2020 Mercedes SLC vs. 2019 Audi A3 Cabriolet

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The SLC has standard NECK-PRO Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the NECK-PRO Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The SLC’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 SLC 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 SLC and the A3 Cabriolet have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger 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 lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear parking sensors.

Warranty

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

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 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 12th in initial quality. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 22nd.

Engine

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The SLC’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 57 more horsepower (241 vs. 184) and 52 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 221) than the A3 Cabriolet 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The SLC’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 13 more horsepower (241 vs. 228) and 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 258) than the A3 Cabriolet 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

Fuel Economy and Range

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The SLC has 2.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Cabriolet 40 TFSI’s standard fuel tank (15.9 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The SLC has 1.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Cabriolet 45 TFSI Quattro’s standard fuel tank (15.9 vs. 14.5 gallons).

Transmission

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

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the SLC’s standard brake rotors are larger than those on the A3 Cabriolet:

SLC

A3 Cabriolet

Front Rotors

12.7 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

10.7 inches

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction and acceleration, the SLC has larger rear tires than the A3 Cabriolet (245/40R17 vs. 225/45R17). The SLC 300’s rear tires are larger than the largest rear tires available on the A3 Cabriolet (245/40R17 vs. 235/35R19).

The SLC 300’s standard 245/40R17 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the A3 Cabriolet’s standard 45 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The SLC offers an optional 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.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the SLC is 1.5 inches wider in the rear than on the A3 Cabriolet.

Chassis

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The SLC is 11.3 inches shorter than the A3 Cabriolet, making the SLC easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The SLC’s standard power retractable hardtop allows a seamless transition from an open car, to a completely sealed coupe. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a retractable hardtop.

Passenger Space

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The SLC has .6 inches more front headroom and 1.3 inches more front legroom than the A3 Cabriolet.

Cargo Capacity

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

Servicing Ease

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The engine in the SLC 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.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Audi. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 13% lower rating, Audi is ranked 8th.

Ergonomics

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When three different drivers share the SLC, 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 SLC’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.

In case of a sudden change of weather, the SLC offers an optional 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.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The SLC offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer headlight washers.

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

When the SLC 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.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the SLC owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the SLC will cost $555 to $2690 less than the A3 Cabriolet over a five-year period.

The SLC will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the SLC will retain 42.92% to 44.41% of its original price after five years, while the A3 Cabriolet only retains 38.49% to 39.3%.

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