The Audi A3 is on fire in US showrooms. Not literally of course, that would be horrible, and the situation we're referring to is a good thing indeed, as the Four Rings has a serious hit on its hands with the compact luxury sedan. Looking at just its first three months on the market, the entry-level model is outselling the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class by nearly two to one.

The CLA was one of the hottest new cars of last year. Mercedes even called it the company's best launch in 20 years, but it sees as if that early sales performance has not been sustainable. According to Bloomberg, the CLA has seen its sales drop year-over-year in seven of the last eight months, and the new A3 came at just the right time to fill that void.

In June, Mercedes shifted 1,658 CLAs in the US, compared to 2,452 for the A3. The Merc has sold more units so far this year but only because the Audi sedan has only been on sale for three full months. With the two cars being relatively comparable as compact, front-wheel-drive, German luxury sedans, it appears buyers prefer the Four Rings over the Mercedes star, so far at least.

The A3's popularity might be partially generational. According to Bloomberg, citing research from Autotrader, Millennials consider Audi as the brand that best reflects their personality, while Mercedes is ranked third. Audi doesn't want to allow its good image with young buyers to slide either, so it's marketing to them heavily with the sedan with events like targeted launch parties. It appears to be working, too. A company spokesperson recently told Autoblog that a little over 25 percent of the sedan's customers were 30-years-old or younger, compared to about 18 percent for the A4. The idea is that if the company can grab consumers early, then they may keep coming back later in life.


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  • 123 Comments
      david.bergman1
      • 5 Months Ago
      This is really bad news for MB. I predicted that after the initial hype CLA sales would steadily decline which because the CLA carries a very low profit margin, unlike MB's more traditional offerings, it is very problematic. Personally, I think part of that may be due to the CLA's negative stigma and when somebody is dropping nearly $40K on a car the size of a $16K Jetta they don't want everyone else to (whether incorrectly or not) think they only spent $29K.
      action3500
      • 5 Months Ago
      A3 looks nearly like A4 from half a block distance, and A4 looks nearly like A6 . . . CLA on the other hand has distinct looks of a small car, when new C will come out the difference will be astounding between two cars. A3 is more popular because it's poor man's A4. CLA is popular because you can finally get your hands on "value" merc.
        The Rock_Dwayne J
        • 3 Months Ago
        @action3500

        Except the A4 B8 design is 8 years old and bares any update to its interior and exterior to the A3 sedan.

      gregmlr
      • 5 Months Ago
      That's probably because the A3 is selling for less. The CLA has been advertised as starting under $30K, but it's practically impossible to find one for that price.
      Lantern42
      • 5 Months Ago
      Doesn't the CLA cost a lot more money once you put options on it?
      vegasstyleguy
      • 5 Months Ago
      I am sure that the numbers don't lie but I have never seen an A3 while the CLA is in every parking lot all over Vegas.
        Michaele
        • 5 Months Ago
        @vegasstyleguy
        No doubt you are correct. It's Vegas, land of the vapid where flash counts more than substance, where every guido thinks if he drives the right car and puts enough glue in his hair he'll get the girl. He will, but anyone with a brain would;t want the girl for more than an hour.
        StephenT
        • 5 Months Ago
        @vegasstyleguy
        Rental cars maybe? The reason I say that is two years ago I wanted to rent a nicer car for a long trip here in the east and Enterprise had C250s. I'm just wondering if the rental fleets are substituting CLAs in for their former C250s. I would think Vegas would be the type of town that rents more upscale cars more often.
      Abhinav
      • 5 Months Ago
      Why do people buy these cars at all?? They have less luxury than the equivalent Ford or Toyota sedan (priced accordingly). Those cars probably have more power, room, and maybe a little worse handling. These cars are sure not as good as the Acura TL or the Volvo S60, which cost the same, but are much better cars. I feel bad for Acura & Volvo, especially Volvo, the new S60 has such a great engine and mechanics in it. Too bad fools and their money are parted all because they want a half @$$'d 4 rings or pointed star on their hood.
        The Rock_Dwayne J
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Abhinav

        Not even and I just went to the Volvo site configurator and it cost a lot more to get the car similar to what I ordered for my A3.

      quuppa70
      • 5 Months Ago
      who would buy Audi instead of Mercedes, lol
        11fiveoh
        • 5 Months Ago
        @quuppa70
        Me
        Quen47
        • 5 Months Ago
        @quuppa70
        Me too lol
        Michaele
        • 5 Months Ago
        @quuppa70
        Lots of people, "lol"
        The Rock_Dwayne J
        • 5 Months Ago
        @quuppa70
        The C-Class C250 Benz is what I had my hearts and dreams on but unfortunately to get with options that I like its priced beyond my means. That entry CLA250 looked too much like the Hyundai Sonata, who's designed looked amazing when I first got it, looks sort of like an eye sore today. All those swoopy lines. The Audi A3 speaks to me in every way.
      mikemaj82
      • 5 Months Ago
      Of course the A3 is selling more. That's why I've seen none on the road but tons of CLAs...
        Michaele
        • 5 Months Ago
        @mikemaj82
        Oh, so auto registration number/public records are all lies perpetrated by a conspiracy led by Audi?
      Kenya
      • 5 Months Ago
      non of you people commenting on the a3 have ever driven one . so why make negative comments about a car you know nothing about ? drive it , and you will see what a great car it is . stop the bullshit opinions and do some logical research . its better than a jetta corolla or a verano or anything else in its class . I know because I bought one 3 months ago . a 2.0 Quattro . its been flawess . fast nimble smooth , great quality and good mileage , 28-33 mpg all the time ! a fun practical ride !
        bullitt2605
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Kenya
        Sorry but the A3's proportions are all wrong, if I can't get past the exterior then there is no point in driving it. The Nissan Juke is really fun to drive, I had one for a rental but I would never buy one. The A3 is great for people that want an Audi but can't afford one of the good looking ones. I am sure it drives great but it's not a complete package. As mikemaj82 said above look for a used A or S4 something or but make sure it's under warranty.
        Prez
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Kenya
        Drove it and it left me uninspired. It's a very basic car. Interior is pretty bland and exterior...well typical Audi/VW conservative styling, nothing to write home about. Considering its a rather small car and a 2L engine the fuel economy is pathetic. The price? No thanks.
          whatever
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Prez
          Then why'd you waste your time with a test drive if you could have looked at pictures and come to the same conclusion. How did it drive?
        TBN27
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Kenya
        Only thing I can say is that I saw one brand new conk out on the road. Stuck in the middle lane and had the hazards on. Would this stop me from buying one? A resounding no. I got to sit in the European version of the car and I loved it at the car show. If it is reasonably priced I would snap one up. Unless the Verano turbo is cheaper. As far as that conk out, there is a warranty for that.
      luigi.tony
      • 5 Months Ago
      Time to rename Audi, Mercury. These rebadged VWs are bringing the Audi brand way down.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 5 Months Ago
        @luigi.tony
        "rebadged VW"? which VW is it rebadging?
          ex-ford
          • 5 Months Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          If you squint your eyes just right, it looks like a boring old Passat. I like the other Audis but this one needs to be sent back for an update already. At least the CLA actually stands out.
          mic414
          • 5 Months Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          afaik, the A3 has always been build on the Golf platform. I agree, it does look dated to me, too. I like the CLA's styling a lot more, to my eyes, that is a lot more youthful than the Audi. The sedan style doesn't look good on small vehicles due to the awkward trunk proportions, and the CLA does a better job hiding it.
      knightrider_6
      • 5 Months Ago
      The article forgot to mention that Honda Civic is vastly outselling both CLA and A3. Civic is not a German car, but it is pretty close in specs and features.
        what
        • 5 Months Ago
        @knightrider_6
        I'm a previous Civic owner, and you cannot compare the two. NVH levels of the Civic are much higher than the A3 (I haven't driven the CLA). The A3 has more power and more usable power thanks to the turbo. There's a reason the A3 costs more.
        TooManyCars
        • 5 Months Ago
        @knightrider_6
        They stick with your honda civic fanboy... Along with stupid $200/month lease for a honda...
          knightrider_6
          • 5 Months Ago
          @TooManyCars
          @TooManyCars Even better - the Civic lease is only $159 a month.
          TooManyCars
          • 5 Months Ago
          @TooManyCars
          @Knightrider, and as I stated with a full on explanation on another thread. You're a frickin moron if you lease a honda civic.... because it defeats the entire point of buying your run of the mill honda civic that you drive into the ground because of it's reliability...especially when such run of the mill cars comes with 0.0% loan financing from the manufacturer (unlike an audi or mercedes)... Something you can't get, when your lease is up, and if you decide to keep the car and you need to pay the residual value of it (which will be high for a honda)...Because no lender is going to offer you a 0.0% financing on a used car... That is, unless your credit/income doesn't allow you to qualify for 0.0% financing. In which case, most likely you shouldn't be buying/leasing a new car anyway.
          TooManyCars
          • 5 Months Ago
          @TooManyCars
          *Then*
          clquake
          • 5 Months Ago
          @TooManyCars
          Without knowing the buyer's financial and life situation, it stupid to assume a lease on a Civic is stupid. My friend leased one, knowing full well he would not be driving it when the lease was up. His kids fit in the back at the beginning of the lease, but towards the end, they could use a bit more room. Had he purchased, he would have dished out a lot more cash. Now he moves up to a larger car without having spent all that extra money.
        normc32
        • 5 Months Ago
        @knightrider_6
        You and karfreek need .tk join troops.
      joe shmoe
      • 5 Months Ago
      let's compare the first 3 months of CLA vs first 3 months of A3. this 2 to 1 comp is just BS.
        joe shmoe
        • 5 Months Ago
        @joe shmoe
        In the first 3 months, CLA moved 10,828 In the first 3 months, A3 moved 7735
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