2019 Audi A3 Sedan vs. 2019 Mercedes C-Class Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi A3 Sedan 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 Mercedes C-Class Sedan has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

The A3 Sedan has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The C-Class Sedan 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 A3 Sedan and the C-Class Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, 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, rear parking sensors 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 A3 Sedan is safer than the Mercedes C-Class Sedan:

 

A3 Sedan

C-Class Sedan

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.5 inches

.6 inches

Neck Injury Risk

34%

60%

Neck Compression

139 lbs.

219 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 A3 Sedan is safer than the Mercedes C-Class Sedan:

 

A3 Sedan

C-Class Sedan

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

308 lbs.

452 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

277

459

Spine Acceleration

56 G’s

67 G’s

Hip Force

777 lbs.

949 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

12 inches

Hip Force

666 lbs.

769 lbs.

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, its standard front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the A3 Sedan the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The C-Class Sedan was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.

Warranty

The A3 Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the C-Class Sedan’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

The Audi A3 Sedan’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the C-Class Sedan’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 6 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 15th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 10 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A3 Sedan 40 TSFI FWD gets better fuel mileage than the C 300 Sedan RWD (26 city/35 hwy vs. 23 city/34 hwy).

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Audi A3 Sedan uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended on A3 Sedan 45 TSFI for maximum performance). The C-Class Sedan requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Audi A3 Sedan higher (7 out of 10) than the Mercedes C-Class Sedan (5). This means the A3 Sedan produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the C-Class Sedan every 15,000 miles.

The EPA certifies the Audi A3 Sedan as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV). The Mercedes C-Class Sedan is only certified to “Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (ULEV) standards.

Transmission

The A3 Sedan 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 C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

The A3 Sedan stops shorter than the C-Class Sedan:

 

A3 Sedan

C-Class Sedan

 

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

160 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the C-Class Sedan (235/35R19 vs. 225/40R19).

The A3 Sedan’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the C-Class Sedan’s standard 50 series tires. The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the C-Class Sedan’s optional 40 series front tires.

The A3 Sedan has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the C-Class Sedan; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed. Some models of the C-Class Sedan don’t even offer run-flats.

Suspension and Handling

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro handles at .92 G’s, while the C 300 Sedan 4MATIC pulls only .87 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the C 300 Sedan 4MATIC (25.6 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 26.3 seconds @ .7 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the A3 Sedan’s turning circle is .7 feet tighter than the C-Class Sedan’s (36.1 feet vs. 36.8 feet). The A3 Sedan’s turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the AMG C 43 Sedan’s (36.1 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

Chassis

The Audi A3 Sedan may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 to 400 pounds less than the Mercedes C-Class Sedan.

The A3 Sedan is 9 inches shorter than the C-Class Sedan, making the A3 Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the A3 Sedan easier. The A3 Sedan’s trunk lift-over height is 26.3 inches, while the C-Class Sedan’s liftover is 28 inches.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Mercedes. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 3% lower rating, Mercedes is ranked 6th.

Ergonomics

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the A3 Sedan to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The A3 Sedan’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the C-Class Sedan’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The A3 Sedan offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer headlight washers.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A3 Sedan is less expensive to operate than the C-Class Sedan because typical repairs cost much less on the A3 Sedan than the C-Class Sedan, including $111 less for a water pump, $329 less for a muffler, $1 less for front brake pads and $474 less for a fuel pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Audi A3 Sedan, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the A3 Sedan first among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The C-Class Sedan isn’t in the top three in its category.

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

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