Pros: "Premium feel, great price, oustanding economy."
Cons: "Less performance, tight rear seating."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"A lot of what you read out there is this car versus another car that is not in its class. You cannot fairly compare this car to, say, a BMW 320 or a Mercedes C300. This is a compact luxury coupe that happens to have 4 doors. It is not a closer to mid-sized sedan like the ones mentioned above. Keep that in mind when you read peoples reviews.
The CLA250 is in a niche (test) market. The only real direct competitors at this time are the Acura ILX, BMW 228, and Audi A3. The BMW 228 is a 2 door, so that isn't exactly the same class. Nevertheless, these cars are aimed at people that want a lower price point luxury vehicle with great fuel economy and smaller dimensions. Lexus, Infiniti, etc., don't make a competitor vehicle. Maybe you could throw in maxed out Altima's, Camry's, and Accord's, but that would be a stretch to call those luxury vehicles.
Having said all that, the CLA 250 is a fantastic car in its class. The interior feels very premium at this price point. The console layout is great and feels like modern premium. Its well thought out and has all the right touches one would expect in a luxury vehicle. The BMW feels antiquated by comparison, while the Audi is just plain terrible. The Acura ILX actually has the next best console/cockpit layout and feel after the CLA250.
The front seating on all four cars are what one would expect in a compact luxury car. If you are much taller than average, you will feel cramped. For people of average height and lower, there is plenty of comfort and room to be had. None are the clear winner in this respect. You will just have to experience each of them and judge for yourself. In our opinion, the MB power seating controls, seat heating, and other minor nuances, are what place it at the top.
The rear seating on all four cars is cramped, even for a compact car. Again, there isn't a clear winner here. Taller adults will struggle to get comfortable back there. MB does give the back seating some nice touches, though, that are absent or just not as nice on others. Overall, MB gives the rear seating more of the premium treatment than others.
Performance is best on the BMW. It is the sportiest, quickest, turns the best, and so on. This may not be supported by test reports, but that is how it feels compared to the others. MB has the best ride, although, it is not great by any measure. Your best bet is the get the 17 inch wheels if comfort is on your mind. The 18 inch wheels do make it sportier and turn better, but you get more road feedback.
The CLA 250 gets top marks in the economy battle outside of the Audi A3 Diesel (which is a $3000 option). Nothing much to say here. 26 city / 38 highway is outstanding for a car that also can do 0-60mph in about 6 seconds.
The MSRP price of the CLA250 was the second best after the Acura ILX when compared to similarly equipped vehicles. We found that MB was the most willing to negotiate savings off the MSRP (during the Summer), though, and also gave the most for our trade. Acura and BMW wouldn't budge below 4% under MSRP, and that was on their loaner cars. Audi wasn't willing to go more than 6% under MSRP. MB was offering 10% off MSRP without even trying on any in stock brand new car. MB offered us at least $1000 more for the trade, too. The overall deal was clearly the best amongst these four cars.
Overall, you just cant beat what Mercedes put together on the CLA250. It really comes down to preference, though. Some would rather sacrifice the premium for more sport. Some would rather sacrifice economy for more rear seat room. It really is in the eye of the beholder. For everything we valued, the CLA250 was the runaway winner, with no real close second. If we had to rank them, it would be MB CLA250 in front, followed by Acura ILX, BMW 228 and Audi A3. The Acura is perhaps the bang for your buck leader after the CLA250. If you can find the right dealer at the right time, you may be able to get a better deal on it versus the CLA250. BMW is the clear sport luxury leader, where the emphasis is on sport. The performance is outstanding for a vehicle in this class. Audi is dead last. It is not a very good vehicle at all. The console/cockpit is atrocious. That alone is enough to walk on by. The ride is bad, the economy is sub-par, and the list goes on. I would be happy to own the CLA250, ILX or 228, as they are all great vehicles in their own way. I would pass on the Audi A3."
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