BMW 2-Series Gran Coupe Vs. Mercedes CLA Coupe: Design, Performance, Interior And Tech

While sedans aren’t as popular nowadays as they used to be, stylish four-door models with sloped rooflines and sporty exteriors are still in pretty high demand, especially if they hail from established premium automakers.

So what do you do if something like a Mercedes A-Class Sedan or an Audi A3 isn’t exciting enough for you? Well, you can either opt for Mercedes-Benz‘s all-new CLA or it’s recently-unveiled nemesis, the 2020 BMW 2-Series Gran Coupe.

The latter will be sold in North America, among other global markets, and is based on the front-wheel drive 1-Series hatchback, even though its design is very different. Is it better looking than the CLA though? Let’s start with that.

An easy decision, right?

The fact that the 2-Series Gran Coupe and the CLA are so different aesthetically should mean that buyers have a straightforward decision to make: you either like Mercedes’ design language, or BMW’s. One issue we have is that both models look like something that’s been shrunk too much, which is true in a sense.

To make matters worse, both cars are based on front-wheel drive hatchbacks and in the case of the 2-Series GC, the end result is a little bulkier than some BMW fans might have wanted. In fact, that front end looks pretty bloated and despite the fastback-like rear, the trunk lid opening is typical of a 4-door sedan – which is fine since it’s the same for the CLA; but then why give the 2 GC a fastback body?

Also, see how the front and rear doors on the CLA are roughly the same length? It’s that type of uniformity that pleases the eye. With the BMW, you have an almost ridiculously small rear door, which aside from impeding access, also looks a bit too quirky.

Is there such a thing as too compact?

The Mercedes CLA doesn’t just look more elegant than the 2 GC because of its styling. It’s actually a slightly bigger car in terms of length, width and wheelbase. The BMW is 4,526 mm (178.1 inches) long, 1,800 mm (70.8 inches) wide and its wheelbase measures 2,670 mm (105.1 inches). The CLA on the other hand is 4,688 mm (184.5 inches) long, 1,830 mm (72.0 inches) wide and has a 2,729 mm (107.4 inch) long wheelbase.

We’ll have to wait to see if the 2-Series Gran Coupe is more cramped in the back than the CLA, but on paper, it doesn’t look good.

As for the boot capacity, the BMW’s 430 liter trunk is smaller than the Merc’s 460 liters.

What about performance?

If we were to compare the very similar M235i xDrive Gran Coupe and CLA 35 4MATIC+ Coupe, we would see that they both feature 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engines, with identical power outputs – 301 HP (306 PS). The BMW has a little more torque at 332 lb-ft (450 Nm), compared to the Mercedes’ 295 lb-ft (400 Nm), but the end result is the same: 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.9 seconds.

Also, while both models feature all-wheel drive, the 2-Series GC utilizes an 8-speed automatic gearbox, while the Merc’s transmission is a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

It’s a similar case with the base 228i xDrive that has a 2.0-liter turbo’d four producing 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque for a 0-60mph (96km/h) in 6.0 sec. The CLA 250 gets a 2.0L turbo four too, making a bit less power at 221hp but the same torque figure at 258 lb-ft (350 Nm), with a slightly worse 0-60mph time of 6.3 seconds for both the FWD and AWD 4Matic models.  Top speed is limited for both at 130mph (209km/h) with all-season tires – BMW said that if you opt for summer performance tires, it rises to 150mph (241km/h).

Is there a clear winner in the tech department?

As expected, the answer is no. Whichever car you buy, it will come with a digital gauge cluster and a large (enough) infotainment display. Then there are the active safety features, where in the BMW you get standard Front Collision Warning with City Collision Mitigation, Active Blind Spot Detection and Lane Departure Warning.

Meanwhile, the CLA is equipped with many systems that originally debuted in the S-Class. It comes with Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active Brake Assist and more. Then there are the UIs, where you get voice activation in both instances by saying ‘Hey BMW’ or ‘Hey Mercedes’.

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

In the end, while BMW has yet to announce pricing for the 2-Series Gran Coupe, we expect the entry-level 228i xDrive to hover between low and mid $30,000s. The 2020 Mercedes CLA is priced from $36,650 in FWD 250 spec and $38,650 in AWD 250 4MATIC (the BMW will only be offered with xDrive AWD in America). U.S. pricing for the AMG CLA 35 has not yet been announced.

  • Christian Wimmer

    It’s a little unfair to judge these cars from photos. I’ve seen the new CLA in person (sat inside it etc.) and it’s a good-looking cars, especially with the AMG Line trim.

    From the photos, I think the 2er Gran Coupe certainly looks more pleasing than the new 1er, but how it stacks up against the CLA will need to wait until I see it in person.

    • Bash

      I agree, you can’t top that.

  • Kyle Newberry

    Personally i think the CLA is one of the fugliest cars on the road.

  • krusshall

    This is the buyer segment that the Cadillac CT4 is meant to target. Dynamically the better vehicle but obviously it can’t compete with the brand equity.

  • PK

    CLA! <3

  • no25

    Looks alone, CLA (and that isn’t saying much since the CLA is shaped like a baked potato). I’ll have to see a true performance comparison to truly pick one, though. Looks are a lot, but they’re not everything.

  • Marshall Boyce

    I think the Bimmer is quite ugly and cheap looking

  • MisanthropyToo

    The BMW has a fascinating effect of making the MB look like a better car than it is.

    BMW should have called this a 218Ti since it is the spiritual successor to the worst BMW ever.

    I suppose Elantra buyers will feel a little bit more smug as they say (rather convincingly)

    ” I totally rejected a BMW 2-series to buy this Hyundai.”

    P.S. I guess this definitively answers the question of whether a FWD car can embody BMW.

  • klowik

    BMW should just shrink the 8-series to the size of this 2! then that should be it!

    • Andrewthecarguy

      Looks like they tried to but failed miserably. The rear of the 2 is all 8 series except the proportions are way off.

  • Merc1

    Clearly the CLA is the better looking car by a mile. The BMW is German (Ford) Focus from a generation ago.

    M

  • MarketAndChurch

    They’re both beautiful, I actually can’t choose.

  • Vangelis Goulis

    The BMW looks like a hatch that someone just stuck a third volume on. the Mercs design is surely more flowing

  • SteersUright

    Just when I thought the MB was the ugliest little entry luxury sedan, this BMW comes along and steals the crown. Seriously, the Jetta GLI looks better than both of these, is likely much better to drive and certainly a better value.

    • Andrewthecarguy

      I almost agree. The Jetta is a transgression. These are more like sins, with the Merc the lesser offender.

  • AxlRock

    Neither of these. A class sedan looks better.

  • Six_Tymes

    they both look like older Buicks

  • TheBelltower

    They both seem like throwaway commuter cars. If I were in the market for my first premium car, and had to choose one of these, I’d probably lean toward the BMW. Not a fan of current MB interiors.

  • BlackPegasus

    The BMW is more tolerable than the MB.

  • Enter Ranting

    Both are a mess. It’s like the designers raided the Pontiac playbook.

  • getoffme

    Both are ugly.

  • Steve Cohn

    It’s amazing how much the BMW 2 resembles the Buick Verano.
    BMW copied the side & rear of the Verano. Not good.

    • tachys

      Verano is Opel Astra Sedan, as similar as apple and parsley with BMW 2

      • Steve Cohn

        Maybe mechanical, but not styling.
        Try Google “Buick Verano” and you’ll see what I mean.

    • Bananarama

      This looks nothing like a Verano…

  • designer_dick

    Neither of them are what you’d call classically attractive, but the CLA is definitely the less awkwardly proportioned of the two. The BMW is just TOO chunky for its own good.

  • Nowan

    these cars should not have been existed

  • disqus_AzdXKETDwy

    It’s a very sad time for BMW “design”. When I see the chrome and the all around bland nature my first thought is Corolla.

  • Abu Sayyaff

    Get rid of those running BMW design studios .. NOW NOW !!

  • tachys

    Well, while Kia is really ok and looks great, Hyunadi’s interior is terrible quality – one can get cancer just looking at it.

  • SamBamm

    The MB is a wonderfully consistent, whole design from front to rear. BMW is a desperate hodge-podge of random Japanese economy car design gimmicks.

  • Six Thousand Times

    I would have liked the BMW better but a few too many details do it in. The Benz by a little bit. The BMW has a lot less garish interior, though.

  • Orlando Horuz Rush Garcia

    the 2 series is like the last gen BMW X4/6 SUVs, is too vertical and over elavorated desing

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