Consumer Reports

A Tale Of Two Cars: Mercedes-Benz Has A Huge Gap Between Its Best And Worst Sedans

A star doesn’t count for much these days.

German automakers don’t mess up often, but that doesn’t mean it’s never happened. In an attempt to appeal to a younger, cash-strapped crowd, Mercedes-Benz built the CLA. Mercedes never hid the fact that the CLA is the cheapest car to ever wear a silver star on the front and at roughly $32,000 it’s clear to see just how different the sedan is from the rest of the automaker’s lineup. At the other end of the spectrum, Mercedes offers the utterly ridiculous Maybach for the same price as a tiny apartment.

Introduced in 2014, the Mercedes-Benz CLA was meant to attract new customers with its almost-as-cheap-as-a-Japanese-sedan price tag. These new customers were also concerned with how a car looks because, hey, any Mercedes is supposed to exude luxury. To ensure that buyers would be able to fool others into thinking that the CLA is a high-end luxury vehicle, the automaker gave it a sleek "four-door coupe" look. From the outside, the CLA looks fine. There’s nothing memorable about it, but it’s not the ugliest car either. Mercedes also took its time to fit the CLA, in its more expensive trims, with the latest technology features. So what’s so bad about the CLA? Well, it sucks.

According to Consumer Reports, the CLA made the list of seven cars that owners hated last year. According to owners, the CLA felt cheap and had a rough, as well as a noisy, ride. In a review of the car, Consumer Reports stated: "Dynamically, the CLA falls on its face with an uncomfortable ride, uninspired drivetrain, and poor visibility." In fact, Consumer Reports went on to call the CLA "a really nice Civic." That’s not something you want to hear about a Mercedes. Yes, it’s really cheap for a Mercedes, but when a highly reputable outlet compares a German luxury car to a Japanese compact sedan you know there’s a problem.

At the other end of Mercedes’ lineup is the incredibly opulent Maybach. With a starting price of $189,350, the Maybach is truly worthy of the Mercedes silver star and sets the tone for the rest of its luxury vehicles. The Maybach is much more than just a stretched S-Class; it's far more lavish and with the price tag of a small condo, it’s insanely expensive. Not only is it extremely comfortable, but the Maybach is fitted with the monstrous 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 good for 523 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. It’s no supercar, but the Maybach can get to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds which is fast for a car that weighs roughly 5,300 lbs. But the Maybach’s not about speed. There's also that interior.

On the inside, there’s Exclusive Nappa leather that is hand-stitched throughout the entire cabin. There are even a pair of matching diamond-stitched leather throw pillows in the back, because luxury. The Maybach is also at the forefront for technology with two 12.3-inch high-resolution screens, a Burmester High-End 3D Surround Sound System, and high-resolution screens throughout. Forget just your basic heated and cooled seats. The Maybach offers passengers active multicontour seats that also have a massage feature. Not to mention the cabin fragrance system that even makes the car smell luxurious.

Yes, the Maybach may be extremely expensive but it's worth every penny, whereas the CLA is extremely cheap and not worth half of its asking price. If you put a person in a room with debadged versions of each car they wouldn’t think the same automaker was responsible for both. That speaks volumes to how good the Maybach is and how bad is the CLA.

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