2019 Mercedes S-Class vs. 2018 Audi S8

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes S-Class have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Audi S8 doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The rear seatbelts optional on the S-Class inflate when a collision is detected, helping to spread crash forces over a much larger area of the body and limiting head and neck movement. This can help prevent spinal and internal injuries. The S8 doesn’t offer inflatable seatbelts.

To help make backing safer, the S-Class’ 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 S8 doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The S-Class’ 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 S8 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The S-Class has standard Mercedes-Benz Emergency Call, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to 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 S8 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 S-Class and the S8 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, night vision systems and around view monitors.

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 S-Class’ warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates rated the S-Class third among large premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The S8 isn’t in the top three in its category.

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 AMG S 63’s standard 4.0 turbo V8 produces 111 lbs.-ft. more torque (664 vs. 553) than the S8’s 4.0 turbo V8. The AMG S 65/Maybach S 650’s standard 6.0 turbo V12 produces 16 more horsepower (621 vs. 605) and 185 lbs.-ft. more torque (738 vs. 553) than the S8’s 4.0 turbo V8.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the S-Class gets better fuel mileage than the S8:

 

 

S-Class

S8

 

RWD

450/Auto

19 city/28 hwy

n/a

 

 

560/Auto

17 city/27 hwy

n/a

 

 

AMG 65/Auto

13 city/22 hwy

n/a

 

 

Maybach 650/Auto

13 city/21 hwy

n/a

 

AWD

450/Auto

18 city/28 hwy

n/a

 

 

560/Auto

17 city/27 hwy

n/a

 

 

AMG 63/Auto

17 city/26 hwy

14 city/24 hwy

V8/Auto

 

Maybach 560/Auto

16 city/25 hwy

n/a

 

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the S-Class’ 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 S8 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The S-Class V12’s standard fuel tank has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the S8 (24.6 vs. 21.7 gallons).

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is available on the Mercedes S-Class, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the S8.

Tires and Wheels

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the S-Class can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The S8 doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The S-Class offers an available adjustable active suspension system, which counteracts cornering forces actively, limiting body roll and improving handling and stability. Audi doesn’t offer an active suspension on the S8.

The S-Class’ 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 S8 doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the S-Class’ wheelbase is 6.7 inches longer than on the S8 (124.6 inches vs. 117.9 inches). The Maybach S-Class’ wheelbase is 14.6 inches longer than on the S8 (132.5 inches vs. 117.9 inches).

For better maneuverability, the S AMG S 65’s turning circle is 2.3 feet tighter than the S8’s (38.1 feet vs. 40.4 feet).

Chassis

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the S 560 is quieter than the S8 Plus (40 vs. 43 dB).

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the S-Class a Large car, while the S8 is rated a Mid-size.

The S-Class has 10.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the S8 (112 vs. 101.9).

The S-Class has 2.5 inches more front headroom, .6 inches more front shoulder room and 1.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the S8.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the S-Class’ available rear seats recline. The S8’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The S-Class has a much larger trunk than the S8 (16.3 vs. 14.2 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

The S-Class 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 S8 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

If the windows are left open on the S-Class 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 S8 can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

Heated windshield washer fluid is standard on the S-Class to defrost the washer nozzles and quickly clear ice and frost from the windshield without scraping. The S8 doesn’t offer heated windshield washer fluid. Its standard heated washer nozzles will defrost the washer fluid but not the windshield.

To better shield the driver and front passenger’s vision, the S-Class has standard dual-element sun visors that can block glare from two directions simultaneously. The S8 doesn’t offer secondary sun visors.

Optional air conditioned front and rear seats keep the S-Class’ passengers comfortable and take the sting out of hot leather in summer. The S8 doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats in the rear.

Standard smartphone integration for the S-Class allows the driver and passengers access to select programs on their smartphones, including reading text messages aloud, playing internet radio stations, searching the internet and other connected activities without taking their eyes off the road or their hands from the wheel. The S8 doesn’t offer factory integrated smartphone program access.

The S-Class has a 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 S8 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

The S-Class’ 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 S8 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Mercedes S-Class comes in coupe, convertible and sedan bodystyles; the Audi S8 isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

The S-Class is available in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The S8 doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Mercedes S-Class, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Mercedes S-Class outsold the Audi A8/S8 by over 11 to one during the 2018 model year.

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

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