2019 Audi A8 vs. 2018 Mercedes CLS

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The A8 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 CLS 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.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the A8. But it costs extra on the CLS.

A passive infrared night vision system optional on the A8 helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard. The CLS doesn’t offer a night vision system.

To help make backing safer, the A8’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The CLS doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the A8 and the CLS have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, 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 and around view monitors.

Warranty

The A8’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the CLS’ (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

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 A8 V6T gets better fuel mileage than the CLS 550 4MATIC (19 city/27 hwy vs. 17 city/25 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the A8’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The CLS doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Audi A8 uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The CLS requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the A8’s standard brake rotors are larger than those on the CLS:

 

A8

CLS

Front Rotors

14.8 inches

14.2 inches

Rear Rotors

13.8 inches

12.6 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A8 has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the CLS. The A8’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels optional on the CLS.

Suspension and Handling

The A8 offers an available adjustable active suspension system, which counteracts cornering forces actively, limiting body roll and improving handling and stability. Mercedes doesn’t offer an active suspension on the CLS.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the A8’s wheelbase is 9.9 inches longer than on the CLS (123.1 inches vs. 113.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the A8 is 1.3 inches wider in the front and .6 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the CLS.

Chassis

The design of the Audi A8 amounts to more than styling. The A8 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .28 Cd. That is lower than the CLS (.3) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the A8 get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The A8 has standard seating for 5 passengers; the CLS can only carry 4.

The A8 has 1.4 inches more front headroom, 2 inches more front shoulder room, 2.4 inches more rear headroom, 9.3 inches more rear legroom and 1.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the CLS.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the A8’s available rear seats recline. The CLS’ rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just kicking your foot under the back bumper can open the A8’s trunk, leaving your hands completely free. The CLS doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

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

The A8 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The CLS doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The A8 has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The CLS doesn’t offer headlight washers.

Optional air conditioned front and rear seats keep the A8’s passengers comfortable and take the sting out of hot leather in summer. The CLS doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats in the rear.

Recommendations

The Audi A8/S8 outsold the Mercedes CLS by 32% during the 2018 model year.

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

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