New Mercedes CLA vs Old CLA vs New A-Class Sedan: Are They All That Different?

Mercedessecond-generation CLA is finally here and while there’s been ongoing criticism regarding how similar of a car it is to the A-Class Sedan, the new CLA should still represent a considerable upgrade when compared to its predecessor.

So if you’re a potential buyer, not only must you now try to figure out if the new model is worth purchasing, but also ask yourself whether you should spend more on it than you would on the A-Class Sedan, a car that packs the same amount of on-board tech as the latest CLA – and which, let’s be honest, looks very alike.

They don’t actually look alike

One issue people have taken with both the new CLA as well as the A-Class Sedan was about whether or not they would look different. The answer to that question is not enough. Both models adhere to MercedesSensual Purity design language, with the all-new CLA featuring slightly more aggressive front, rear and profile styling.

The A-Class Sedan is a little more angular when viewed from the side, and its rear end doesn’t really remind us of any other Mercedes-Benz product. Meanwhile, the CLA does take after the latest CLS when viewed from a rear 3/4 angle, although ironically, it’s the A-Class Sedan’s front end that ultimately resembles that of the much more expensive CLS.

Meanwhile, the old CLA, while definitely showing its age on the inside, remains a reasonably stylish four-door Coupe. Saying that it looks old would probably be inaccurate, although it definitely doesn’t have all the sharp lines and creases of the newer car.

An inside look

From the driver’s seat, there’s very little to separate the new CLA from the A-Class Sedan. It’s the same dashboard, same on-board tech, same dual-screen setup and probably the same build quality too, although Mercedes will definitely attempt to make the new CLA’s cabin stand out somehow (better entry-level specs etc), seen as how they’ve already confirmed that it will be priced higher than the A-Class Sedan.

The old CLA? Well, that’s a whole different story. This new model is 48 mm (1.9 inches) longer and 53 mm (2.0 inches) wider than its predecessor, while the wheelbase has also grown by some 30 mm (1.18 inches), so it should be more comfortable. It also comes with a lot of extra on-board goodies, and after driving the latest A-Class ourselves, we saw how massively improved its cabin was compared to the old car – and as you know, the old A-Class and first-gen CLA had nearly identical interiors, apart from the upper door panels and a few other minor details.

So there you have it. In the end, the real winner here is the compact premium saloon segment, which is where the all-new CLA belongs, despite its ‘Coupe’ moniker. Other modern competitors, aside from the A-Class Sedan, include the Audi A3 Sedan and the upcoming BMW 2-Series Gran Coupe.

  • Stephen G

    Very Chrysler 200

    • Arthur

      I never thought of the 200 but I can see some of the resemblance. Overall though I do like the new A-Class more than the new CLA from pretty much every angle. If the new A-Class starts in the low 30s, expect the CLA to move closer to 40K which makes it a proper contender against an A3 and BMW doesn’t have a 4 door in this sector, in the US that is.

    • Merc1

      No it isn’t. It will never be mistaken for one on the road.


      • Stephen G

        I’m sure it won’t…that’s why they put that 500mm diameter emblem in the grille.

        • Merc1

          Even without that It won’t be. They look nothing alike.


          • Сафиуллина-Мохамед Рамазанов

            Honestly I like the A sedan much more than the CLA

            Which makes me thinking if there’s any business case for both cars

            I think they will never offer both in the same market either A or CLA

  • Sybill Julian

    Man.. I don’t know it’s the angle or the rear-end is just too high from the ground

    • ImNachoLover

      Going by these photos, it’s definitely higher than the previous CLA and A.

  • Merc1

    The new A, CLA, new GLB, and redesigned GLA will do major business for MB in the U.S. The quality is much better (per reviewers) and the tech is class leading. More importantly the new A drives much better than the current CLA which bodes well for the new CLA, GLA and the future star of the lineup, the GLB crossover. Look for the GLB to easily become the best selling member of the FWD based vehicles due to the current crossover madness. The ones to have will be the AMG-lite, “35” models with 300hp. If MBUSA gets the pricing right, they will sell every one of them. The “45” models will be awesome with 400+ hp, but pricey.


  • alexxx

    I thought A-class sedan WAS the CLA?!
    What do I know….

  • LJ

    Not sure why, but the all digital gauges/nav screen makes the interior look cheaper, to me.

  • Christian Wimmer

    I would leave the new A-Class Sedan out of this comparison since it’s a completely different car. The original CLA was an A-Class Sedan, but now it seems to have come into a class of its own.

    In that regard, the new CLA has the original model beat in all areas. I am basing this claim on the fact that it’s closely related to the new A-Class (which I own and which is a very impressive car). The new CLA just blows the original model away in all areas.

    That being said, I never hated the original CLA. It may have been a bit of a half-hearted effort, but it wasn’t a bad car. It was perhaps a bad Mercedes, but not a bad car. And before settling on the new A-Class I was seriously considering purchasing a second hand CLA Shooting Brake – which being half a meter longer than my then-2007 BMW 118i wouldn’t fit into my apartment parking slot. Can you believe that!?

  • Toronado_II

    Too close to one other. If I have to choose, it will be the old CLA.

  • sidewaysspin

    Suddenly the interior of the previous generation looks really old.

    • alexxx

      It is old…

    • Yavor

      It’s very old and lazy!

  • MultiKdizzle

    Q60 tailights on the new CLA!

  • Jason Panamera

    I still think that CLA should differ more from A class sedan.

  • Big Black Duck

    I”d rather buy a Honda Accord

  • Ary Wisesa

    The 1st gen CLA design is the best in my opinion. It’s sexy, original, and artistically sculpted. The 2nd gen CLA suffer the same fate with the 2nd gen CLS. After the excellent 1st gen CLS which was quite groundbreaking & inventive, the 2nd gen lost its charm and made Mercedes looked trying too much, and the 3rd gen CLS makes it even worse.

    And now the new CLA looks exactly like shrinked CLS. Just take away its big three-pointed star and grille, replace it with any logo, and you get whatever car brand you like. That’s how bad Mercedes has lost its signature design.

  • erly5

    A-Class saloon for me!

  • Stephen G

    Yeah! LOL!

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