2019 Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet vs. 2018 Audi A3 Cabriolet

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The E-Class Cabriolet has standard front and rear seat side-impact airbags and head airbags, which act as a forgiving barrier between the passengers and the door. Combined with high-strength steel door beams this system increases protection from broadside collisions. The A3 Cabriolet doesn't offer rear-seat side-impact airbags, only ones for front seat occupants.

The E-Class Cabriolet offers an optional Surround View System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The A3 Cabriolet only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The E-Class Cabriolet’s 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 A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The E-Class Cabriolet has standard Mercedes-Benz Emergency Call, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions, remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the E-Class Cabriolet and the A3 Cabriolet 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, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet weighs 562 to 893 pounds more than the Audi A3 Cabriolet. 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 E-Class Cabriolet’s 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 E 450 Cabriolet’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 176 more horsepower (362 vs. 186) and 148 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 221) than the A3 Cabriolet’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The E 450 Cabriolet’s 3.0 turbo V6 produces 142 more horsepower (362 vs. 220) and 111 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 258) than the A3 Cabriolet’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The AMG E 53 Cabriolet’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. hybrid produces 209 more horsepower (429 vs. 220) and 126 lbs.-ft. more torque (384 vs. 258) than the A3 Cabriolet’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the E-Class Cabriolet’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The E-Class Cabriolet has 4.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Cabriolet FWD’s standard fuel tank (17.4 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The E-Class Cabriolet has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Cabriolet Quattro’s standard fuel tank (17.4 vs. 14.5 gallons).

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the A3 Cabriolet.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the E-Class Cabriolet’s brake rotors are larger than those on the A3 Cabriolet:

 

E 450

AMG E 53

A3

Front Rotors

14.2 inches

14.6 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

14.2 inches

14.2 inches

10.7 inches

The E-Class Cabriolet’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the A3 Cabriolet are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the E-Class Cabriolet has larger standard tires than the A3 Cabriolet (245/45R18 vs. 225/45R17). The E-Class Cabriolet’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the A3 Cabriolet (F:245/45R18 & R:275/40R18 vs. 235/35R19).

The E-Class Cabriolet’s optional 275/30R20 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 30 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the A3 Cabriolet’s optional 35 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the E-Class Cabriolet has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the A3 Cabriolet. The E-Class Cabriolet’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels optional on the A3 Cabriolet.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the E-Class Cabriolet can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The E-Class Cabriolet offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The A3 Cabriolet’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The E-Class Cabriolet has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The E-Class Cabriolet’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

The E-Class Cabriolet’s 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 A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the E-Class Cabriolet’s wheelbase is 10.9 inches longer than on the A3 Cabriolet (113.1 inches vs. 102.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the E-Class Cabriolet is 2.5 inches wider in the front and 3 inches wider in the rear than the track on the A3 Cabriolet.

Passenger Space

The E-Class Cabriolet has 3.3 inches more front headroom, .6 inches more front legroom, 1.3 inches more front shoulder room, .1 inches more rear headroom, 2.2 inches more rear legroom and 2.7 inches more rear shoulder room than the A3 Cabriolet.

Cargo Capacity

The E-Class Cabriolet has a much larger trunk with its top down than the A3 Cabriolet with its top down (9.5 vs. 7.1 cubic feet).

With its convertible body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the E-Class offers cargo security. The A3 Cabriolet’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the E-Class Cabriolet’s power trunk can be opened or closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the E-Class Cabriolet is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the A3 Cabriolet. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

The E-Class Cabriolet has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

The E-Class Cabriolet 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 A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When three different drivers share the E-Class Cabriolet, the memory system makes it convenient for all three. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver and front passenger’s seat positions, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a memory system.

The E-Class Cabriolet’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The E-Class Cabriolet offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The E-Class Cabriolet’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children in the rear seat from operating them. Audi does not offer a locking feature on the A3 Cabriolet’s standard power windows.

In case of a sudden change of weather, the E-Class Cabriolet has a standard remote convertible top that can be raised from a distance to protect the interior of the vehicle from damage. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a remote top, so the driver will have to run to the car, get in, turn the ignition on and raise the top to prevent the interior from being damaged.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the E-Class Cabriolet has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer cornering lights. The E-Class Cabriolet also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

When the E-Class Cabriolet is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The A3 Cabriolet’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the E-Class Cabriolet keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the E-Class Cabriolet’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The E-Class Cabriolet’s 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 A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Mercedes E-Class comes in coupe, convertible, sedan and station wagon bodystyles; the Audi A3 isn’t available as a coupe.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the E-Class Cabriolet is less expensive to operate than the A3 Cabriolet because it costs $360 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the E-Class Cabriolet than the A3 Cabriolet, including $4 less for front brake pads and $157 less for front struts.

Recommendations

The E-Class was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” in 2018. The A3 Cabriolet has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The Mercedes E-Class outsold the Audi A3/S3 by over two to one during the 2018 model year.

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

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