2019 Mercedes A-Class Sedan Vs CLA: Just How Different Are They?

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?

Photo Credits: CarPix for CarScoops

  • Soob

    They’re so similar in size, so what’s the point of the CLA?

    • Kash

      TBH I’m betting on different markets, but then again what’s the point of the CLS and E-class sedan in the same market?

      • even more with the AMG GT 4 door, also based on the E class. It seems Sedans are dying, but not for Mercedes.

        • Ary Wisesa

          Sedan will never go away. Its classic and stylish 3-box design is highly suitable for elegant entrance to and departure from vehicle, for upper echelon officials, corporate executives and statesmen. I think it will be very difficult to find the most appropriate body style other than sedan to haul CEOs and world’s leaders to and from their offices or summits. I just can’t imagine a president slide out from an SUV or a wagon, or even a super coupe in official state ceremonies. The Queen of England looks much better when she’s out from her Bentley state limousine than from her Range Rover during state ceremony.

          For the rest of the people though, SUV will rule, because it’s highly practical and spacious, and also can go anywhere (if it’s equipped with 4WD/AWD).

      • Soob

        At least the E and CLS class have more design differences.

  • Six_Tymes

    They are so similar, whats the point of even having the A-Class Sedan? Whichever one it is that has the flat bottom steering wheel, THAT dash is way newer looking in its design over the other. Dash’s that are still using the tacked on look nav monitor, all look outdated to me. The other looks great

    • current CLA is going away and never was a good car. Any replacement would be better.

    • smartacus

      yeah i like that flat bottom steering wheel too

  • Bash

    The older version have a better wheels.

    • but an ugly cheap tablet on the dash, cheap tunning looking mirrors, a lot of bad plastics, never drove as well as the 1 series or A3 unless you had an AMG.

  • chippers

    Thank you for this article – I had really been wondering how these two were supposed to be different. As I suspected they aren’t really very different at all but since they’re sedans as opposed to SUV/CUV’s I won’t complain.

  • BlackPegasus

    Totally senseless to have essentially the same car under two different nomenclatures. Having said that, the A-class is clearly the more tolerable iteration of the two. The CLA just looks nasty inside and out.

  • DJ

    Not really an answer to the question “why both ?” Assuming a shared platform it can be determined that the new CLA would have the same advantages over the current model as the A sedan. In this size class and assuming comparable equipment and performance is the CLA necessary. In the case of the CLS, it offered significant style and equipment over the E class sedan and coupe which were, at the time, more conservative and equipped so as not to encroach on the A class. The CLS as the name implies was considered a step up and more akin to the S class coupe (CL). The CLA never could be considered a step up too the C class or a C class coupe.

    • roy

      I agree. The price point in which these two cars belong are very tight and there are a lot to choose from the other automakers as well. And the only reason to go for the class version of a standard Merc is for the styling, but for me at least the new a class sedan already looks a lot like class and coupe-ish. So I really don’t see the point of both. Plus it can’t go up further because then there is the c class. Man it is really messed up.


    They’re pretty much running into each other.

  • smartacus

    160HP 1.3 is not bad at all.
    Less weight on the nose.

  • driv3r

    A-Class Sedan and CLA have the same positioning as the E-Class and CLS. The sedan always is the roomier, more practical version, the latter the more performance orientated version, more focused and driving dynamics and exterior design (e.g. frameless windows). Not all engines versions will be offered on both cars. There will be enough differentiation between the two cars as well as when it comes to pricing.
    By the way: The CLS actually is a CLE since its the 4-door Coupé version of the E-Class. Just like the GLE is the SUV version of the E-Class. But since CLS was already very well established Mercedes-Benz decided to keep the CLS nameplate.

  • I eat snacks, that’s what I do

    Just dump the CLA. It’s too small to be a practical 4-door sedan.

  • SteersUright

    A class sedan far superior inside and out compared to aging CLA in these pics. However, is there nothing that can be done to better disguise the massive and always-ugly front overhang? Its a design element that ruins the look of any car and makes them visually seem too nose heavy.

  • Enter Ranting

    Ford gets rid of all sedans, Mercedes doubles up on seeds that look the same.

  • BRAVO KHOSI 63///

    it will be pointless to continue with the CLA the A class has more practicality.

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