Mercedes-Benz already has a compact saloon in its range: the CLA. So when it unveiled the new A-Class Sedan a few days ago in Beijing, we couldn’t help but wonder where it does fit in Merc’s ziggurat, given that it’s also a front-wheel drive saloon with compact dimensions.
Before we embark on comparing the two, here’s a few words about the A-Class L Sedan.
The “L” is a China-only version, which means that once it arrives in other markets, it will likely drop the ‘L’ designation and shave a few inches off its wheelbase, too. Do we know this for sure? Well, no, but the current CLA and the previous-generation A-Class hatchback had identical wheelbases, measuring 2,699 mm (106.25 inches). We’ll get into more measurements a little bit later on though.
For now, let’s start with the first thing that comes to mind with regards to both the A-Class L Sedan as well as the CLA: their styling.
The Current CLA Actually Looks Sportier
Say what you will about the CLA, but there was no way you’ll mistake it for anything else within Mercedes‘ range. Some called it a mini-CLS, but there are hardly any CLS design elements on it. Apart, that is, from the overall 4-door Coupe theme shared by both models.
Sure, the CLA shared some of the previous-gen A-Class’ features, like the front grille, bonnet shape and interior, but it was otherwise a surprisingly original design for Mercedes-Benz, one that has proven very popular across the globe.
Park it next to the all-new A-Class L Sedan, even virtually, and all the minor differences become instantly noticeable. The A-Class Sedan has a fresher styling, while its roof line isn’t as sloped, the shoulder line is more straight and the rear end design is more streamlined.
In the end though, we wouldn’t blame anybody for looking at these cars and thinking to themselves: “I might as well just flip a coin.”
We’ll Take The New Interior Every Day And Twice On Sundays
It’s hard to argue against the A-Class Sedan’s floating infotainment display as being a lot better looking than anything you might get in a CLA as of right now.
The latter doesn’t come with turbine-like air vents or up to 64-colors for the ambient lighting system, nor does it have the MBUX multimedia system with voice control, speech recognition and AI capabilities. What the CLA does have is the dashboard design from the old A-Class, with a somewhat questionable built quality in certain areas, at least by Mercedes-Benz standards.
After 2016, Mercedes did give the CLA new upholstery options and trims, as well as chrome-plated controls. Meanwhile, its freestanding 8-inch infotainment display was slimmer. Still, it doesn’t compare to what you get inside the A-Class Sedan.
Another comparison involves all the new safety tech available on the A-Class Sedan. The facelifted CLA can brag about its Active Brake Assist or its Hands Free Access system all it wants, but the A-Class is clearly superior thanks to its Active Distance Assist, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Lane Change Assist or its PRE-SAFE Plus function. We’re not sure if all these systems will be available on the Chinese model, but in other markets, the A-Class Sedan should feature the same tech as the all-new 5-door hatchback.
The New Sedan Has Powertrain Superiority
Outside of China, the A-Class Sedan should share most, if not all, of the hatchback’s powertrains. With that in mind, we can anticipate two petrol models for the A 200 and A 250, the former with 163 PS (160 HP) and 250 Nm (184 lb-ft) of torque and the latter with 224 PS (221 HP) and 350 Nm (258 lb-ft), plus an A 180d diesel variant with 116 PS (114 HP) and 260 Nm (191 lb-ft).
Chinese buyers will only be able to choose, at least at first, between a 1.33-liter four-pot with outputs of 136 PS (134 HP) and 163 PS (160 HP), the latter being designated as the A 200 L Sedan.
The older CLA still gets by with slightly less efficient and generally bigger engines, at least with regards to diesels, as the CLA 200d and 220d’s unit has a 2.2-liter displacements.
Yes, You’ll Be Less Comfortable In The Back Of A CLA
Remember how we told you that both the CLA as well as the old A-Class 5-door had an identical, 2,699 mm (106.25 in) wheelbase? In the new 5-door A-Class it has grown to 2,729 mm (107.4 in), which means that the regular Sedan model will get it too, resulting in more room for rear-seat passengers than in the CLA.
The L’s wheelbase, on the other hand, is even more generous, at 2,789 mm (109.8 in),, while the carmeasures 4,609 mm (181.4 in) in length, 1,796 mm (70.7 in) in width and stands 1,460 mm (57.4 in) tall, with a boot capacity of 420 liters (14.8 cu.ft). Curiously, the CLA’s boot is bigger at 470 liters (16.6 cu.ft).
The Upcoming CLA Successor Should Clarify Things
We’re very curious to see if the next-generation CLA will share the same front fascia as the all-new A-Class and A-Class Sedan. At least we know the rear end styling will be different, and it might resemble the new CLS, but in any case the design will fit the four-door coupe formula.
Now, if you were to put yourselves in the shoes of a CLA customer, would you still buy one, wait for the A-Class Sedan or hold out even more for the second-gen CLA?