MotorTrend: 2009 Audi A8 vs 2009 BMW 750Li vs 2009 Mercedes-Benz S550

7-series | June 2nd, 2009 by 38
112 0908 43zaudi a8 bmw 750li mercedes s550front view

We’ve been waiting for this comparison for quite some time now. If the new 2009 BMW 7 Series has been compared with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class …

We’ve been waiting for this comparison for quite some time now. If the new 2009 BMW 7 Series has been compared with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class over and over again, the Audi A8 was missing from this picture despite the fact that it is also a direct competitor to the two other German high-end luxury cars.

But the fellows at MotorTrend took on the task of putting these three ultra-luxurious head-to-head and regardless of the final results, the controversy among the fans will still remain.

Obviously most of us are biased towards one of these brands and it is perfectly acceptable, but still let’s see what you think after we tell you that MotorTrend chose the Mercedes-Benz S550 as being their first choice.

112 0908 43zaudi a8 bmw 750li mercedes s550front view 655x409

Jason Statham and Pierce Brosnan, playing their silver-screen action selves, battled the baddies in a BMW 7 Series (“The Transporter,” “Tomorrow Never Dies”). For his sequel, Statham switched to an Audi A8L, a car he also drove in “Transporter 3.” As for the third premium German giant, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, versions of the maker’s flagship sedan have appeared in everything from “The Sopranos” to “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ronin,” “Enemy of the State” — in fact, just about any action flick or TV show involving piles of cash or a “Mr. Big.”

So, yes, you know they’re all good-action pros don’t play around with second-rate tools. But of the current-gen versions, which of the three ranks as our favorite getaway?

It’s a closely matched trio. The Audi A8L 4.2 quattro, the Mercedes-Benz S550, and the brand-new BMW 750Li: Each sports a twin-cam V-8 making between 350 and 400 horsepower. The three are within an inch of each other in overall length (each is a long-wheelbase version; the Benz is sold only in extended form stateside) and range from a low of 4449 pounds (Audi) to a high of 4659 pounds (BMW). Base prices are close enough that cost probably won’t be a major issue for the moneyed shoppers considering these steeds: Audi ($78,725), BMW ($86,025), Mercedes-Benz ($91,225).

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38 responses to “MotorTrend: 2009 Audi A8 vs 2009 BMW 750Li vs 2009 Mercedes-Benz S550”

  1. Parker Despain says:

    Its rough sometimes to read MT since I am so used to Car and Driver always letting the BMW win.

    I am really having a difficult time understanding why they said it had terrible throttle response, rubbery steering, and a suspension that “fails at both handling poise and ride comfort”. Having driven both a sport and non sport, I disagree.

    And if they would just GET OVER the iDrive. Its been out since 2002, they need to sit down and actually try to use it instead of knocking it on every time they test one so equipped.

    Other than that… Great article haha :)

  2. Hamin says:

    I am disappointed to see 750 Li at 3rd place…I am taking a delivery in 1 week!!!. …, that hurts…., I have test driven all 3 before buying, Was not impressed with Audi A8 at all, interior/ engine was no way near new 7er. I dont know how they put Audi A8 in 2nd place…that car needs A new model very soon,…..

    s550, Hmm…its a boring car for me ….I am 30 right now, and need something more sporty and ” younger “.

    • Wes says:

      yep, that says much about the A8 since the body has been out since 2004. they really did a good job on building the current A8. So I wouldnt knock that car unless you have been driving one for a while, you will be surprised.

  3. Giom says:

    Now what do you say to an article like that? I am so glad about the two coments above, but it frustrates me to no ends when any auto publication writes sush bs.

    It must be personal…?

  4. Lance says:

    That VW Audi is probably not even suppose to be compared to BMW and Merc. Clearly some bias decisions here. But to be honest, the front design of the 7 is just a fail. Who in this world can actually tell me that they find it attractive? I suppose that Adrian guy who’s in love with pig nostrils would say it is a work of art… but who else. DISAPPOINTING!

    • Giom says:

      I find the bigger kidney grills beautifull. Now, when I see older cars their grills look really puny. The big grills give the car pressence.

      I’m not in love with the seven series front, but I don’t dislike it -not by far.

  5. Adam says:

    I think the design of the 7 is fine, but when I sat in the car I felt the interior could have been more luxurious.

    I can’t believe they rated the older A8 higher than the brand new 7. And they even said there was a huge gap between 3rd place and 2nd place meaning the 7 wasn’t even close to the A8. Before I read the article I assumed it would be a battle between the 7 and the Merc for 1st place. I never expected it to place dead last. You can just hear the Genesis owners pounding their chest right now.

  6. _Auday_ says:

    3rd/1st or BMW vs MB doesn’t really matter as much as what they say about the car.
    I’ve seen BMWs loosing to other competitors in magazines comparos many times before, and the reasons could be Bias against BMW, iDrive, luxury ….etc. But never seen them failing to outperform competitors when it comes to spirited driving, steering wheel feedback, throttle response, and basically everything that’s BMWs are about.
    It’s only now that I’m reading such continuous disappointing articles about the 7er and the new Z4 that I see things like that, all BMW models used to come first all the time when they talk about driving.

    I like to believe that those new articles are all BS, but when the same verdict is repeated again and again, I think I have to be reasonable, and ask BMW why?! why are you blending yourself so much in the mainstream market and loose your essence as the mark of drivers car in all sizes and all categories.

    • Giom says:

      I also picked up on the same theme. It is a little worrying.

      Btw and off topic… This new comment and reply feature is the bomb!

    • Alex says:

      I don’t know where are you finding all these “continuous disappointing articles” about the 7er but all the articles that I’ve read (aside from this MT trash) were pretty positive – articles like the C&D’s comparison, Edmunds’ Full Test, as well as articles in foreign magazines like AutoReview (Russian car magazine).

  7. Ale says:

    “It’s the Windows Vista of luxury cars” That really hurt me! Not a fan of Apple (any more), but I now what he means, and its not good (bad, uncool… a total failure) Not happy with the result >(

  8. Ale says:

    …but I KNOW what he meant… (sorry for my english)

  9. George says:

    Can anybody tell the author that the new i-drive is still not stupid proof?What is the use of critisizing about Vista when you don’t know how to operate a computer? He should should have sticked to his ATARI.

    It is true that there is some controvesy with the design, but there is no way the driving dynamics of this car are inferior to those found on the Audi and the Benz!

    In the luxury sedan market it is difficult to balance a sporty drive with a comfortable ride, but I think that the new 7 series satisfies those two requirements better than its competitors.

    @ Hamin : You should be happy with your choice! You are still young!Mercedes should provide respirators with their cars.

  10. kcsnayud says:

    i am furious

    this is mad i hate motertrend they talk rubbish the 7 rulez

  11. Tuesmq says:

    IMO Motortrend has no credibility. Their car of the year pick has yielded many lousy picks. Their website is hard to navigate. The flow of articles just go all over the place. Lousy journalism.

    I’m sticking to comments from Car and Driver and NY Times.

  12. Kodey says:

    This is total BS. My friends dad got a new 7 and its friggin amazing the new sport and ultra sport is unrivaled no doubt. I hate MT they are crappy and very unorganized at what they do. As said above me i will stick to Car and Drive and also NY Times. I really love the new interior of the 7, very luxurious and yet still the feeling of sporty. The I-Drive is much easier to use. They have hated that since 2002. If they would sit down for 5 minutes and try and use it they will find it to be very simple. But W,e its MT and we all know that the 7 beats the Audi no doubt in every comparison its not even worth using the gas for the comparison. But i do think it should be the battle of the Benz and the BMW. O well 7er wins in the mind of us BMW fans who know the Real meaning of what BMW stands for.

  13. Tebogo Radikoro says:

    I am bored by the comparison,its being time cars copiying bmw and its never put to the public
    1.Gear drive by wire was copied by benz audi vw lexus and others
    2.Benz escaped to AMG finishing what about the true benz brand stand(poor) daytime running ligths are not important because emergency cars,police,fire cars are the one that should use lights during the day not just cars ,whats the purpose
    4.On the design side Chris Bangler is not a true designer say good for cars like bmw,ever since his arrival bmw has been critisesed in every respect where i new it was good and i do not know if people are aware of this gentlemen
    ,i have been a bmw fan since 1991 and have never seen an audi,benz or any othe car beating bmw guys say something

  14. Arthur says:

    I always feel like Motor Trend has the poorest reputation in their journalism amongst the car mags. I never really trust their judgement. Look at some of the cars they’ve chosen as car of the year…Toyota Camry? Honda Civic? 97 Malibu? Uh, OK.

  15. BMW rules , that Audi is way ugly , the interioir is not as nice a cheaper Audi’ like A5, A4 and A6

    MT probably posted those results to create some controvessy (sp) , we all know bimmer rules , hell they the highest selling luxury car maker right now so u know people are choosing their cars over the other two. I must say that Audi A4 looks better than 3 series , A5 too.

  16. kcsnayud says:


    but really, they have to tell the truth or else on one will watch the website and they get no money. but why the heck they hate the 7 so much… its a great car

    however the new xj’s interior and exterior is better looking than the 7’s. maybe it will be the top of its class this time?

  17. Babken says:

    My friends,
    Don’t believe what those pathetic reviewers say. BMW always offers the optimum point between the luxury and performance, something neither dirty mercedes nor any manufacturer else can do. BMW rules the world. And if you look at the performance numbers it becomes clear that BMW smashes both the mercedes and audi aside. So what else can you wish?

  18. Martin says:

    I think I have an unbias opinion about this. I’ve owned BMW 745LI and two Lexus LS400 as well. In the past when I bought cars, I’ve checked out the Benz extensively and I’ve chose the BMW over the Benz because I thought the blend of performance and luxury of the BMW was far superior than the Benz.

    However, I’ve checked out the Audi A8L and by far the Audi has stepped up their game. In fact, I just checked out the BMWs website and tried to use their “compare vehicle” option under the BMW 750 LI Sedan. 1st of all, they would not allow you to compare apples to apples. The 750Li Sedan is not comparable to the A8. It’s comparable to the A8L but they will not allow you to choose that vehicle. HMMM – why not.

    When you look at a lot of the standard features on an A8L, those same options are an upgrade on a 750LI Sedan and not standard.

    So you pay extra.

    So now when you compare performance, luxury and cost, the A8L is a superior vehicle to the 750LI Sedan.

    End of story.

    • Lance says:

      Cannot compare the 7 to the A8L becasue they are not in teh same class. The A8L is sub-premium whereas BMW’s 7 is at the top of the premium segment. How can you compare a VW to a BMW or Merc???

  19. jay sloan says:

    OK people, get over it. I have owned the 7 series bmw, the 6 series bmw and the 500 Benz. My 2008 audi a8l sport is the nicest by far. You must drive one to understand my sentiments. The new 7 series bmw is the ugliest car I’ve ever seen. The front is horrid and the back is stolen from the LS 460 lexus. The new 550 benz looks like a E class coming towards you. They need to redesign the Benz to set the 550 appart from the rest of the smaller models. Go drive an Audi. You’ll love the 4 wheel drive feel and will be glad you have it in the winter, especially if you live up north.

  20. Jay Sloan says:

    in response to Lance… I guess you cant compare Bugatti or Lambo’s or Porche either because VW owns all of them. You’ve probably never owned the 7 series and felt the problems with that stupid I drive system or the speakers failing, or the cooling system failing, or the excessive wiring problems.. and dont get me started on Mercedes Benz. I had the CL 500 flagship Mercedes and it was in the shop more than it was on the road. Time to face reality, Audi has come a long way and is now every bit as nice as the BMW’s or Benz and in my opinion, better. Coming from a connoisseur

    • Lance says:

      I have driven the 7 and A8 and S, but not owned any of them. The difference is that you will not see VW parts and Logos in a Lambo, Porsche or Bugatti. It is different for a VW, take the engine cover off and feast your eyes on those engine parts with VW logos. Yes, Audi has come a long way in bringing their costs down by putting in low costs items. So you can help them make some nice profit by them selling you a sub premium product. I’d stick to originl, pedigree and premium products, thank you. P.S. The A8 interior is so boring and dated that it does not match that of the new 7. So enjoy the A8, which has come a long way in its production cycle, a product from the past.

  21. wagarden says:

    I have owned a 1984 BMW 318i, an 89 BMW 325i Convertible, a 96 BMW 740iL, a 2000 BMW 740iL Sport, an 89 Mercedes Benz 300SEL and a 2002 Audi A8L. In my humble opinion, the 89 Mercedes Benz is a very solid built car. Better than any of the BMW’s and it rivals the 2002 Audi A8L.
    The Audi is the better handling and cornering car overall with its full time all wheel drive and lighter weight aluminum frame. However, if you want a car that rides great and holds its own in handling for a tank, then nothing compares to the big beefy Mercedes.

    • Doug says:

      “for a tank”? removing that qualification, how does it actually compare against the the non-tank A8L? Or do you mean that the tank-like quality is a feeling of security and stability?

  22. Wes says:

    I own a 2005 Audi A8, that car can compete with a 7 a far a performance, I have driven 2002 to 2007 7s and I just feel really disconnected with the car, it dosent invole you in the performance. i am very proud of VW/Audi in stepping up to the plate with these other overrated vehicles.

  23. abdul basit says:

    cool car audi

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