Ask AutoGuide No. 23 – Mercedes-Benz CLA vs. Audi A3 Sedan vs. Acura ILX

9
Ask AutoGuide No. 23 – Mercedes-Benz CLA vs. Audi A3 Sedan vs. Acura ILX

Like Rolex watches, fine art or mega yachts, people aspire to own luxury automobiles. If they were both offered to you for free, chances are you’d pick a shiny new BMW 5 Series over a battle-scarred 1996 Plymouth Breeze every single time.

Now you’re probably thinking aloud, “Thanks for the no-s**t statement of the year, Craig.” What can I say other than you’re welcome? Now for another headline from AutoGuide’s Department of the Blatantly Obvious, luxury is nice and everyone wants a taste.

Premium automakers have recognized the insatiable demand for high-end cars. They’ve also acknowledged that not everyone can afford something fancy, which is part of the reason they’re pushing down to more accessible price points.

Bank-Error-ArtPremium small cars are designed for customers that are well-off enough to consider a luxury brand but are not quite in the 1 percent just yet. Maybe their trust fund hasn’t matured, or perhaps they’re merely a junior account executive at their investment house. In time those issues will fall away like an old scab and these folks will be able to go whole hog on a high-end vehicle.

But in the meantime they’ve got to think small – at least until their student loans are paid off – and get by with something entry-level. This week Ask AutoGuide looks at vehicular gateway drugs, entry-level luxury sedans priced right around $30,000.

Suggestion #1 – 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

Information Card -- Mercedes-Benz CLA-ClassOne of the most interesting announcements to come from Stuttgart in years isn’t a brand-new S-Class (ok, that’s pretty intriguing), it’s not some cutting-edge technology (like autonomous driving) nor is it the introduction of a redesigned electric smart car (wait, it’s definitely not that). Mercedes is pushing into the compact luxury segment in a big way with its appealing new CLA-Class.

This small sedan should deliver Benz-level engineering, technology and dynamics in a vehicle with near mass-market pricing. The car starts at a very reasonable 30 grand.

With four-doors and five seats the CLA is comparable to the company’s ever-popular C-Class. But that’s where the similarities end. The new entrant’s wheelbase is a couple inches shorter and its curb weight is about 160 pounds lighter than the trimmest C-sedan.

Despite its slightly truncated hub-to-hub span the CLA’s overall length is 1.5 inches greater than the C-Class; it’s also a fraction of an inch wider. Maybe this car isn’t so compact after all.

Up front it’s got a big, smiling grille that’s graced with a gigantic three-pointed star (or chicken foot if you’re a BMW fan). Aft of its face the rest of the car looks quite similar to Mercedes’ other “four-door coupe,” the pricey CLS, with a sagging belt-line and pinched tail lights.

The CLA-Class is powered by a transversely mounted 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four. It delivers a rather unimpressive 208 horsepower with 258 lb-ft of torque.

Like wine and cheese, the engine is paired with a suitable partner. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is the only gearbox offered. All of this hardware should allow the car to scamper from zero to 60 miles an hour in 6.9 seconds.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Revealed

Hedging their bets, the folks at Mercedes wisely decided to offer a performance version of the CLA. The AMG model packs a 355-horsepower turbocharged wallop that’s ready to body-slam you into the seat back like an F-22 Raptor on full afterburner.

Suggestion #2 – 2015 Audi A3

Information Card -- Audi A3 SedanWas ist das?! Another compact German luxury sedan we can’t yet purchase? Is there a conspiracy going on or something? It would seem as though that’s the case (it came from the grassy knoll!).

Unlike the CLA we’ve actually had plenty of seat time in the 2015 Audi A3 sedan, which is slated to go on sale in the first quarter of next year. Can you wait that long? You’re going to have to.

The new A3 brings Audi’s top dollar luxury DNA down to a smaller, more affordable package, and a good looking one at that. Where the Mercedes CLA is avant-garde this four-door is subtle and clean. Inside and out it’s grown up and sophisticated.

In global markets an all-you-can-drive buffet of engines is available under the A3’s diminutive bonnet. Unfortunately American customers have considerable limitations, but there’s still plenty to choose from.

The base powerplant is a 1.8-liter turbo-four with 180 ponies. The up-level engine displaces a healthy 2.0-liters and should be a lot more muscular. Of course an efficient diesel is also available. Clocking in at 2.0-liters, it’s expected to bring 150 horsepower to the table.

Beyond these difficult choices there are two other powertrain options. The S3 will feature a scalding-hot engine with around 300 ponies! Lastly, Audi will also offer a plug-in hybrid e-tron version of the car, in case you needed another choice.

American buyers may have multiple engines to select from, but aft of the bellhousing their options are severely limited… in fact, they have no options. All Audi A3 sedans sold on this side of the Atlantic will come with a self-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch autobox. The car should also come with a packet of tissue so you can dry your tears.

The new A3 sedan may be small but it’s still an Audi, which means you get a super-premium interior. The car’s cabin is constructed of high-end materials and is chockablock with features, like the company’s latest generation Multi Media Interface (MMI) and a slick retractable display screen that silently motors down into the dashboard when it’s not being used.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Audi A3 Sedan Review

There’s a lot to love about the 2015 A3 sedan. The way it carries itself the car feels like Audi’s much larger A6; it’s that good. Unfortunately it won’t go on sale for at least a few months, or more. You’ll just have to bide your time. May we suggest you take up competitive Parcheesi?

Pricing for the 2015 Audi A3 sedan has not been announced at this time but company representatives have hinted that it will start right around $30,000.

Suggestion #3 – 2014 Acura ILX

Information Card -- Acura ILXSo, the two German cars in this little puff piece are off limits for the time being. What’s up with that? Bucking this ridiculous trend is the Acura ILX, a premium compact that you can actually buy… today!

Aside from availability, another area this car beats its competitors is pricing. Hypothetically the ILX undercuts its rivals by a not-insignificant chunk of change. Base price for this small sedan is a little less than 28 grand, including shipping and handling charges.

But who wants a “luxury” car with no options? That’s like ordering a hotdog sans condiments. A tube of fat on a white-bread bun is pretty unappealing, but if you add a smear of mustard, some globs of tomato ketchup (not to be confused with feline-sourced “catsup”) and a sprinkling of relish that meat stick becomes a lot better looking.

Likewise, Honda has added some suitable trimmings to its otherwise pedestrian Civic, creating the ILX. Even the most basic model comes with some nice features including dual-zone automatic climate control, a five-inch information display and keyless entry.

If you really want to shell out some Benjamins you can get things like high-intensity-discharge headlamps, voice recognition and an advanced navigation system with real-time traffic and weather updates as well as restaurant reviews. Bring your appetite.

But best of all Acura still has enthusiasts in mind; you can get an ILX with a six-speed manual transmission. This is yet another way this car distances itself from Mercedes and Audi.

ILX customers have three different drivetrains to choose from. The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder unit that delivers a disappointing 150 horsepower with 140 lb-ft of twist. It’s matched exclusively to a five-speed automatic transmission.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Acura ILX Review

The optional engine is a 2.4-liter unit that puts out a much more appealing 201 ponies and 170 units of torque. It’s only offered with the abovementioned six-speed manual transmission.

Lastly, a hybrid version of the ILX will be available shortly. It features a 1.5-liter four-banger and a bunch of electronic junk to deliver a combined fuel-economy score of 38 miles per gallon.

If you need a little assistance shopping for your next vehicle feel free to get in touch. Just send a short message to ask@AutoGuide.com. Let us know the basics of what you’re looking for. How many seats do you need? What size of vehicle do you want? How much are you willing to spend? With some of those fundamentals out of the way we’ll get busy to come up with two or three must-see vehicles that you’ll have to put on your test-drive list.

  • Disqus11111

    Acura ILX shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as the Audi and MB. it’s nothing but a dressed upHonda Civic.

  • Robby G

    It’s actually a great car. Saying it’s a Civic is like saying the A3 is a Golf.

  • smartacus

    In your objective opinion; should a buyer choose the ILX over the CLA250 or A3?

  • benzvr6

    IMO, stay away from the Asian cars for the next little while. Don’t know what’s going on, but, given their latest recall fiascos… I’d stay away. Plus, between me, you and the fencepost, the ILX is a overpriced Honda Civic… save the extra $5k and get a loaded Civic instead. With the save coin, take your lady friend to a nice beach. I’m sure you’ll score a lot of brownie points with my idea… Good luck!

  • smartacus

    Thanks for the tip. It’s just so tricky, you know.

    It’s so easy to be misled into getting a soulless appliance like some Benz or AUDI when for almost the same price i can score a real status symbol with gravitas… Acura.

    -And not just any Acura, but the one based on the Civic.

    Oh mama!
    Same 5-speed auto and 140 lb/ft of torque
    spank[spank[spank

  • Robby G

    You’re paying for the prestige of the Germans… and you’re not getting reliability. If you’re leasing a car, then who cares about reliability, but I have to think that with these new entry level cars they are introducing it will become a BIG issue.

  • Joe Jermaine Moore

    Doesn’t buying a Civic to save 5 grand defeat the whole purpose of buying an upscale car? BTW the ILX is so much more than a fancy Civic. And yes, all of these cars do platform sharing, which shouldn’t be new to any half-brained car enthusiast.

  • Joe Jermaine Moore

    If you know how to drive a manual, then the ILX 2.4 is a ton of fun. However, the 2.0L leaves something to be desired from a power standpoint. Having said that, the ILX is less expensive and has a ton more standard equipment, and weighs at least 200 pounds less than either of its rivals.

  • Rcrash

    Compare to Benz and Audi, ILX seems pathetic to me. Currently I drive a tsx with 2.4 L engine and I love it but my request to Acura is PLEASE MOVE ON. Why not put a 2 L turbo and make it an all wheel drive? I even love the 2.3L turbo they had in RDX. Why not have that engine in the ILX? Instead they are using 8 year old technolgy that they have used in TSX and trying to sell it to people as new refreshed car. That’s why the sales are so low and no one wants to get one anymore. What happened to old days acura when they used to offer affordable, small and exciting cars like integra gsr or RSX-S?

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

1. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. AGE/RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked