Face Off: Audi A3 vs Mercedes Benz CLA Class

2014 Mercedes Benz CLA Class front three quarter

Audi’s entry level sedan, the A3 had no direct competitors here in India during the time of its launch. Mercedes Benz, not one to allow its rival to establish a monopoly, has recently unveiled the stunning CLA-Class for the domestic market. The understated Audi takes on the unapologetically  brash CLA-Class. Who wins? We find out.


Audi A3:

Audi’s range has always been about understatement and the A3 is no exception. The A3, as with the rest of the automaker’s range features the brand’s signature trapezoidal grille and LED DRLs. The A3 will no doubt be mistaken for its bigger brother the A4 quite often. However, while the current gen A4 is rather drab and far too clinical, the German car maker has endowed the baby sedan with a little bit of flair. As a result, the A3 pulls off an impressive blend of style and sophistication. With the launch of the new cabriolet model, the A3 gets a bit of zest that is so hard to find from the German car maker.

white 2014 audi a3
The New Audi A3

Mercedes Benz CLA-Class:

The CLA-Class adopts a completely different route than its Audi rival. With its seductive curves, coupe like body and stunning headlight design, the CLA is an absolute showstopper. While many may not agree with Mercedes Benz’s latest design philosophy, the CLA’s scintillating body will surely appeal to a younger buyers base, the section of the market that this car was designed for.

2014 Mercedes Benz CLA Class front three quarter
The Mercedes Benz CLA-Class

Winner: Mercedes Benz CLA-Class



Audi A3:

Form follows function in the new Audi A3. The all black cabin swathed in leather and premium plastics is characteristic of Audi. The interiors follow the same design philosophy as the sedan’s exteriors with the German car maker paying more heed to functionality than styling. An analog instrument panel and a steering wheel complete with mounted controls greet the driver. The A3’s MMI system features an advanced unit with a pop-up displa. Users can control the infotainment system via a single knob located in the center stack. The knob also doubles up as a touch pad with character recognition technology for ease of typing.

audi a3 dashboard
The A3 sports an ergonomically balanced cabin

Other notable features include a 20 GB buit in hard disk and dual zone climate control.

Mercedes Benz CLA-Class:

The drama continues on the inside with the CLA featuring an all black cabin with chrome accents gracing the dashboard, instrument cluster and A/C vents. The sporty silver accented three spoke steering wheel is reminiscent of units found in the brand’s high end AMG range. Everything about the CLA-Class exudes a bit of flair. The air vents too feature a unique design styled to resemble propellers.

interior mercedes benz cla sedan
The interior of the CLA

Mercedes Benz’s infotainment system however is not quite as advanced and does feature the same levels of functionality as the A3’s.

Winner: Mercedes Benz CLA-Class


Under The Hood:

Audi A3:

Available in both petrol and diesel, the A3 will appeal to both the enthusiast as well as the long distance commuter. The diesel variant is powered by a 2.0 L TDI unit that churns out 140 hp @ 3200 RPM and 320 Nm of torque @ 1750 RPM. The 1.8 L TFSI petrol mill on offer produces an impressive 178 hp @ 5100 RPM and 250 Nm of torque @ 1200 RPM.

While Audi offers a seven speed DSG for the petrol, the diesel has to make do with a six speed DSG gearbox.

Mercedes Benz CLA-Class:

Mercedes has never been one to fit its entry level models with high caliber engines and the CLA is no exception. The German automaker will offer a four cylinder turbocharged 2.0 L petrol engine that produces 135 hp and 300 Nm of torque while the diesel engine is expected to be a  four-cylinder 2.2-litre mill that churns out 100 hp and 300 Nm of torque. Although power figures pale in comparison to the A3’s, the massive torque produced from both variants will keep the driver entertained.

Both engines are mated to a seven speed dual clutch gearbox.

Winner: Audi A3



The CLA-Class’ alluring sheetmetal is one of the best in the business. Sadly however, Mercedes Benz has opted to design a car whose beauty is only skin deep. The A3 offers far more under the hood and inside the cabin. Although the Audi could have used a bit more drama, the A3 is the definite winner.

audi a3 rear three quarter
The Audi A3 is better suited for those who do the driving

Audi A3 – a Mean Machine

German car maker Audi is about to release an all new sedan for the Indian market. Based off the A4, the new A3 is a smaller, budget offering from the German manufacturer to rival the Mercedes Benz A-Class and the BMW 1 Series. Internationally the A3 rivals the CLA Class and 2 Series sedan, however, as BMW and Benz have not released their entry level sedans here in India, the compact sedan will compete against its hatches.

Audi has always made products that make sense for the Indian market. With the most number of models available in numerous segments, the German automaker has managed to claw its way to the top of the luxury car market. However, with Mercedes Benz launching their aggressive campaign to regain market monopoly, Audi needed another budget offering to take on the Three Pointed Star. Currently the Q3 sits at the bottom of the Audi price range. Despite being one of the best luxury compact SUVs on offer, the Q3 is still a pricey offering. The A3 however, with a expected price range of Rs. 24 – 29 lakhs (ex-showroom) has the makings of a bestseller.


audi a3 front view
Front View of the Upcoming Audi A3

Based off Volkswagen’s MQB platform, the new A3 sports the same innards found on the next generation Passat, current gen Octavia as well as a slew of other cars under VW. This new modular platform ensures lightweight construction, improved cost reduction which means all future cars will be cheaper and more economical. The new A3 is quite a classy looking car. With its typical Audi LED daytime running lights and the silhouette composed of sharp lines and creases, the A3 makes an extremely formal design statement as opposed to the youthful vigor emanating from the A-Class. However, some may argue that the A3 looks a bit too strikingly similar to the A4.


audi a3 rear view
The Audi A3 Makes A Formal Design Statement That The Older Generation Might Take a Liking To

The executive sedan maybe smaller than the A4 but the cabin provides an aura of luxury. The all black cabin adds to the sporty appeal of the car. The dashboard and center console make good use of premium plastics and chrome accents to improve the A3’s upmarket feel. Despite the A3 sitting at the bottom of the Audi range, the sedan is packed to the brim with features such as a pop up display for the infotainment system and the German car maker’s latest MMI controller. The music system is a 180 W ten speaker system that sports traditional features such as AUX IN, USB, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity. The steering wheel comes with an array of mounted controls to make use of the music system and the user’s Bluetooth connected phone.


dashboard 2015 audi a3
The Dashboard of the 2015 Audi A3

The international model of the A3 sees it in both petrol and diesel avatars. With the diesel variant powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit that produces 141 HP and 320 Nm of torque, the petrol variant makes use of a 1.8 L TFSI engine that puts out an impressive 177 HP and 250 Nm of torque. While both these engines are more than likely to arrive for the Indian market, Audi may introduce detuned variants of the same to improve fuel efficiency. Both engines are mated to a seven speed dual clutch gearbox (VW’s critically acclaimed DSG gearbox). The German car maker will not be introducing the A3 with a manual gearbox. In time however, Audi may also introduce a budget variant of the A3, similar to the Q3S that sports a traditional manual ‘box. The budget offering however may not sport the automaker’s signature LED lights as well, a feature quite popular among buyers these days. 


audi a3 2.0 l tfsi engine
Audi Will Be Introducing the 2.0 TDI and 1.8 L TFSI Engines For the India Bound Audi A3 albeit In Lower States of Tune

The A3 will be brought in as a completely knocked down unit (CKD), however if customer response is good, then Audi may consider localization of production to cut costs down even further.


audi a3 interior
The Audi A3 Features The German Car Maker’s Motorized Pop Up Display

Image Source: Car and Driver

Bottom Line:

Although the A3’s main rivals are the 1 Series and the A-Class, Audi is hoping that A3 will trump both cars in terms of space and features. Needless to say, the A3 may be the A-Class killer.

Visit Audi’s India page: www.audi.in