2019 Audi A5 Sportback vs. 2019 Mercedes CLA

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The A5 Sportback’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The CLA doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The A5 Sportback’s standard pretensioning seatbelts also sense rear collisions and remove slack from the seatbelts to help protect the occupants from whiplash and other injuries. The CLA doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The A5 Sportback has standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The CLA doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the A5 Sportback. But it costs extra on the CLA.

The A5 Sportback Prestige has a standard Top and Corner View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The CLA only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

To help make backing safer, the A5 Sportback’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The CLA doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the A5 Sportback and the CLA have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and its standard front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the A5 Sportback the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 139 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The CLA has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty

The A5 Sportback’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the CLA’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

The Audi A5 Sportback’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the CLA’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 6 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 15th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 10 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Engine

The A5 Sportback’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 40 more horsepower (248 vs. 208) and 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 258) than the CLA’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Audi A5 Sportback is faster than the Mercedes CLA 250:

 

A5

CLA

Zero to 30 MPH

1.8 sec

2.4 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.1 sec

6.3 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.5 sec

16.7 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6 sec

7 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3 sec

3.8 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

3.8 sec

4.7 sec

Quarter Mile

13.7 sec

14.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

101 MPH

95 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A5 Sportback gets better fuel mileage than the CLA 250 4MATIC (23 city/34 hwy vs. 24 city/32 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the A5 Sportback’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The CLA doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Audi A5 Sportback uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The CLA requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the A5 Sportback’s brake rotors are larger than those on the CLA:

 

A5

CLA

Front Rotors

13.3 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

11.6 inches

The A5 Sportback’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the CLA are solid, not vented.

The A5 Sportback stops shorter than the CLA:

 

A5

CLA

 

70 to 0 MPH

159 feet

160 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A5 Sportback has larger standard tires than the CLA (245/40R18 vs. 225/45R17). The A5 Sportback’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the CLA (255/35R19 vs. 225/45R17).

The A5 Sportback’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the CLA’s standard 45 series tires. The A5 Sportback’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the CLA’s optional 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A5 Sportback has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the CLA. The A5 Sportback’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels optional on the CLA.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the A5 Sportback’s wheelbase is 4.9 inches longer than on the CLA (111.2 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the A5 Sportback is 1.6 inches wider in the front and .9 inches wider in the rear than on the CLA.

The A5 Sportback’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (54.8% to 45.2%) than the CLA’s (61% to 39%). This gives the A5 Sportback more stable handling and braking.

The A5 Sportback Prestige handles at .94 G’s, while the CLA 250 pulls only .90 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the A5 Sportback Prestige is quieter than the CLA 250:

 

A5

CLA

At idle

38 dB

43 dB

Full-Throttle

72 dB

76 dB

70 MPH Cruising

64 dB

70 dB

Passenger Space

The A5 Sportback has 1.2 inches more front headroom, 1.1 inches more front legroom, 1.6 inches more rear headroom, 8 inches more rear legroom and 1.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the CLA.

Cargo Capacity

The A5 Sportback has a much larger trunk than the CLA (21.8 vs. 13.1 cubic feet).

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the A5 Sportback has a standard power liftgate, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or optionally by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The CLA doesn’t offer a power trunk, so its trunk has to be closed manually.

Servicing Ease

The A5 Sportback uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The CLA uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

The engine in the A5 Sportback is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the CLA. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Mercedes. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 3% lower rating, Mercedes is ranked 6th.

Ergonomics

The A5 Sportback Prestige has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The CLA doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the A5 Sportback to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The CLA doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the A5 Sportback Prestige detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The CLA doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the A5 Sportback has standard extendable sun visors. The CLA doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The A5 Sportback has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the CLA. The A5 Sportback Premium Plus/Prestige also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the CLA.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the A5 Sportback Premium Plus/Prestige keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The CLA doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the A5 Sportback Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The CLA doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Model Availability

The Audi A5 comes in coupe, convertible and four door hatchback bodystyles; the Mercedes CLA isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the A5 Sportback owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the A5 Sportback will cost $1455 less than the CLA over a five-year period.

Recommendations

The Audi A5/S5 outsold the Mercedes CLA by 24% during the 2018 model year.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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