Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2011 Mercedes Benz S-Class VS 2011 Audi A8 Near Phoenix, AZ

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2011 Mercedes Benz S-Class

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2011 Audi A8

Safety Comparison

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 A8 doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes S-Class are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Audi A8 has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

The S-Class (except S400 Hybrid)’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 A8 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The S-Class has standard mbrace, 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 A8 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 A8 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four wheel antilock brakes, traction control and electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.

Warranty Comparison

There are over 18 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are Audi dealers, which makes it easier to get service under the S-Class’ warranty.

Reliability Comparison

J.D. Power and Associates rated the S-Class second among large premium cars in their 2010 Initial Quality Study. The A8 isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2010 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 third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 24 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 12th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ surveys of the owners of three-year-old cars provide the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 9th in reliability, above the industry average. With 40 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 26th.

Engine Comparison

The S550’s standard 5.5 DOHC V8 produces 10 more horsepower (382 vs. 372) and 63 lbs.-ft. more torque (391 vs. 328) than the A8’s 4.2 DOHC V8. The S600’s standard 5.5 turbo V12 produces 138 more horsepower (510 vs. 372) and 284 lbs.-ft. more torque (612 vs. 328) than the A8’s 4.2 DOHC V8. The S63’s standard 5.5 turbo V8 produces 164 more horsepower (536 vs. 372) and 262 lbs.-ft. more torque (590 vs. 328) than the A8’s 4.2 DOHC V8. The S65’s standard 6.0 turbo V12 produces 232 more horsepower (604 vs. 372) and 410 lbs.-ft. more torque (738 vs. 328) than the A8’s 4.2 DOHC V8.

As tested in Motor Trend the Mercedes S-Class is faster than the Audi A8:




Zero to 60 MPH

5.3 sec

4.7 sec

5.5 sec

Quarter Mile

13.8 sec

13.2 sec

13.9 sec

For more instantaneous acceleration and better engine flexibility in any gear, the S-Class’ engines produce their peak torque and horsepower at lower RPM’s than the A8:




6000 RPM

2400 RPM

S550 5.5 DOHC V8

6000 RPM

2800 RPM

S600 5.5 turbo V12

5000 RPM

1800 RPM

S63 5.5 turbo V8

5500 RPM

2000 RPM

S65 6.0 turbo V12

4800 RPM

2000 RPM

A8 4.2 DOHC V8

6800 RPM

3500 RPM

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the S-Class Hybrid/S63’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. The A8 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the S63/65’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the A8:



Front Rotors

15.4 inches

14 inches

Rear Rotors

14.4 inches

13 inches

The S-Class stops shorter than the A8:



70 to 0 MPH

154 feet

160 feet

Car and Driver

Suspension and Handling Comparison

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 A8.

The S-Class’ optional 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 A8 doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the S-Class’ wheelbase is 6.8 inches longer than on the A8 (124.6 inches vs. 117.8 inches). The S-Class’ wheelbase is 1.7 inches longer than on the A8L (124.6 inches vs. 122.9 inches).

The S-Class’ front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.5% to 48.5%) than the A8’s (54.9% to 45.1%). This gives the S-Class more stable handling and braking.

The S65 handles at .90 G’s, while the A8 pulls only .89 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the S-Class’ turning circle is .4 feet tighter than the A8’s (40 feet vs. 40.4 feet). The S-Class’ turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the A8L’s (40 feet vs. 41 feet).

Chassis Comparison

As tested by AutoWeek, the interior of the S600 is quieter than the A8:



At idle

42 dB

51 dB

60 MPH Cruising

60 dB

63 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the S-Class is rated a Large car by the EPA, while the A8 is rated a Mid-size.

The S-Class has 7.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A8 (109.4 vs. 102).

The S-Class has .6 inches more front headroom, .5 inches more front legroom, .4 inches more rear headroom, 3.6 inches more rear legroom and .9 inches more rear shoulder room than the A8.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The S-Class has a much larger trunk than the A8 (16.4 vs. 13.2 cubic feet).

Ergonomics Comparison

If the windows are left down on the S-Class the driver can raise them all using the keyless remote (remote must be aimed at door sensor); on a hot day the driver can lower the windows. The driver of the A8 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 A8 doesn’t offer heated windshield washer fluid.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the S-Class detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The A8 doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

When the S-Class 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 A8’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

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