MotorTrend has gotten very good at head to head video reviews, and their latest one is no exception. This time, the new BMW M235i goes up against the Mercedes CLA45 AMG. Both cars represent the smaller, more nimble side of each automaker’s lineup, but still pack a punch under the hood. Check out the video above to see who Motor Trend crowns the victor. The winner just might surprise you.

Staffer Jonny Lieberman starts out carving canyon roads in both cars. Turns out, he’s quite fond of the BMW’s power output from the 3.0-liter, inline-six and its eight-speed automatic. As a whole, the car looks better than the old 1 Series, as Jonny heralds it as having the best looking BMW front end in a long time. The BMW seems to have only one major drawback: its brakes. Though the do stop a few feet shorter than the CLA45 AMG’s, they tend to fade and have inconsistent pedal feel. Otherwise, the M235i appears to be a hoot to drive with its drift-happy rear end.

Conversely, the CLA45 AMG produces more power from its 2.0-liter, turbocharged, inline four-cylinder, coming in at 360 horses and 331 pound-feet. Adding to its bag of tricks are its superb brakes with good pedal feel and fade-free stopping power. The car’s biggest downfall — dynamics-wise — is its understeer. Though its minimal compared to a regular sedan, the Mercedes just doesn’t grip the road in the same manner as the BMW. On a more subjective side, Jonny shares his distaste for the CLA’s coupe-like sloping roofline and stubby rear end.

Which one is crowned the winner? Click past the jump to find out.

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG High Resolution Exterior
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Just as both cars exhibited good and bad qualities on the drive loop, those same qualities were further exposed on the unforgiving racetrack as MotorTrend’s resident racecar driver Randy Pobst takes the wheel.

According to Randy, the BMW delivers the best driving dynamics and fun – minus the brakes – while the AMG was faster ‘round the track. It all comes down to what sort of car you’re looking for and how much money your wallet holds. The CLA45 AMG comes in at $48,000 while the BMW undercuts that by $4,000.

The competition apparently was too close to call an outright winner. Jonny ends by saying, “if only there was a car that was faster than the AMG on a race track, but was as much fun to drive as the BMW, but cost less than both of them…” just as a special guest car comes sliding sideways from off screen to halt front and center in a cloud of tire smoke. Watch the video above to find out Motor Trend’s winner.

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