MotorTrend is rehashing content but considering the popularity of these two cars that is fine. As you already know these two cars have significant differences. The Mercedes-Benz CLA45 has a turbocharged 2.0 liter four-cylinder. The motor, codenamed M133, is the world's most powerful production four-cylinder and a beast of a 2.0 liter. The M235i has the tried and true turbocharged 3.0 liter N55 inline-6 although at 320 horsepower it is rated at 35 horses less than the CLA45 AMG.
The BMW is rear wheel drive with an 8-speed ZF automatic (a manual is an option). The CLA45 AMG by contrast has a seven speed dual clutch transmission and it sends power to all four wheels.
So does MotorTrend feel differently about these cars a month later? Well, the M235i is criticized for its brakes and steering feel. It is said to offer great fun factor partially due to being able to wag its tail around and its balance.
The CLA45 AMG by contrast is said to feel more powerful, offer better grip, and it features better brakes. The steering feel also is stated to be better which is interesting considering this is essentially a front wheel drive platform. MotorTrend complains about the looks but this is subjective and having seen the CLA in person it is quite striking. The dual clutch is also criticized for its behavior and downshift speed.
They take them around the track in an attempt to pick which is better and this is where the rehashing of content comes in. We already know the result from last month with the CLA45 outperforming the M235i on the track. What the video features is an overlay of both cars lapping which is nice to see.
Ultimately, these are both great entry level German performance cars. The CLA45 AMG is the better performer partially as a virtue of brute force but the M235i offers a greater fun factor. Two different styles at work here and it would be nice to revisit this comparison when the M235i gets a limited slip differential. On a track like the Streets of Willow that alone will make a huge difference for the M235i.