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They are both FWD or AWD optioned. Though the new A3 is a hatchback and available in coupe or sedan.

There is an option for an S3 which will compete with the CLA 45 AMG.

Why choose the Mercedes over the Audi?

Discuss
 

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The A3 starts at $34,000 which is $4000 higher than the CLA 180. I'm going to guess the A3 is most comparable with the CLA 250 for pricing.

The A3 is 200hp and 207 torque for both the FWD and Quattro (AWD) models.

The CLA has a bit more torque but keep in mind the A3 is only a hatchback and to be honest I can't say much about the exterior design.

The interior looks good but I've heard of people complaining about the materials being cheap
 

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The A and B will have a Haldex type 4WD which is not as technically rigorous as a proper 4WD with a default torque split of around 50-50. The AMG will have 350 HP so it should squirt forward pretty fast, if it can get the power down properly off the line.

The A-3, being a dressed up VW Golf, also uses Haldex, unlike the larger Audis. So call that much even.
 

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although the design language used on the new A3 sedan is quite old I still think it's sexy and helps to make a serious statement, I think this video does it justice...BUT i still rather take a CLA over it

 

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The A3 starts at $34,000 which is $4000 higher than the CLA 180. I'm going to guess the A3 is most comparable with the CLA 250 for pricing.
Official U.S. pricing is lower:

Audi announces pricing for its all-new 2015 A3 sedan
• The A3 sedan brings a new level of standard features, craftsmanship and attention to detail to the fast growing entry premium market
• An all-new A3 family from Audi will be rolled out over the next 18 months
Audi today announced base pricing for its all-new 2015 A3 sedan. This compactpowerhouse represents the entry level to the Audi brand of luxury vehicles with no compromises – it will offer a combination of standard features including a panoramic glass sunroof, leather seating surfaces, and bi-xenon headlights, all at a base MSRP starting at $29,900 .



“The Audi A3 sedan raises the bar in this premium compact segment” said Scott Keogh, President, Audi of America. “It will add to our momentum in the U.S. marketplace by bringing a new level of technology, craftsmanship and performance to the market."
The A3 sedan plays a pivotal role in the soon to be expanding Audi A3 family. It will be joined later in 2014 by the recently announced Audi A3 Cabriolet, A3 TDI clean diesel, the high-performance S3 sedan and in early 2015, the A3 Sportback e-tron® gasoline electric hybrid (PHEV). Even the base model of the all-new premium Audi A3 comes equipped with standard features that include Audi signature LED DRLs and taillights, Bluetooth® technology, Audi pre sense® basic and a panoramic glass sunroof.
The A3 also marks the first time that a vehicle in this segment will offer MMI® technology, Audi drive select, 4G LTE connectivity and Bang & Olufsen® audio. Delivering the same prestige and high-quality materials found in the brand’s flagship A8 model. The A3 will also feature standard leather seating surfaces and exceptional ergonomics.
The A3 sedan will offer versatile powertrains for a wide variety of entry-luxury customer tastes, including a 1.8 TFSI®, 2.0 TFSI®, 2.0 TDI® clean diesel, and a high-output 2.0 TFSI® offered in the S3. For superior traction and handling the A3 will also offer the legendary Audi quattro® all-wheel drive which distributes power to the wheels that need it most.
All engines are mated to the standard 6-speed S tronic® transmission, which provides the driver immense shifting flexibility and driving pleasure with smooth, dynamic acceleration and virtually no interruption to the power flow.
The A3 will feature an all-new design and has been specifically tailored to meet the sedan preferences of the American market. The signature Singleframe® grille and available full-LED headlights, another first for the A-segment, are some of the notable design changes included in the all-new Audi A3 sedan.
 

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Audi's S's have never been on par with AMG or M. So in that sense I would take the AMG. If they come out with a RS version (those tend to be on par with AMG and M) then we're talking. I've never been a big fan of Audi's styling though. I like understated elegance mind you, but Audi's is a little too understated. And for the statement buyers (i.e. most of the people in the age range who would put down that kind of money on a compact), the Mercedes badge still says more than Audi's.

And I happen to be in the age range these two are targetting.
 

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For me it was a simple case of engine. I talked with previous Audi owners, the engines all consumed oil.

AMG engine was forged.

That was enough.
 

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I've never been an Audi guy when it came to the styling
I don't think it's boring. But it makes be think of a whale shark with its mouth wide open. They have toned it down a bit now though. I remember when the bottom of the grille was the bottom of the car. All there was was like a centimeter of bodywork underneath the grille.
 

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I love Audi's since they restyled their whole line. I feel the S3 does not compete with the CLA45 but the RS3 would be a tough choice especially if they offered a manual
 

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I'm looking at either the S3 or the CLA45.

MSRP: $42,000 est v. $48,375
Available: Aug/Sept of 2014 v. Nov 2013
HP: 296 v. 355
0-60: 4.8-5.0 v. 4.2-4.5 est.
Trans: 6 speed dual clutch or manual v. 7-speed dual clutch
Weight: 3200 est v. 3600
Drive: Haldex AWD v. FWD with up to 50/50 split
Sound System: band & olufsen v. harmon/kardon

Styling: Personal take is the Audi is getting a bit plain looking while the AMG is a newer style and more special.
 

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In Australia, we have very little supply of CLAs, USA gets preference, and with the sun roof manufacturing debacle, very few CLA 250s will arrive in 2014 as all are specced here with a sun roof, so Aussie buyers, you will get an Audi Sedan or S3 quicker, even if it is boring, you will get one, better than dreaming of a CLA which may never arrive here
I've never been an Audi guy when it came to the styling

Its definitely a boring design.
 

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CLA Front end FTW

This is coming form a loyal B5 Audi owner who has 180k miles on the clock.
 

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My select be the mercedes from the two only for the sole purpose of picking. Else I don't see the client base for these two autos. With that regard the cost would not be a boundary in this section as the auto is not being purchased for its common sense. The Audi's configuration logic however exquisite and tasteful has turned into verging on excessively old and exhausting at this point. The CLA then again has completely redone its entire outline dialect.
 
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