Audi A7 vs Mercedes-Benz CLS550

By

Automotive Editor

Seth Harrison is a journalism major at James Madison University and has been an automotive fanatic for as long as he can remember. He has interned for Autoweek.com, and has also worked on some of JMU’s student-produced magazines. He is eagerly awaiting the day that he has the space and means to purchase his ideal project car: something Volkswagen from the 1980s.

Follow On: Google+ | Website

, Automotive Editor - January 20, 2015

Audi and Mercedes-Benz were content selling standard A6s and E-Classes when somebody decided that a midsize lineup limited to plain old luxury sedans wasn't good enough anymore. In an effort to enliven the segment, they introduced stylish four-door "coupes" built on A6 and E-Class platforms.

The Audi A7 is a hatchback with a supercharged V6 under the hood, while the Mercedes-Benz CLS has a traditional trunk and a V8 as standard. Which is the better choice for the fashion-conscious luxury buyer?

See a side-by-side comparison of the A7 & CLS500 >>

What the Mercedes-Benz CLS550 Does Right

The CLS essentially pioneered the concept of a four-door coupe when it first hit showrooms. This recently redesigned model easily integrates Mercedes-Benz's latest styling language, as well as current styling trends like LED headlights. The CLS’s main attraction, however, is under the long hood: a 4.7-liter V8 that pumps 402 horsepower through a 7-speed automatic transmission.

The CLS550 provides swanky accommodations for four, with excellent fit, finish and materials, as well as controls that will be familiar to any Benz owner. Niceties such as a navigation system are standard, and buyers can choose from six different styles of leather and three wood trims.

What the Audi A7 Does Right

The A7’s stylists took the shape most derided by the American public -- the hatchback -- and turned it into a thing of beauty. The fastback roofline's sharp creases mean that the A7 is eye-catching and functional. It is unmistakably an Audi, yet looks like nothing else.

With up to 24.5 cubic feet of cargo space and a 60/40 split folding rear seat, the A7 is a viable alternative to a station wagon. The well-appointed interior provides seating for four or five, and features a sharp looking gauge cluster and center stack. As always in an Audi, all of the switchgear feels solid and precise.

Audi was ambitious when selecting the powertrain for the A7, shunning a V8 in favor of a 3-liter supercharged V6 with 310 horsepower. Top that off with an 8-speed automatic and Audi's standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system, and the A7 has plenty of get-up-and-go for any situation

Who has the Winning Formula?

Both cars are certainly head turners, and that’s how Audi and Mercedes-Benz like it. The latter has been in the game longer, so the CLS surely has the edge, right? Wrong. Big V8s may have been the thing for the "in crowd" a decade ago, but in today’s landscape of eco-consciousness, the Audi’s V6 provides similar performance with more efficiency. The hatchback also offers A7 buyers the versatility a CLS can't match.

Our Choice: Audi A7

The CLS550 has style, but the A7 has style and practicality.

Take a closer look at the Audi A7 >>

Take a closer look at the Mercedes-Benz CLS550 >>

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

, Automotive Editor

Seth Harrison is a journalism major at James Madison University and has been an automotive fanatic for as long as he can remember. He has interned for Autoweek.com, and has also worked on some of JMU’s student-produced magazines. He is eagerly awaiting the day that he has the space and means to purchase his ideal project car: something Volkswagen from the 1980s.

Follow On: Google+ | Website