So which does Car and Driver like best? Well, they pick the A3 and state it is the most fun to drive. The BMW should be the car that wins in the fun factor category but BMW supplied a car on runflat tires. The 228i offers the worst grip out of the trio pulling .86g on the skidpad and this number would be greatly improved with some proper rubber and a limited slip differential as well. The BMW's LSD and tire problems show in the slalom with a 47.2 mile per hour figure compared to the 47.9 for the CLA250 and 47.7 for the A3. The CLA250 handles surprisingly well according to Car and Driver.
What is interesting to note is that although the CLA250 and A3 offer all wheel drive they do not suffer much in the weight department for it. The BMW is the lightest car at 3353 pounds but the A3 is right behind it at 3369 pounds. The CLA250 is the heaviest at 3437 pounds.
So, the BMW suffers a bit due to the tires but what about the motors? Yes, they are all 2.0 liter four-cylinder turbo motors but BMW's N20 is the strongest followed by Audi's 2.0T. The 228i runs through the quarter mile in 13.7 seconds at 101 miles per hour. The A3 is second and despite its all wheel drive traction advantage it runs a 14.0 @ 100. The CLA250 is much weaker than its competition with a 14.8 @ 94 quarter mile sprint. Why is the Mercedes 2.0 turbo motor so weak in the CLA250 but so strong in CLA45 AMG? Mercedes needs to improve its base offering. Just look at how far it lags behind in the 0-120 mile per hour sprint. It is considerably weaker than the other two.
This is a comparison the 228i should easily win. It has the best motor, it has the best chassis, but it is handicapped by BMW being cheap. No standard limited slip, runflat tires, and no dual clutch transmission hold this car back. It is not BMW at its best. Car and Driver reaches the same conclusion stating, 'This BMW is good, but it's not as great as it should be.'
The A3 wins the comparison. Does it win because it is the best car or because the 228i has yet to show its best?