Both the Audi A7 Sportback and Mercedes CLS take established executive saloon platforms and wrap them in swoopy ‘four-door coupe’ bodies. We’ve compared these stylish cruisers side-by-side to help you pick the one that suits you best.
Take a look at how much carwow could help you save by using either our Audi A7 Sportback car configurator or Mercedes CLS in our car configurator. Not sold on either? Check out our list of the best saloon cars on sale.
Audi A7 vs Mercedes CLS styling
Thanks to their coupe-style rooflines, both the A7 and CLS boast more graceful silhouettes than the saloon cars on which they’re based.
From the front, the A7 looks like a slightly more aggressive A6 – the headlights are slimmer and sharper, and the grille is larger and wider. Large alloy wheels – even the smallest measure 19 inches – help make the A7 look planted in profile while the angular rear boot lid creates a squat, sporty shape at the back.
The CLS’ curvaceous body boasts sportier styling features than the rest of the Mercedes range such as the bulging rear arches that flow neatly into the brake lights. The rakish roof helps make the CLS look more eye-catching than Mercedes’ traditional saloon cars.
The CLS is also offered as a practical yet stylish Shooting Brake. This model costs between £500 and £1,580 more than the standard car but comes with a capacious 590-litre boot.
Audi A7 vs Mercedes CLS interior
Both the A7 and CLS’ cabins are beautifully built. The Audi sports a thick-rimmed steering wheel, wide centre console and an infotainment screen that pops out of the dashboard. The CLS’ interior, based on the outgoing E-Class, features a monolithic centre console culminating in a large central display. Neither interior is radically laid out and the fit and finish of both is superb.
The attractive profiles of each car have compromised interior space slightly. Rear headroom is adequate but taller passengers will find getting into and out of the Audi more difficult than an A6. Mercedes has ditched the centre rear seat to boost elbow room in the CLS but the rear is still a little cramped. Both the A7 and CLS offer less boot space than their saloon counterparts but, with 535 and 520 litres on offer respectively (590 litres in the case of the CLS Shooting Brake), they’re hardly pokey.
Audi A7 vs Mercedes CLS driving
The A7 rides smoothly and wind noise is well-suppressed from the cabin. The Audi’s steering feels slightly lifeless so it isn’t as fun to drive as some rivals, but the chassis is stable and the strong grip it provides is reassuring. All models, apart from but the entry-level diesel A7, are paired with Audi’s famed quattro four-wheel-drive system that offers brilliant all-weather traction.
In terms of ride and handling, however, the Mercedes manages to edge ahead. It’s still too heavy to be truly exciting but, for a car of its size, body control is impressive. Like the A7, there isn’t a great deal of steering feel but it’s still surprisingly fun on a twisty road. If you choose the optional air suspension, the ride quality is a step above the A7, too.
Audi A7 vs Mercedes CLS engines
The A7’s diesel lineup consists of one 3.0-litre V6 unit available in four varieties. The front-wheel drive Ultra model returns a claimed 60.1mpg despite pumping out 215hp, while the most potent V6 twin-turbodiesel is capable of catapulting the A7 from 0-62mph in 5.2-seconds.
If true speed is what you’re after, however, the RS7 is the most obvious choice. Its 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 produces a spectacular 552hp – enough to launch this 1,930kg coupe from 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds – the same as an Aston Martin V12 Vantage. A slightly less extreme (but still seriously rapid) S7 model is also available.
The CLS comes with a choice of two diesel and two petrol engines. The most efficient CLS 220 d can’t match the A7 Ultra for either performance or economy – an 8.5-second 0-62mph time is a full second slower than the Audi, while the official 56.5mpg figure is 3.6mpg worse. The more powerful 3.0-litre unit found in the 350 d offers much more performance with only a minor increase in fuel consumption so is our pick of the range.
Mercedes’ answer to the RS7 is the CLS AMG 63 S with a 5.5-litre twin turbo V8 that produces 585hp. The version is rear-wheel-drive only – a fact that may contribute to it being 0.4-seconds slower to reach 62mph from rest than the four-wheel-drive RS7. The thunderous sound it makes, however, is almost worth the asking price alone.
Audi A7 vs Mercedes CLS value for money
Looking at the bare figures, it could be argued that neither of these cars offers much in terms of value for money. Depending on the model, an Audi A7 costs between £5,000-£10,000 more than an equivalent A6 and there’s a similar price difference between the CLS and the E-Class.
The entry-level A7 appears to offer more than the equivalent CLS, however. The A7 3.0-litre TDI Ultra is not only faster and more frugal than the CLS 220 d, but it’s slightly cheaper to buy. As you’d hope from cars that cost more than £46,000, the standard equipment lists are generous – both models are equipped with full LED headlights, leather seats and high-tech infotainment systems.
The top-of-the-range Audi RS7 might be more expensive than a fully-specced CLS AMG 63 S but, considering both cars cost more than £85,000, price is less likely to be a factor in deciding which one of these super-saloons to buy.
Audi A7 vs Mercedes CLS verdict
Which of these two coupe-inspired executive cars is best? It’s a close call but the Mercedes just sneaks ahead of the Audi. It’s marginally more comfortable, more fun to drive, and, with the exception of the entry-level model, better value for money. Thanks to the Shooting Brake variant, the CLS range caters for drivers looking for greater practicality, too.
Save money on your next new car
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