2020 Audi R8 vs. 2019 Mercedes SL

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The R8 has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The SL doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Both the R8 and the SL have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.


The R8’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the SL’s (12 vs. 5 years).


J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 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 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 10 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 13th.

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.


The R8 has more powerful engines than the SL:



R8 V10 5.2 DOHC V10

562 HP

406 lbs.-ft.

R8 V10 Performance/Decennium 5.2 DOHC V10

602 HP

413 lbs.-ft.

SL 450 3.0 turbo V6

362 HP

369 lbs.-ft.

SL 550 4.7 turbo V8

449 HP

516 lbs.-ft.

AMG SL 63 5.5 turbo V8

577 HP

664 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range

The R8’s standard fuel tank has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the SL (21.9 vs. 19.8 gallons).

The R8 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The SL doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.


All wheel drive, available in the R8, provides the best traction for acceleration in wet, dry, and icy conditions. In corners, all wheel drive allows both outside wheels to provide power, balancing the car. This allows for better handling. The Mercedes SL is not available with all wheel drive.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the R8’s standard brake rotors are larger than those on the SL:



Front Rotors

14.4 inches

13.5 inches

Rear Rotors

14 inches

12.6 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction and acceleration, the R8 has larger standard rear tires than the SL (295/35R19 vs. 285/30R19). The R8’s optional rear tires are larger than the largest rear tires available on the SL (305/30R20 vs. 285/30R19).

The R8’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 30 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the SL’s 35 series front tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the R8 offers optional 20-inch wheels. The SL’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the R8’s wheelbase is 2.6 inches longer than on the SL (104.3 inches vs. 101.7 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the R8 is 1.5 inches wider in the front than the average track on the SL.


The Audi R8 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 450 pounds less than the Mercedes SL.

The R8 is 7.8 inches shorter than the SL, making the R8 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Model Availability

The Audi R8 comes in coupe and convertible bodystyles; the Mercedes SL isn’t available as a coupe.

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

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