BMW 320 vs. Mercedes-Benz CLA250

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Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - April 27, 2015

Luxury sedans were once reserved for upper-class buyers, but with demand now rising for luxurious cars in the low-$30,000 range, both BMW and Mercedes have begun releasing less expensive four-door cars.

For Mercedes-Benz, this low-priced sedan is the CLA250, a four-door coupe that debuted to massive fanfare. BMW has the 320i, which is a more traditionally styled sedan that lowered the cost of entry to Bavarian performance.

Both models have their own distinct personalities. The front-wheel drive CLA250 offers a sporty look and a low starting price, while the 320i delivers traditional rear-wheel drive and more sedan-style roominess. But which of these new budget-friendly luxury sedans is the better buy?

See a side-by-side comparison of the 320 & CLA250 »

What the CLA250 Gets Right

The CLA250 starts with a nice pricing advantage, as it checks in at only $31,500, undercutting the 320i by $1,450. Under the hood, the CLA250 wins the power war too, thanks to its 208-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Additionally, its 26 mpg city and 38 mpg highway in its standard setup, and 24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined with its 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system beat out the 320i.

The CLA250 also wins in terms of design, as some buyers may prefer its sleek coupe-like profile that also provides easy access to the rear seats thanks to its four doors. Additionally, the CLA250 comes standard with a 12-way power driver’s seat, sports front seats, Bluetooth audio streaming, and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

See more luxury sedan comparisons here »

What the 320i Gets Right

Though the 320i is way down on power, it is only slightly slower than the CLA250 (0.2 seconds slower to 60 mph) and its rear-wheel-drive setup delivers a visceral driving experience. Additionally, the 320i’s more tradition sedan look gives it an advantage in terms of cabin room. The rear seats are particularly roomier, as they offer 8 inches more rear legroom, 2.3 inches more headroom, and 1.9 inches more shoulder room.

The 320i also has some extra goodies like a nine-speaker audio system and brake energy regeneration. Additionally, the 320i has a superior ride quality to the more sports-tuned CLA250.

Who Buys the CLA250?

The CLA250 is closely matched to the 320i, and it definitely has a place in the market. The CLA250 is best suited for childless young adults and middle-aged folks due to its cramped rear seat and somewhat rough suspension. For these buyers, the CLA250 is a great buy, but for most luxury-car buyers, it simply cannot hold up to the Bimmer.

Verdict: BMW 320i

Though the BMW 320i has fewer few features, is slightly slower, and is a little more expensive than the CLA250, its ride quality and family friendly rear seat make it a better all-around luxury sedan.

Take a closer look at the BMW 320 »

Take a closer look at the Mercedes-Benz CLA250 »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website