The recent addition of Mercedes-Benz’s CLA class gives buyers another luxury car option in the form of a coupe. At the entry level, the CLA is about $10,000 cheaper than the C-Class; but starting at $64,900, the CLA 250 model competes more directly with the C-Class coupe. Of course, the term “competes” is used loosely here, as both vehicles are made by Mercedes-Benz. If you’re wondering how this newcomer to the Mercedes-Benz family stacks up against the popular C-Class, read on.
Exterior and Styling
The CLA offers a different look that some might find more attractive than the C-Class. While the C-Class has a twin-bar grille, the CLA has just a single bar with a more eye-catching diamond radiator. Though the CLA is slightly longer, wider, and taller than the C-Class coupe, it still has the sleeker and sportier look. 18″ alloy wheels come standard on both models, but the CLA has a few more wheel styles available than the C-Class.
Interior and Comfort
Made with quality materials throughout and now featuring a less cluttered dashboard, the C-Class’s interior is a pleasure to bask in. The CLA doesn’t offer quite the same level of refinement, but like the outside, the inside has a sportier look and feel with the red seat belts, stainless steel-brushed sports pedals, and front sport seats with electric leather. In the comfort department, the C-Class sedan has a leg up due to having seats that are a bit more comfortable. The COMAND entertainment system comes standard on the C-Class but is an upgrade on the CLA; however, adding this option gives you a slightly bigger display screen than what you’ll find in the C-Class. Recently, Mercedes-Benz came out with an Estate version of the CLA that offers more head room and leg room as well as more boot space, and this version comes in at more than $10,000 cheaper than the lowest-priced C-Class Estate model.
Under the Hood
At 155 kW, the CLA 250 has a slightly more powerful engine than the more expensive C 250 petrol-engine coupe, making for a 0-100 Km/hr acceleration time that’s 0.6 seconds faster than the C-Class’s time of 7.2 seconds. And consuming 6 litres per 100 Km, the CLA 250 is also more fuel efficient than the C 250, which goes through 6.9 litres. While the C 250 is an automatic rear-wheel drive, the CLA is a four-wheel drive automatic dual clutch.
On the Road
The CLA offers a firm, comfortable ride and a pleasing exhaust noise to boot. It also handles well on slippery roads due to the four-wheel drive system. The downside, though, is that bumps from driving over road imperfections are felt throughout the cabin, and wind and road noise penetrates the cabin easily. Though not as pronounced, the C-Class suffers from the former issue, but not the latter. Though it doesn’t get up and go quite like the CLA, it offers outstanding handling and is also quite agile.
Both coupes offer many of the same safety features including Attention Assist, Brake Assist, and Parktronic system complete with parking sensors and guidance. Lane-keep and blind-spot assist are options on both, as is Brake Assist Plus. The only significant difference is that the CLA isn’t equipped with Adaptive High-Beam Assist, which automatically switches from high to low beams when oncoming traffic is within range. Conversely, the C-Class doesn’t have the CLA’s stylish bi-xenon headlamps, which offer clearer and wider illumination that typical headlamps.
Value and Verdict
There isn’t really a clear-cut winner when comparing these two coupes. The C-Class offers a higher level of interior refinement and a quieter and slightly smoother ride, while the CLS is a sportier car with a more powerful and more fuel-efficient engine. It basically comes down to what you prefer in these areas and how much you are willing to spend. The C-Class price tag is $59,900-$99,430, while the CLA price tag is more affordable at $50,900-$88,400.
One other item of note is that the C-Class has an optional Sport upgrade to the 250 that makes it look even more like the CLA inside and out.