Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2017 Mercedes Benz CLA VS 2017 BMW 3 Near Scottsdale, AZ

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2017 Mercedes Benz CLA

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2017 BMW 3

Safety Comparison

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes CLA have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The BMW 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes CLA are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Active Brake Assist in the CLA as “Superior.” The 3 Series Sedan scores at most only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

The CLA’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the CLA and the 3 Series Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, available all wheel drive, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear parking sensors.

Warranty Comparison

There are over 11 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are BMW dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the CLA’s warranty.

Reliability Comparison

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2016 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 14th.

Engine Comparison

The CLA’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 28 more horsepower (208 vs. 180) and 58 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 200) than the 320i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Road and Track the Mercedes CLA250 is faster than the 320i (automatics tested):



3 Series

Zero to 60 MPH

6.1 sec

6.8 sec

Quarter Mile

14.6 sec

15.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

97 MPH

88.9 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the CLA FWD gets better fuel mileage than the 3 Series Sedan:




3 Series





23 city/35 hwy





21 city/32 hwy





19 city/29 hwy





23 city/35 hwy




24 city/36 hwy

23 city/34 hwy





21 city/32 hwy


Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the CLA’s standard front brake rotors are larger than those on the 3 Series Sedan:



3 Series Sedan

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

12.3 inches

The CLA stops much shorter than the 3 Series Sedan:



3 Series Sedan


80 to 0 MPH

211 feet

225 feet

Road and Track

70 to 0 MPH

159 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

114 feet

124 feet

Road and Track

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

141 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels Comparison

The CLA250’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 3 Series Sedan’s standard 50 series tires.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the CLA can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. Run-flat tires aren’t available on some tire packages on the 3 Series Sedan.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The CLA250 handles at .92 G’s, while the 340i pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the CLA’s turning circle is 1.1 feet tighter than the 3 Series Sedan’s (36 feet vs. 37.1 feet). The CLA’s turning circle is 2.4 feet tighter than the 3 Series Sedan xDrive’s (36 feet vs. 38.4 feet).

Chassis Comparison

The design of the Mercedes CLA amounts to more than styling. The CLA has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .28 Cd. That is lower than the 3 Series Sedan (.28 to .29) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the CLA get better fuel mileage.

As tested by Car and Driver while cruising at 70 MPH, the interior of the CLA250 4MATIC is quieter than the 340i xDrive (67 vs. 70 dB).

Ergonomics Comparison

The CLA has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

Unlike the driver-only memory system optional at extra cost in the 3 Series Sedan, the CLA has standard driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The CLA’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

Consumer Reports rated the CLA’s headlight performance “Fair,” a higher rating than the 3 Series Sedan’s headlights, which were rated “Poor.”

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the CLA has standard extendable sun visors. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Economic Advantages Comparison

Insurance will cost less for the CLA owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the CLA with a number “3” insurance rate while the 3 Series Sedan is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the CLA is less expensive to operate than the 3 Series Sedan because typical repairs cost much less on the CLA than the 3 Series Sedan, including $241 less for a water pump, $27 less for an alternator, $89 less for front brake pads, $90 less for front struts, $866 less for a timing belt/chain and $153 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations Comparison

J.D. Power and Associates rated the CLA second among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The 3 Series Sedan was rated third in its category.

Strategic Vision rates overall owner satisfaction with vehicle quality. The Mercedes CLA is ranked first in the Near-Luxury Car category. The BMW 3 Series Sedan is ranked below average. The CLA received the 2015 “Total Quality Award.”

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