For those looking for an affordable all-wheel drive luxury sedan, the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 are two of the best options on the market. The new CLA 250 Sport adds 4MATIC technology to its AWD for even better control and road grip, and the A3 offers outstanding grip and control as well with its legendary Quattro AWD system. In short, both have what it takes to handle the worst road conditions. But which one is more suitable to you in terms of price, performance, and other factors? We’ve put together a detailed comparison below to help you find out.
Exterior and Styling
The new A3 has a muscular exterior with dynamic contours. Its bold radiator grille is complemented by stylish headlights with optional full LED. The low roofline flows back to the rear that ends slightly raised rather than sloping down. In contrast, the ‘4 door Coupe’ styled CLA 250 has a more swooping front-to-back design with a smaller yet still bold diamond radiator grille and a sloped rear design. In only its second year of production, the CLA’s dynamic design is popular with the younger generation and first-time Mercedes-Benz buyers.
Interior and Comfort
With a starting price just over $15,000 more expensive than the A3, its no surprise that the CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC is more luxurious inside. Sporty elegance aptly describes the interior, which features leather front sport seats and a leather steering wheel along with stainless steel sports pedals and an aluminum dash panel. Though the seats lack enough under-thigh support, they are comfortable overall. Leg room is adequate in the back, but the sloping roof line limits head room and also reduces field of vision in the front as well as in the back. Likewise, the A3 has a low roofline that limits headroom and visibility. Though not quite a luxurious, the A3 does offer more comfortable seating throughout and more functional controls.
Under the Bonnet
The 1.8 Turbo petrol engine get a slight efficiency upgrade for 2015, down to 6.5 L / 100 Km, which is 0.5 L more than the CLA 250. While the CLA range offers a diesel engine, only the A3 includes diesel in the all-wheel-drive configuration. And although its petrol engine isn’t as powerful (132 kW compared to 155 kW), the A3 is only 0.2 seconds slower (6.6 seconds) from 0-100 Km/hr than the CLA 250.
On the Road
The CLA 250 handles corners and various road conditions impressively, save for some firm slightly bumpy riding over choppy surfaces. With slightly sharper steering and slightly quicker acceleration, its the sportier ride compared to the A3. As responsive as the 250’s engine and transmission can be, the A3’s is even smoother and more responsive. It also handles corners well and is the smoother, quieter ride on all surfaces.
When it comes to safety, the CLA 250 offers more standard features and more features overall. These include ATTENTION ASSIST, COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST, PRE-SAFE, Brake Assist System and reversing camera all standard, with the option of Driving Assistance Package, including; Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Distronic Pus (intelligent cruise control). As far as the A3, standard provides Brake Assist and Active Safety Bonnet and$1,800 more gets you their Assistance Package with lane-departure warning, forward collision warning, forward collision mitigation (high and low speed), intelligent cruise control and high-beam auto dipping.
Value for the Money
Starting at $48,400 (before On-Road-Costs), the Audi A3 price tag is $16,500 cheaper than the CLA 250’s. The COMAND package adds $2,490 to the Mercedes-Benz price tag, but the A3 also has some pricey options including LED headlamps ($2,950) and the Technik Package ($2,990).
Despite the price difference, the A3 still has some advantages over the CLA 250 including a more functional, comfortable interior, more efficient engine, and a smoother, quieter ride. Also the all wheel drive A3 offers more choice in engine and body configurations. For these reasons, we feel that the A3 is the better option here, especially if price is a major consideration for you.