2019 Mercedes CLS vs. 2018 Audi A5 Sportback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The CLS’ 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 A5 Sportback doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

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

The Mercedes CLS weighs 430 to 551 pounds more than the Audi A5 Sportback. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

There are over 26 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are Audi dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the CLS’ warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 14th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

Engine

The CLS 450’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. hybrid produces 110 more horsepower (362 vs. 252) and 96 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 273) than the A5 Sportback’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The AMG CLS 53’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. hybrid produces 177 more horsepower (429 vs. 252) and 111 lbs.-ft. more torque (384 vs. 273) than the A5 Sportback’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the CLS 450 is faster than the Audi A5 Sportback:

 

CLS

A5

Zero to 60 MPH

4.7 sec

5.3 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

11.5 sec

14 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

5.6 sec

6.1 sec

Quarter Mile

13.2 sec

14 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

107 MPH

100 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the CLS gets better fuel mileage than the A5 Sportback:

 

 

CLS

A5

 

RWD

450/Auto

24 city/31 hwy

n/a

 

AWD

450/Auto

23 city/30 hwy

21 city/30 hwy

2.0T/Auto

Regenerative brakes improve the CLS’ fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The A5 Sportback doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The CLS has 5.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the A5 Sportback (21.1 vs. 15.3 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is available on the Mercedes CLS, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the A5 Sportback.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the CLS’ brake rotors are larger than those on the A5 Sportback:

 

CLS

A5

Front Rotors

14.2 inches

13.3 inches

Rear Rotors

14.2 inches

13 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction and acceleration, the CLS has larger rear tires than the A5 Sportback (275/35R19 vs. 245/40R18). The CLS 450’s rear tires are larger than the largest rear tires available on the A5 Sportback (275/35R19 vs. 255/35R19).

The CLS’ 275/35R19 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the A5 Sportback’s standard 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the CLS 450 has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the A5 Sportback. The CLS’ optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels optional on the A5 Sportback.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the CLS can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The A5 Sportback doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The CLS’ drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The A5 Sportback doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the CLS’ wheelbase is 4.5 inches longer than on the A5 Sportback (115.7 inches vs. 111.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the CLS is 1.2 inches wider in the front and 2.4 inches wider in the rear than on the A5 Sportback.

Chassis

The design of the Mercedes CLS amounts to more than styling. The CLS has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .27 Cd. That is lower than the A5 Sportback (.29) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the CLS get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The CLS has .6 inches more front legroom, 2.1 inches more front shoulder room and 2 inches more rear shoulder room than the A5 Sportback.

Cargo Capacity

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the CLS offers cargo security. The A5 Sportback’s hatchback body style defeats cargo security.

Ergonomics

The CLS has a standard 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 A5 Sportback doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

Unlike the driver-only memory system optional at extra cost in the A5 Sportback, the CLS has standard driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The CLS’ standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The A5 Sportback doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

If the windows are left open on the CLS the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the A5 Sportback can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the CLS offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The A5 Sportback doesn’t offer cornering lights.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the CLS to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The A5 Sportback doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The CLS offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The A5 Sportback doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

The CLS’ optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The A5 Sportback doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The CLS is available in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The A5 Sportback doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

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

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