2020 BMW 2 Series vs. 2019 Mercedes CLA

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the 2 Series 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 seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available all wheel drive and rear parking sensors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the 2 Series the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 104 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The CLA has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty

The 2 Series’ corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the CLA’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 2 Series for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mercedes doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the CLA.

Reliability

The battery on the 2 Series is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 2 Series’ battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The CLA’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

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 2 Series’ reliability 11 points higher than the CLA.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 2 Series second among small premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The CLA was rated third.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 15th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 13th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 9 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Engine

The 230i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 40 more horsepower (248 vs. 208) than the CLA’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The M240i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 127 more horsepower (335 vs. 208) and 111 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 258) than the CLA’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the M240i is faster than the Mercedes CLA 250 (automatics tested):

2 Series

CLA

Zero to 60 MPH

4.3 sec

6.3 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

10.3 sec

16.7 sec

Quarter Mile

12.7 sec

14.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

111 MPH

95 MPH

Top Speed

155 MPH

133 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the 2 Series’ fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The CLA doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW 2 Series, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the CLA.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the M240i’s brake rotors are larger than those on the CLA:

M240i

CLA

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13.6 inches

11.6 inches

The 2 Series’ 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 2 Series stops much shorter than the CLA:

2 Series

CLA

80 to 0 MPH

208 feet

211 feet

Road and Track

70 to 0 MPH

155 feet

160 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

103 feet

114 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The 2 Series’ optional 245/35R18 rear 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 optional 40 series tires.

Chassis

The 230i is 7.6 inches shorter than the CLA, making the 2 Series easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the 2 Series Coupe a Compact car, while the CLA is rated a Subcompact.

The 2 Series Coupe has 12 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CLA (90 vs. 78).

The 2 Series Coupe has 1.9 inches more front headroom, 1.3 inches more front legroom, 1.1 inches more rear headroom, 5.9 inches more rear legroom and .2 inches more rear shoulder room than the CLA.

Cargo Capacity

The 2 Series Coupe has a larger trunk than the CLA (13.8 vs. 13.1 cubic feet).

With its coupe or convertible body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the 2 Series offers cargo security. The CLA’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

Servicing Ease

The 2 Series 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 2 Series 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

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the 2 Series 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.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The 2 Series’ available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the CLA’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 2 Series offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The CLA doesn’t offer headlight washers.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 2 Series detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The CLA doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the 2 Series offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The CLA doesn’t offer cornering lights. The 2 Series also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

On extremely cold winter days, the 2 Series’ 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 BMW 2 Series comes in coupe and convertible bodystyles; the Mercedes CLA isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

Economic Advantages

The 2 Series will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the 2 Series will retain 47.46% to 51.69% of its original price after five years, while the CLA only retains 46.37% to 46.78%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 2 Series is less expensive to operate than the CLA because it costs $273 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the 2 Series than the CLA, including $367 less for a starter, $138 less for fuel injection, $413 less for a fuel pump and $267 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the BMW 2 Series, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Mercedes CLA isn't recommended.

Car and Driver performed a comparison test in its June 2014 issue and they ranked the BMW 230i Coupe higher than the Mercedes CLA 250 4MATIC.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 2 Series second among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The CLA was rated third.

The M235i/M240i was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 3 of the last 5 years. The CLA has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 2 Series was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2015. The CLA has never been an “All Star.”

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

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