Originally Posted by Sticky
Please no, I spent the weekend in our shop's CLA 45 (~10 hour road trip and two track days) and I just test drove the M235i an hour ago. It's tough to say which car feels more powerful because I drove the M235i full of four people and the CLA had tons of luggage, jacks, tools, etc. in it but the M235i's motor is definitely better. I don't think the software in the M235i is the same as the power kit, it feels so much more responsive than any N55 I've driven. Almost doesn't feel turbocharged and it doesn't seem to run out of breath up top as badly as N55s typically do. It just pulls hard from any RPM and it sounds so great. The CLA 45 is much, much more laggy and its top end feels pretty soft compared to its extremely powerful midrange.
Also, the CLA has a low redline and revs pretty freely so you need to be paying attention to avoid banging into the rev limiter, it slows you down for what feels like an eternity before it finally listens to your repeated requests for an upshift. M235i's auto has much better programming. I actually stopped using the CLA's paddles because there is a delay programmed into their response, that car is at its best with the transmission in S mode. It's actually very aggressive and keeps the revs way up high.
When it comes to handling there is simply no comparison, the M235i was designed around the Pilot Super Sport which is one of my favorite tires and it just runs circles around the CLA, the BMW feels alive in your hands while the CLA just feels like any other small Benz. You can always tell the CLA is primarily front wheel drive, you get a fair amount of front wheel slip before it sends any torque to the rear and it actually torque steers a little.
I'm pretty much rambling at this point, the CLA is a great, great car and it's ridiculously quick off the line but it doesn't make me want to own it. I NEED an M235i in my life. "