Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2015 BMW 3 Series VS 2015 Mercedes CLA-Class Near Phoenix, AZ

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2015 BMW 3 Series

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2015 Mercedes CLA-Class

Safety Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The CLA-Class doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The 3 Series Sedan has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The CLA-Class doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) offers an optional Side and Top View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The CLA-Class only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the CLA-Class have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and available all wheel drive.

Warranty Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 8 years and unlimited miles longer than the CLA-Class’ (12/unlimited vs. 4/50,000).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 4 years and 50,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mercedes doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the CLA-Class.

There are over 12 percent more BMW dealers than there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the 3 Series Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability Comparison

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without their vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports predicts that the BMW 3 Series Sedan 2WD 320i/328i’s reliability will be 118% better than the CLA-Class and the BMW 3 Series Sedan Diesel will be 156% better than the CLA-Class.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2014 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 13th.

Engine Comparison

The 328i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 32 more horsepower (240 vs. 208) than the CLA-Class’ 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The 335i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 92 more horsepower (300 vs. 208) and 42 lbs.-ft. more torque (300 vs. 258) than the CLA-Class’ 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The ActiveHybrid 3’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. hybrid produces 127 more horsepower (335 vs. 208) and 72 lbs.-ft. more torque (330 vs. 258) than the CLA-Class’ 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

The 3 Series Sedan’s 2.0 turbo diesel produces 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 258) than the CLA-Class’ 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Road & Track the BMW 3 Series Sedan is faster than the Mercedes CLA250 (automatics tested):




Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

4.9 sec

6.5 sec

Quarter Mile

13.9 sec

13.5 sec

14.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99.5 MPH

103.8 MPH

96.4 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the 328d gets better fuel mileage than the CLA250:

3 Series Sedan




32 city/45 hwy

26 city/38 hwy



31 city/43 hwy

24 city/33 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The CLA-Class doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The 3 Series Sedan ActiveHybrid/diesel’s standard fuel tank has 1.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the CLA-Class (15 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The 3 Series Sedan’s standard fuel tank has 2.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the CLA-Class (15.8 vs. 13.2 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the 335i’s brake rotors are larger than those on the CLA-Class:



Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

11.6 inches

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the CLA-Class are solid, not vented.

The 3 Series Sedan stops shorter than the CLA-Class:

3 Series Sedan


60 to 0 MPH

107 feet

114 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 255/35R19 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the CLA-Class’ optional 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 3 Series Sedan offers optional 19-inch wheels. The CLA-Class’ largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The CLA-Class’ suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 3 Series Sedan’s wheelbase is 4.3 inches longer than on the CLA-Class (110.6 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the 3 Series Sedan is 1.1 inches wider in the rear than on the CLA-Class.

The 3 Series Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (49.9% to 50.1%) than the CLA-Class’ (61% to 39%). This gives the 3 Series Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The 320i handles at .95 G’s, while the CLA250 pulls only .92 G’s of cornering force in a Road & Track skidpad test.

The 335i xDrive executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the CLA250 (25.6 seconds @ .75 average G’s vs. 26.4 seconds @ .69 average G’s).

Chassis Comparison

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the 328i is quieter than the CLA250:

3 Series Sedan


At idle

40 dB

43 dB


71 dB

76 dB

70 MPH Cruising

66 dB

70 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the 3 Series Sedan is rated a Compact car by the EPA, while the CLA-Class is rated a Subcompact.

The 3 Series Sedan has 18 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CLA-Class (96 vs. 78).

The 3 Series Sedan has 2.1 inches more front headroom, 1.8 inches more front legroom, 2.3 inches more rear headroom, 8 inches more rear legroom and 1.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the CLA-Class.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the 3 Series Sedan’s available trunk can be opened just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The CLA-Class doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Ergonomics Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) offers an available heads-up display which projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts onto the windshield, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The CLA-Class doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the 3 Series Sedan to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The CLA-Class doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 3 Series Sedan offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The CLA-Class doesn’t offer headlight washers.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The CLA-Class doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the 3 Series Sedan offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The CLA-Class doesn’t offer cornering lights. The 3 Series Sedan also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The CLA-Class doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the CLA-Class offer optional heated front seats. The 3 Series Sedan also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the CLA-Class.

On extremely cold Winter days, the 3 Series Sedan’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The CLA-Class doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The 3 Series Sedan has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The CLA-Class doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

Recommendations Comparison

The BMW 3 Series Sedan has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

3 Series Sedan


Consumer Reports® Recommends



Car Book “Best Bet”



Road & Track performed a comparison test in its June 2014 issue and the BMW 320i won out over the Mercedes CLA250.

The 3 Series was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 20 of the last 21 years. The CLA-Class has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 3 Series was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 13 of the last 19 years. The CLA-Class has never been an “All Star.”

The 3 Series was selected by Automobile Magazine as their 2006 Car of the Year. The CLA-Class has never been chosen.

The BMW 3 and 4 Series outsold the Mercedes CLA-Class by almost five to one during the 2014 model year.

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