Audi A4 vs. Mercedes-Benz C-Class

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - September 18, 2019

In the world of sport sedans, the Germans reign supreme. Since the BMW 3-Series defined the genre, the three Teutonic titans have had a stranglehold on the elusive blend of luxury, performance, and practicality that sport sedans offer. BMW may have started the party, but Audi and Mercedes-Benz have become world-class competitors. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Audi A4 remain two of the most polished sedans on the market. So, which is worth the investment? We took a closer look to get to the bottom of it.

See a side-by-side comparison of the A4 & C-Class »

What the A4 Gets Right

The Audi A4’s biggest draw is the price. Starting at $38,395 including destination, it’s thousands cheaper than a base-spec Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which starts at $42,395. The luxury isn’t lacking, either – leather upholstery is standard, and Audi’s technology is some of the best in the business.

The A4 also wins out on fuel economy. The base engine is a thrifty 2.0-liter four-cylinder that manages an impressive 30 miles per gallon combined, according to the EPA. Opting for all-wheel drive dings efficiency, but the A4 still drinks less fuel than an equivalent C-Class.

Although both are classified as compact sedans, the A4 is the roomier car. The A4 wins out on both leg room and head room. It also has slightly more cargo capacity, although neither of these cars compares well to the 3-Series in that department.

But the Audi’s final ace helps solve that problem: the A4 Allroad. The adventure-ready hatchback has more clearance and cargo space than the conventional A4 (and the C-Class), making it an appealing proposition for outdoor aficionados.

What the C-Class Gets Right

The Audi A4 comes with only two engine choices. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes with no fewer than four powertrains, one of which is a plug-in hybrid. The C300, AMG C 43, and AMG C 63 models provide different tiers of performance, while the plug-in hybrid C350e adds nine miles of electric-only range.

Not only are there more options, but they’re more powerful. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the C300 produces 241 horsepower, compared to just 188 hp in a base A4. Bumping up to the AMG C 43 or C 63 models widens the gap, even over Audi’s racier S4 and RS4 models. The base C-Class also comes with rear-wheel drive instead of the A4’s front-wheel drive, which may appeal to driving purists.

Styling is subjective, but to our eye, the C-Class is the more fashionable of the two. Audi’s design is clean but conservative, while the Mercedes-Benz’s curvier design catches the eye.

Luxury and Value

These cars offer two different interpretations of German luxury. Both handle nicely, and both boast excellent interiors and safety records. The Audi A4 is the more practical package, with a larger cabin, better fuel economy, and the rugged Allroad in the wings. It rings up substantially cheaper, too. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class likes to flaunt its luxury heritage, with swoopy lines (especially in coupe form) and a more powerful engine lineup.

Our Verdict: Audi A4

Although the Mercedes-Benz C-Class will justifiably draw its fair share of buyers, the Audi A4 wins this round. It combines the essence of a luxury sedan with a practical feature set that should satisfy a wide range of buyers. In this price range, value isn’t always what’s most important, but given all that the A4 brings to the table, we think it offers more bang for the buck.

Take a closer look at the Audi A4 »

Take a closer look at the Mercedes-Benz C-Class »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


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