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5 Luxury Flagships That Cost Less Than A Base Mercedes CLA

Don't settle for the cheapest model when these cost just as much.

Today, people who aspire to own a car from a luxury brand have a choice of entry-level models.The Acura ILX, Audi A3 and Mercedes CLA all offer premium badges at affordable prices. The CLA, which basically kicked off the German entry-level luxury segment, starts at $32,050. While you do get a Mercedes badge, you don't really get any of the Mercedes luxury. For less than $30k, why buy one of these entry level cars when you can buy one these five luxury flagships?

Instead of spending over $30,000 on the cheapest model from Mercedes, why not get a flagship model from the same brand? Yes that's right, you can buy an S-Class for the same price as the CLA. For this price, you will be looking at S550s from 2007-2010. Many of these examples have as little as 30,000 miles on the odometer. The CLA has a 2.0-liter four cylinder turbo making 208 horsepower. The S-Class has a 382 horsepower V8. Not only will the S-Class smoke the CLA in a drag race, it will also treat your passengers to heated and ventilated seats with massage function. In comparison, the CLA's stiff seats and almost unusable rear seat will make you wish you had just bought a bigger car without the luxury badge.

Perhaps if you want to buy a Mercedes CLA, it is because you like the sexy coupe roofline. This style may be visually appealing, but it makes the CLA very tight on the inside. If you want sexy coupe-like lines and supreme comfort, why not buy the Jaguar XJ? For less than $30,000 you can find a 2011 or 2012 model with less than 60,000. The XJ is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 with 385 horsepower. Dig a little harder and you can even find a supercharged model with 470 horsepower. The Jaguar is not a technology powerhouse, but it does drive more like a sports car than many Mercedes products and turns far more heads on the road. Jaguar's reliability has come a long way, but you might still need to watch out for expensive repairs.

With two V8s on the list, you may already be impressed at what you could get instead of a CLA. However, what if eight cylinders just isn't enough for you? Don't worry, we have you covered. For less than $30,000 you can get not one, but two different Audis with more than eight cylinders. The first is the 2007-2009 S8. Based on the A8, the S8 comes powered by a 5.2-liter V10 from a Lamborghini Gallardo. That's right, a Lamborghini engine for less than the price of a 2.0-liter! The V10 engine produced 450 horsepower, more than double what the CLA has. If ten cylinders isn't enough, you can also get the A8 with the W12. This engine also makes 450 horsepower, but is even more comfort oriented.

When you purchased your CLA, you may have thought you were getting something fast. 208 horsepower and a 6.3 second 0-60 mph time is better than a Corolla, but for $30,000 you should be a lot faster. We recommend an E60 BMW M5. The E60 M5 was built from 2006-2009 and came with a shrieking 500-hp 5.0-liter V10. Just listen to it!

The final car on our list is not the most comfortable or reliable, but it is the most prestigious. Instead of buying a cheap German car, why not get an Italian work of art? The first generation Maserati Quattroporte may not be the best looking Italian car ever made, but it still has a 400 horsepower Ferrari-derived 4.2-liter V8. We aren't seriously recommending that you buy a hand built Italian car that is likely to fall apart instead of a CLA, but the Quattroporte is an amazing example of how nice of a car you can have for the same price.

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