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Used test: Audi A8 vs Mercedes S-Class interiors

Buy either of these gadget-laden luxury saloons at four years old and you'll save yourself a fortune. But which one should you go for?...

Used Audi A8 dashboard


Driving position, visibility, build quality, practicality

Finding the ideal driving position in either the Mercedes S-Class or Audi A8 is very easy. Both get electric front seats as standard from new, including four-way electrically adjustable lumbar support, so comfort is almost guaranteed. 

Unfortunately, Audi’s decision to put the climate controls on one of its two large high-res touchscreens isn’t so impressive, because finding and selecting your desired temperature on the move is rather distracting, despite the use of haptic icons. The S-Class has a 12.3in screen with the menus navigated by a rotary controller, as well as physical buttons for the air-con that are far more user-friendly.

Used Mercedes S-Class dashboard

These cars’ vast length and width can make them feel a bit cumbersome to drive in town, but at least they have decent-sized side windows and thin front pillars for judging roundabouts and T-junctions. It’s a good thing that both come with front and rear parking sensors as standard, as well as a crisp and clear reversing cameras to help better judge tight parking spaces.

It’s perhaps not surprising that the interior quality on show from the two manufacturers is some of the finest you’ll find anywhere. There are swathes of leather covering both cars’ dashboards and doors, slick, well-damped switches and metal trim highlights. However, the A8 just has the edge because its plastics and piano-black trims feel a tad more solidly bolted together.

Used Audi A8 rear seats

Room in the front of the two cars is pleasingly generous for the driver and front passenger. Both manufacturers provide deep door bins, a decent-sized cubby beneath the central armrest and a couple of cupholders. The S-Class also gets a useful cubby at the base of its dashboard – a space that is taken up by the lower of the two touchscreens in the A8.

In this class, though, it's the cars' rear seats that need to provide seriously luxurious space. Make no mistake: Audi and Mercedes have both ensured that room in the back is fit for giants, but ultimately the A8 has more rear leg and head room, although its rear seat area is very slightly narrower.

Used Mercedes S-Class rear seats

On paper, official boot volume figures show there are just five litres between the two cars. However, our S-Class test car was fitted with an optional Individual Rear Seat Package (£5000 from new) that, while enabling electric movement of the rear seats, as well as heating and cooling, reduces boot space by 30 litres. As such, we managed to fit eight carry-on suitcases in the Audi A8 versus seven in the Mercedes S-Class – although it’s likely that the S-Class would be able to swallow an extra case in standard form.

The A8’s rear seats can be folded flat to create even more space, which isn’t possible – even as an option from new – on the S-Class.