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Mercedes CLS 500 4Matic versus Audi S7 Sportback: all-wheel-drive coupés with over 400 hp

Dino Eisele
Mercedes CLS 500 4Matic versus Audi S7 Sportback
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E there are a few things you can take with you the Audi S7 Sportback as a nice person shouldn't necessarily do. For example, picking up a British couple who are friends at the airport and who have never seen a German Autobahn from the back seat of a 450-hp car: 'Oh, that's a pretty Audi,' is the first comment after getting into the red wallpapered rear. 'Oh, no diesel' the second, as the eight-cylinder roars off. Parking garage barrier, Terminalstrasse, A 92 westbound, no speed limit.

Audi S7 Sportback develops 450 hp

The Audi S7 Sportback hisses casually into the left lane, speedometer 200, little traffic, silence in the rear. Then Kreuz Neufahrn, A 9, again no speed limit, almost empty four lanes, 230. On the right, a shimmer of red light wipes through the picture. 'What was that?' She asks. 'Allianz Arena,' says the male guest. Then speed 80, brake, middle ring, tunnel in the neon light. Silence in the back seats. 'Wow,' he remarks, 'I had no idea what you were building these cars for.' In the Mercedes Mercedes CLS 500 4Matic the experience might have been a touch less emphatic, but it probably wouldn't have been a difference: 408 or 450 PS, at this level around ten percent performance difference is not worth mentioning.

Before The latest model upgrade measures, this difference was even smaller, but the Audi got 30 hp, while the Mercedes stayed at 408. The visitors from England could have observed another new feature better: Since the facelift, the Audi S7 Sportback has already had a lot with the A8 lauded matrix LED light. Mercedes has also been offering adaptive LED headlights for the CLS since the summer. There the system is called Multibeam, costs just under 1,900 euros extra (almost a thousand more than at Audi) and when driving at night it bathes the motorway in glistening white light-emitting diode light.

Adaptive LED light is convincing

Both systems show the current state of the art - a detailed light test should show which actually offers more. Subjectively, we like the matrix light of the Audi S7 Sportback better because its adaptive functions are quieter and less jerky. A plus of the Multibeam in the Mercedes CLS 500 4matic, on the other hand, is the motorway function, with which only the area on the left up to the central guardrail is brightly illuminated.

Otherwise they stayModel maintenance measures for the Mercedes CLS 500 4matic and Audi S7 Sportback are very subtle, apart from the headlights, the design changes are limited. It gets more interesting with the interior. In both cases, the latest generation of infotainment systems offer the occupants all-round care with a high level of connectivity. The Mercedes is a little weak here because it does not stream music from the Internet. New to the CLS is the now free-standing eight-inch monitor, which, however, has a black border and only uses part of the area for displays.

Audi S7 Sportback offers WLAN hotspot

The Audi S7 Sportback comes with the latest generation of the MMI Touch. It can do everything you could want from a multimedia networked car: from a super-fast LTE connection to the Internet to a WLAN hotspot that connects the mobile devices of fellow travelers to the web, including audio streaming from the network. Incidentally, the voice recognition systems in S7 and CLS work extremely well. Once you have familiarized yourself with Linguatronic (Mercedes) or voice control in the Audi, you will probably never again call up navigation destinations, radio stations or calls using the rotary push button.

Everything is fine and good, but what can the luxury coupes now be on the road? It could actually be summed up in one sentence, but then the text would end here: The Audi S7 Sportback is the active driving sports car, the Mercedes the relaxed travel companion. It's not that simple, of course, and that's why it's worth reading on.

Smooth Mercedes comes with 19-inch tires

It starts with the fact that the Audi S7 Sportback is, unsurprisingly, the slightly less resilient car of the two. It has a specially tuned air suspension as standard, which reacts much more stiffly to unevenness than the standard Airmatic of the Mercedes CLS 500 4matic. Of course, the Audi is not a rock-hard box, part of these characteristics can also be attributed to the standard 19-inch tires. In any case, the Mercedes CLS travels more smoothly across the asphalt, but the differences are minor, neither of the two coupés reacts unpleasantly, not even when the maximum payload of 574 kg (S7) or 503 kg (CLS) is fully utilized.

Of course, this has an impact on the driving characteristics. With the tighter basic set-up and the lower tendency to roll, the Audi S7 Sportback rushes through corners with great agility. So he masters slalom and double lane changes at a slightly higher speed, at least the difference on the steering wheel feels much more than it actually is on the stopwatch.

Audi S7 Sportback and CLS on par in terms of driving performance

Because the Mercedes is by no means slow, it also has lessdirect, yet more sensitive and better steering. The adaptive power steering of the Audi S7 Sportback requires noticeably less steering work, but it feels synthetic, the increased self-aligning torque in sport mode seems artificial and inappropriate. That is, however, grumbling at a very high level, the Mercedes CLS 500 4matic mainly leaves the more harmonious impression.

Which brings us to the engines. And when it comes to driving performance, which, as expected, does not reveal a really decisive difference. With the more powerful V8, the Audi S7 Sportback is hardly more than a touch faster than the Mercedes, and exactly half a second faster to 100 km /h - that was no different with the previous model with 420 hp. The differences when pulling through from 60 to 100 and 80 to 120 km /h are even smaller, a tenth of a second is each time, no comment is required.

Economical eight-cylinder

But here, too, it depends more on how it feels: The S7 seems to accelerate more violently, but this is mainly due to the pompous background noise of its four-liter biturbo. It hammers at full throttle like a dragstrip eight-cylinder, although it is basically a socially acceptable modern V8 - with cylinder deactivation and automatic start-stop. The CLS eight makes less fuss and can do almost everything just as well. When it comes to fuel consumption, with test consumption of around 12.5 liters, the Audi S7 Sportback needed a tenth more here, as with other measurements.

Certainly not a purchasing criterion, just like the list prices. The fun starts at just over 80,000 euros, the S7 is a bit cheaper, as it has subtleties such as 19-inch wheels, keyless starting and electrically operated tailgate on board as standard. The upper limits are fluid, the driven Audi S7 Sportback costs 120,420 euros, the hardly less opulent Mercedes CLS 500 4Matic will not be cheaper. When this price is mentioned, the visit from England falls completely silent. But for all the money there are not only two excellent premium coupés, but also a piece of the finest German automotive lifestyle.

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