Used test: Audi A8 vs Mercedes S-Class

Buy either of these two superb luxury cars at a couple of years old and you'll save yourself a fortune. But which one should be top of your list? We have the answer...

Audi A8 Saloon Sport 50 TDI quattro

What are they like inside?

Finding the ideal driving position in the two cars is a cinch. Both get electric front seats as standard, including four-way electrically adjustable lumbar support, so comfort is almost guaranteed. 

Audi A8 2019 RHD dashboard

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. 

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 camera to help better judge tight parking spaces.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class (2014-present) - interior

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, with its plastics and piano black trims feeling a tad more solidly bolted together.

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.

But it’s really these cars’ rear quarters that need to provide seriously luxurious space. Make no mistake: Audi and Mercedes have ensured that space in the back is fit for giants, but ultimately the A8 has more rear leg and head room, even if its rear seat area is very slightly narrower.

On paper, official boot space 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 A8 versus seven in the S-Class – although it’s likely that the S-Class would be able to swallow an extra case in standard form. However, the A8’s rear seats can be folded flat to create even more space, while this isn’t possible – even as an option from new – on the S-Class.