Well, the first thing to notice is its the greatest value. A Subaru does not exactly have the brand appeal of a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz but that much is obvious. Starting at $38,190 and its as tested price of $38,190 makes that Mercedes badge lose some of its luster when the CLA45 AMG tested price comes in at an eye opening $60,625. If the CLA45 AMG loaded up with options is getting to $60k what will the new W205 C63 AMG go for? $80k? Probably.
The M235i's tested price is $46,025 so it actually comes up in the middle between the STI and the CLA45 AMG. It also does not have all wheel drive or a turbo four-cylinder like the other two. It does offer the greatest displacement at 3.0 liter from its turbo inline-6 versus 2.5 liter for the STI turbo flat-4 and 2.0 liters from the AMG turbo inline-4.
The WRX STI has the least amount of horsepower and torque at 305 horses and 290 lb-ft. It is outgunned by the 320 horse 330 lb-ft M235i and the 355 horse and 332 lb-ft CLA45 AMG. It shows in the acceleration figures:
1. CLA45 AMG - 12.7 @ 110.0 1/4 mile, 4.2 0-60
2. M235i - 13.0 @ 106.6 1/4 mile, 4.4 0-60
3. WRX STI - 13.1 @ 104.4, 4.6 0-60
The CLA45 AMG is the quickest and fast of the bunch, decisively. So the acceleration is quite clear but what about the handling performance? Interestingly all three cars pull a .97g skidpad. The skidpad does not tell the whole story and fortunately MotorTrend took all three cars for timed laps on the roadcourse. The result is quite interesting.
The quickest car around the roadcourse? The WRX STI. Does the fact it has the lightest curb weight of the trio at 3367 pounds help? Certainly. It also seems to manage its nose heavy weight distribution of 59/41 front to rear better than the CLA45 AMG with its incredible 60/40 front to rear bias. It is clear which car here was designed as a front wheel drive originally.
Streets of Willow laptime:
1. WRX STI: 1:26.12
2. CLA45 AMG: 1:26.20
3. M235i: 1:26.37
So the least powerful and cheapest car in the comparison has the best laptime. It also wins the comparison. The STI is said to just pack in a ton of fun into the package despite its understeer. The BMW unfortunately comes up short and the laptime likely shows that the tight Streets of Willow course does not favor an M235i without a limited slip differential and an automatic transmission. Whereas the STI has a sportier manual and the CLA45 AMG a technology advanced dual clutch the BMW is stuck with an automatic. What's going on here? Open diff, automatic, is this really a BMW?
The STI wins and deservedly so. A great value and all around package. The CLA45 AMG shows it is the dragster of the group and very capable... but boring. MotorTrend cites the lack of emotion and so it finishes last.
A Subaru going up against a BMW and a Mercedes? That thought certainly does not look so crazy in retrospect.
3rd Place: Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
Big on speed, style, and price; small on emotion.
2nd Place: BMW M235i
A well-balanced rear-driver in need of options for pizzazz.
1st Place: Subaru WRX STI
Launch Edition: Loud, fast, surefooted, amenity-packed—it typifies fun.
|2014 BMW M235i||2014 Mercedes Benz CLA45 AMG||2015 Subaru WRX STI (Launch Edition)|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD||Front-engine, AWD||Front-engine, AWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Turbocharged I-6, alum block/head||Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head||Turbocharged flat-4, alum block/heads|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||181.8 cu in/2979 cc||121.5 cu in/1991 cc||149.9 cu in/2457 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||320 hp @ 5800 rpm||355 hp @ 6000 rpm||305 hp @ 6000 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||330 lb-ft @ 1300 rpm||332 lb-ft @ 2250 rpm||290 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm|
|REDLINE||7000 rpm||6250 rpm||6700 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||10.9 lb/hp||10.1 lb/hp||11.0 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed automatic||7-speed twin-clutch auto.||6-speed manual|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F;R||13.4-in vented disc; 11.4-in vented disc, ABS||13.8-in vented, drilled, grooved disc; 13.0-in vented, drilled disc, ABS||13.0-in vented disc; 12.4-in vented disc, ABS|
|WHEELS, F;R||7.5 x 18-in; 8.0 x 18-in, cast aluminum||9.0 x 19-in, cast aluminum||8.5 x 18-in, forged aluminum|
|TIRES, F;R||225/40ZR18 88Y; 245/35ZR18 92Y Michelin Pilot Super Sport||235/40ZR19 91Y Dunlop Sport Maxx RT MO||245/40R18 97W Dunlop Sport Maxx RT|
|WHEELBASE||105.9 in||106.3 in||104.3 in|
|TRACK, F/R||59.7/60.4 in||61.3/61.4 in||60.2/60.6 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||174.5 x 69.8 x 55.2 in||184.7 x 70.0 x 55.7 in||180.9 x 70.7 x 58.1 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||35.8 ft||36.1 ft||36.0 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3494 lb||3600 lb||3367 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST., F/R||53/47 %||60/40 %||59/41 %|
|HEADROOM, F/R||40.1/36.5 in||37.0/35.6 in||39.8/37.1 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||41.5/33.0 in||40.2/27.1 in||43.3/35.4 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||54.4/53.4 in||56.0/53.2 in||55.6/54.2 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||13.8 cu ft||13.1 cu ft||12.0 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|0-30||1.7 sec||1.4 sec||1.3 sec|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||2.2||2.2||2.5|
|QUARTER MILE||13.0 sec @ 106.6 mph||12.7 sec @ 110.0 mph||13.1 sec @ 104.4 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||103 ft||105 ft||108 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.97 g (avg)||0.97 g (avg)||0.97 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||24.9 sec @ 0.78 g (avg)||24.6 sec @ 0.79 g (avg)||24.9 sec @ 0.79 g (avg)|
|1.6-MI ROAD COURSE LAP||86.37 sec||86.20 sec||86.12 sec|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1800 rpm||1500 rpm||2400 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$46,025||$60,625||$38,190|
|AIRBAGS||Dual front, front side, f/r head||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee||Dual front, front side, f/r head|
|BASIC WARRANTY||4 yrs/50,000 miles||4 yrs/50,000 miles||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||4 yrs/50,000 miles||4 yrs/50,000 miles||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||4 yrs/unlimited miles||Unlimited||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||13.7 gal||14.8 gal||15.9 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||22/32/25 mpg||23/31/26 mpg||17/23/19 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||153/105 kW-hrs/100 miles||147/109 kW-hrs/100 miles||198/147 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.76 lb/mile||0.75 lb/mile||1.01 lb/mile|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||22/29/25 mpg||23/30/26 mpg||22/25/23 mpg|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium||Unleaded premium||Unleaded premium|