A handful of luxury sedans set the standards for the rest to be judged by, and it's been that way for some time now. Two of the models in question are the 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the Audi A8. Let's see how these two heavyweights measure up against each other.
It used to just be a sedan, but now the 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes as a sedan, a coupe, and even a convertible. All three are stunningly attractive cars, but the coupe and convertible formats take the S-Class to an entirely new level. The S-Class is an unashamedly bold and confident design, and it's really hard to find fault. The Audi A8 offers no other body styles than the flagship sedan in the Audi range. It's imposing, handsome, and not in any way divisive, but it's the very epitome of conservative and safe. The considerably better-looking S-Class takes the honors here.
Interior Comfort & Quality
If you want to see and experience the very definition of a luxury car interior, take a look at the inside of the 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Many buyers will want to be driven by someone else while they enjoy the cosseting rear seats, but the front seats of the S-Class are equally as opulent. The quilted leather dash and silver-toned trim are as glamorous as anything Mercedes has ever delivered, and the ride is better than anything else in its class. All 2017 versions of the Audi A8 have an extended wheelbase, which means there's so much room in there that you might mistake it for a limousine. Perhaps a little surprisingly, there isn't a huge amount of trunk volume, although there's a wide opening to the 13.2 cu.-ft. you do have. The interior of the Audi is very good, as you'd expect, but it's nowhere near as upscale and opulent as the Mercedes.
Big, powerful, turbocharged engines are what you get in the S-Class, but the emphasis is focused more on effortless composure rather than sporty power delivery and handling. The S-Class does lack a little of the driver feedback we find in many of today's Mercedes-Benz cars, but the ride is like sitting on a fluffy cloud and the brakes are breathtakingly well-coordinated. The engines do go as big as a 621 horsepower 6.0-liter V-12, but it's actually the 577 horsepower 5.5-liter V-8 that's the fastest. The Audi has done away with the monstrous W-12 and the little-loved turbodiesel, so the engine lineup is now a lot more straightforward. The base engine is a 333 horsepower 3.0-liter V-6, while the other option is a 4.0-liter V-8 producing 450 horsepower. The focus is once again on assured composure here with the Audi, but it can't match what's offered by the Mercedes.
Cars costing as much as the S-Class rarely, if ever, see the inside of the IIHS and NHTSA crash labs. But although not officially rated, it's likely the S-Class would do pretty well if it was put through either of the two major testing regimes. Mercedes often uses this flagship model to launch its latest and most advanced safety features, and every version of the S-Class is positively bristling with hi-tech passive and active safety equipment and features. Once again, the Audi is too expensive and doesn't sell in large enough numbers to justify being put through the official crash-test regimes, but it does have just about every piece of the latest safety features you can imagine. But, even still, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class tops it just a little.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class continues to go from strength to strength, and despite being one its main rivals, the Audi A8 just isn't up to the same level. If you want something a little more anonymous but still very luxurious and comfortable, the Audi is a good option, but it's an aging model. Without any hesitation, if you're lucky enough to be in a position to choose between one of these two, the obvious and much better choice is the S-Class in any of its forms.