For $30,000: New CLA-Class or Used C-Class?

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

The Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is doing something all automakers dream of:

Bringing younger buyers to the brand while selling in numbers that can be described only as an overwhelming success.

Car and Driver says,

The CLA is the least expensive Mercedes-Benz available, but its swoopy “four-door coupe” styling and cool interior make it one of the most stylish cars on the road. The CLA250 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with front- or all-wheel drive.

There’s a problem with this success, though.

Everyone wants a CLA, and Mercedes-Benz can’t make them fast enough. The automaker has warned dealers of short supply, which is sure to mean higher prices and longer waits.

Now, the “least expensive Mercedes-Benz available” will probably become overpriced for what it is. For the same $30,000, why not get a late-model C-Class and get a bigger car with similar styling?

The CLA 250 has a turbocharged, direct-injected inline 4-cylinder that makes 208 horsepower. Zero-to-60 happens in 6.7 seconds, and the EPA rates its highway fuel economy at 30 miles per gallon. Sounds like fun, for sure!

2011 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

A 2011 C300 has a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 228 horsepower, which is good enough for a 0-60 run in about 7.1 seconds. The EPA says the C300 will achieve 26 miles per gallon on the highway.

So for about the same money, probably even a little less, the bigger but older Mercedes sacrifices a few ticks of speed and about 4 miles per gallon in fuel economy. What a buyer will gain, though, is comfort and utility in the form of more room.

On the looks side, I prefer the C300 to the swoopy CLA. The bigger car is more elegant, while the smaller, newer one looks like it took a design cue from Hyundai.

While a cheap new Mercedes is definitely making waves, the better choice might be to go used and get more value for your money.

What would you spend your $30,000 on, a new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA, or a 2011 C-Class?


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Used Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class
Used Mercedes-Benz C-Class


  1. I’ll go with a 3-series beemer instead and forego the possibility of being murdered by a carjacker.

  2. This all depends on one thing. Do either offer a manual transmission? I’d take the one that does!

  3. Oh decisions, decisions. I wish I had $30K to decide between a CLA Class and a used C-Class. But, aren’t there other considerations to be made? Wasn’t the C-CLass designed during the Daimler-Chrysler days?

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