhausts are a bit boring looking but at least they’re real. So I’m gonna call this one as another draw. Both have their pros and cons and I like both a lot, so I’m gonna ride the fence, here.

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Now for the cabins. Audi has been killing interior design for decades and it’s no different here. The cabin of the A5 Sportback is better looking, sports better ergonomics, and has a steering wheel that doesn’t feel like a python. BMW’s 4 Series interior isn’t bad, at all, it’s just not very special feeling, while the A5 Sportback looks and feels a bit more interesting. Tech-wise, both cars are in a bit of a deadlock, as the 4 Series has a better infotainment system, while the A5 Sportback has better digital gauges. Overall, though, I’d rather sit in the Audi for longer than in the BMW.

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If you tally up the wins, it’s a tie. I really like the look of both cars and choosing one would really have to come down to the way they drive. Since we can’t drive the 4 Series Gran Coupe yet, I can’t make that determination. Until then, it’s a draw.

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