2020 Audi A4 vs. 2020 Mercedes CLA

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/07/12

The A4’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 A4 has a standard Audi Backguard System, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Audi Backguard System moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The CLA doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The A4 has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies 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.

Both the A4 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, front-wheel drive, 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, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

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 A4 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 202 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The CLA has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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The A4’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the CLA’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

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The Audi A4’s engines use 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.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the A4’s reliability 54 points higher than the CLA.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 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 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 10 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 13th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 7 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Engine

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The A4 45 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 27 more horsepower (248 vs. 221) and 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 258) than the CLA’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

As tested in Consumer Reports the A4 45 TFSI is faster than the Mercedes CLA:

A4

CLA

Zero to 60 MPH

6.3 sec

6.6 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.1 sec

4.3 sec

Quarter Mile

14.9 sec

15.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98 MPH

96 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the A4 40 TFSI FWD Auto gets better fuel mileage than the CLA 250 FWD Auto (27 city/35 hwy vs. 25 city/35 hwy).

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Audi A4 uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The CLA requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The A4 has 1.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the CLA (15.3 vs. 13.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

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The A4’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The CLA doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the A4 Quattro’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the CLA:

A4 Quattro

CLA

Front Rotors

13.3 inches

13 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

12.6 inches

The A4’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.

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the A4’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the CLA (245/40R18 vs. 225/45R18).

The A4’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the CLA’s 45 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the A4’s wheelbase is 2.6 inches longer than on the CLA (110 inches vs. 107.4 inches).

Passenger Space

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The A4 has 3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CLA (92 vs. 89).

The A4 has .4 inches more front headroom, .8 inches more front shoulder room, 1.7 inches more rear headroom, 1.8 inches more rear legroom and .5 inches more rear shoulder room than the CLA.

Cargo Capacity

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The A4 has a much larger trunk than the CLA (13 vs. 11.6 cubic feet).

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the A4’s available trunk can be opened just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The CLA doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

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The A4 has a 3968 lbs. towing capacity. The CLA has no towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

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The engine in the A4 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.

Ergonomics

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Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the A4 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.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The A4 Prestige has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The CLA doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The A4 has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the CLA. The A4 also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the CLA.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/07/12

Consumer Reports® recommends the Audi A4, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Mercedes CLA isn't recommended.

The Audi A4/S4 outsold the Mercedes CLA by over two to one during 2019.

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