Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 C117 vs Audi A3 1.4 Sedan

2014 Drive-My

Twin test – Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 C117 vs Audi A3 1.4 Sedan. Should you wait for the CLA? That’s the question we are asking because the new Audi A3 sedan is launching first in USA/GB and may be cheaper than the Mercedes CLA. Looking for a premium sedan in the compact class? You want a full-size sedan, with four doors and a decent boot? There aren’t many options available yet, but a couple will be launching this year, and really beautiful ones at that. The debate over which one is the better looking between the CLA and A3 sedan is futile. The A3 pleases with its polished, unfussy shape, while the smooth lines of the CLA make it look like the shrunken version of the CLS. We do not want to argue on looks as you can decide for yourself, but on the most important factor here, value.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 C117 vs Audi A3 1.4 Sedan

Audi isn’t really known for its affordable cars, but the A3 surprisingly costs 6,176 euros less in Germany than a similarly specced CLA, which is a substantial difference. We expect the same story to be carried forward in USA. The A3 here is the 1.4 TFSI Ambition model with 140bhp and costs 27,400 euros. The excellent sport seats and the 17in wheels come as options though. The Ambition comes standard with a sports suspension, which can be replaced without additional charge for the dynamic suspension, which we believe will be standard in USA and GB.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 C117 vs Audi A3 1.4 Sedan

The Mercedes CLA 200 C117 Urban with 156bhp costs 33,421 euros. Here, one can exchange the standard sport suspension for a comfort suspension. In addition, we expect the standard 18in wheels to be re-placed with 17in ones along with the comfort suspension setup. The price includes leather seats, which should come as standard in USA and England.

Anyone who believes that he will get more features on the Mercedes, hopes in vain. You get the essentials for both, but there are only minor differences. The Audi A3 has fog lights standard for that price, but for the Mercedes they cost extra. For the Audi an adjustable suspension with adaptive dampers can be had as an option, while it is not available for the CLA.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 C117 - interior

Cabin space is also an important area of debate. At the front, the Audi already has some advantages. It is a touch wider and has more headroom. The Mercedes has limited rear headroom, thanks to its sloping shape at the back.

Even the A3 falls prey to the sloping roofline as headroom in the rear is limited. Both notchbacks collect plus points with their large boots. The A3 can swallow 425 litres and the CLA 470 litres. Also, the Audi impresses with its exceptional level of interior quality. Every-thing feels amazingly meticulous, and the high-quality materials seem to be carefully chosen.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 C117 vs Audi A3 1.4 Sedan

The CLA С117 is powered by a slightly grumpy 1.6-litre. It develops 156bhp, but feels livelier and is more powerful than the Audi. However, consumption is on the higher side, at 14.70kmpl. The Audi on the other hand delivers 16.39kmpl. Its smooth- running 1.4-litre TFSI comes with cylinder-on-demand technology. This means that under certain conditions the second and third cylinders can be shut down.

In terms of handling the A3 feels pretty tight, when com-pared with the CLA and also more balanced. The CLA is more sensitive though taking sharp corners rather coarsely, jolting the occupants.




The Audi runs rings around the Mercedes. Each specific area reveals how far behind the CLA actually is from the A3 barring the boot space it offers and the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, which is more powerful of the two in this comparison. It means, that it isn’t just the price that is the deciding factor in this test. Without a doubt, Audi has delivered a very solid product.


Radios standard, expensive satnav

A CD audio with 2.5in display is standard on the Audi. The MMI gets a 5.8in screen. The best part of the Audi is the retractable screen. The MMI touch has an input pad for writing as well. Audi also has integrated a SIM card for net access. The Mercedes too has a CD system. Mercedes may do away with the Navigation Comand Online to keep costs low, but the advantage is that it comes with a seven-inch display. SIM card, though, is not integrated for internet access and one has to connect one’s phone for internet access.

Audi A3 Bluetooth interface and MMI radio are great and work well on the Audi.

Mercedes CLA Bluetooth (with audio streaming) is here. The photo shows the seven inch screen of the large navigation system.


Audi A3 Sedan 1.4 TFSI COD Ambition – first place

Audi has confidently solved the difficult task of constructing a coherent and compact sedan. The A3 sedan is spacious and comfortable with great handling, a modern engine and high-quality materials, and of course its an attractive looking car.

Audi A3 One thing you can be sure of about Audis is that no one in the business builds better cockpits. Retractable monitor, sophisticated air vents, plush leather seats and fine plastic all over the dash are nothing short of top class.

Audi A3 Sedan

Straight forward and pleasing: The rear fits harmoniously to the A3

Audi Looks even better, as there is a little more air over the head


Mercedes CLA 200 Urban – second place

The Mercedes is not only more expensive than the A3, it is also inferior to the Audi in almost all measurable categories, apart from the larger boot and a more powerful engine, which makes it go faster. It will still find buyers, thanks to its striking design.

Mercedes CLA The CLA has a much lower seating position than the Audi, though, the cockpit is massive it has rather small windows. Build quality is good, but unlike the Audi the monitor is fixed. The material quality feels a bit inferior.

Mercedes CLA The two square tailpipes look a bit odd. Yes, the view of the rear isn’t all that pretty.

Mercedes The man (1.92m) just smiles despite the tight fit.



Vehicle data


Audi A3 Sedan

Mercedes-Benz CLA200 C117

Engine build type/Cylinder positioning

4-cyl, turbo, transverse

4-cyl, turbo, transverse


4 per cylinder/2

4 per cylinder/2

Camshaft drive

Drive belt











Top speed




Six-gear manual

Six-gear manual




Brake front/rear



Test car tyres

225/45 R 17 Y

225/45 R 17 W

Tyre type

Dunlop Sport Maxx RT

Michelin Primacy HP

Wheel size

7.5J x 17in

7.5J x 17in

Emission CO2

111 g/km

127 g/km


5.9/4.2/4.8 l

7.4/4.4/5.5 l

Tank capacity/fuel type

50 l/Super

50 l/Super

In cabin noise (100 kmph)

70dB (A)

74dB (A)

Towing capacity



Boot space

425 litres

470 litres


4456/1,796-1,960/ 1,416 mm

4630/1,777-2,023/ 1,432 mm

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