Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2017 BMW M3 VS 2017 Mercedes CLA45 Near Scottsdale, AZ

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2017 BMW M3

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2017 Mercedes CLA45

Safety Comparison

The M3 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 CLA45 doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The M3 offers an optional Side and Top View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The CLA45 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 M3 and the CLA45 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.

Warranty Comparison

The M3’s corrosion warranty is 8 years and unlimited miles longer than the CLA45’s (12/unlimited vs. 4/50,000).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the M3 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mercedes doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the CLA45.

There are over 12 percent more BMW dealers than there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the M3’s warranty.

Reliability Comparison

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2016 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 fifth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 17 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 15th, below the industry average.

Engine Comparison

The M3’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 50 more horsepower (425 vs. 375) and 56 lbs.-ft. more torque (406 vs. 350) than the CLA45’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The M3 Competition Package’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 69 more horsepower (444 vs. 375) and 56 lbs.-ft. more torque (406 vs. 350) than the CLA45’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

The M3 has a gallon more fuel capacity than the CLA45 (15.8 vs. 14.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the M3’s brake rotors are larger than those on the CLA45:


M3 opt.


Front Rotors

15 inches

15.7 inches

13.8 inches

Rear Rotors

14.6 inches

15 inches

13 inches

The M3 offers optional heat-treated ceramic brake rotors, which last ten to twenty times as long as conventional cast iron rotors, don’t rust, don’t fade during repeated high speed braking, and their lighter weight contribute to better braking, handling and acceleration. The CLA45 doesn’t offer ceramic brake rotors.

The M3 stops much shorter than the CLA45:



60 to 0 MPH

99 feet

109 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the M3 has larger standard tires than the CLA45 (F:255/40R18 & R:275/40R18 vs. 235/40R18). The M3 Competition Package’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the CLA45 (F:265/30R20 & R:285/30R20 vs. 235/40R18).

The M3 Competition Package’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 30 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the CLA45’s optional 35 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the M3 Competition Package has standard 20-inch wheels. The CLA45’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the M3’s wheelbase is 4.4 inches longer than on the CLA45 (110.7 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the M3 is 1.3 inches wider in the front and 1.7 inches wider in the rear than on the CLA45.

The M3 handles at 1.01 G’s, while the CLA45 pulls only .96 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The M3 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the CLA45 (24 seconds @ .85 average G’s vs. 24.9 seconds @ .79 average G’s).

Passenger Space Comparison

The M3 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 CLA45.

Ergonomics Comparison

The M3 offers an optional heads-up display which projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The CLA45 doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the M3 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The CLA45 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 M3 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The CLA45 doesn’t offer headlight washers.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the M3 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The CLA45 doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the M3 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The CLA45 doesn’t offer cornering lights. The M3 also has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the M3 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The CLA45 doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The M3 has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the CLA45. The M3 also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the CLA45.

On extremely cold Winter days, the M3’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The CLA45 doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The M3 has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The CLA45 doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

Economic Advantages Comparison

The M3 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The Intellichoice estimates that the M3 will retain 58.7% of its original price after five years, while the CLA45 only retains 52.13%.

Recommendations Comparison

The 3 Series was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 20 of the last 22 years. The CLA45 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 20 years. The CLA45 has never been an “All Star.”

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