2021 Lemon Aid New Car Reviews - Premium Compact Cars and Crossovers

In the past, if manufacturers elected to move up or downmarket, they would create a new sub-brand to market the vehicles. BMW launched MINI when it wanted to move downmarket and Honda, Nissan and Toyota respectively breathed life into Acura, Infiniti and Lexus to market their luxury products. Conjuring up a new vehicle marque and promoting it is a fiercely expensive process and one that has fallen out of favour.

Manufacturers now prefer to stretch the boundaries of what their established brands represent to setting up sub-brands if they decide to move out of their traditional market segments. In addition, some specialist vehicles from mainstream manufactures, are priced sufficiently above traditional vehicle categories that they must be placed into a category that reflects their unusual nature.

To track this trend and move with the times, the APA created a new Premium Compact category several years ago and continues with it for 2021. A number of cars and crossovers in this category don't really fit into the sections other vehicles bearing the same brand name are generally found in, and so are in this Premium Compact section.

Vehicles covered within in the envelope of Premium Compact category include the CLA, GLA and GLB from Mercedes-Benz and the Q3 from Audi, all four of which represent a move downmarket by their makers. Occupying this category as well are cars from MINI, which are premium priced, and the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf, which are priced far higher than conventional cars of the same size. Another car covered in this section is the Acura ILX.

There is little new this year other than a significant late-cycle update for the MINI Cooper. The Chevrolet Bolt iand the Hyundai Ioniq are in their last year in their current forms and Audi discontinued its A3 model with no replacement on the horizon, odd considering it sold 2057 units in 2020. The 2020 Kia Niro was still on sale in March of 2021 and may miss this year altogether. 

Acura ILX  Hyundai Ioniq  Mecerdes-Benz CLA  MINI Countryman 
Audi Q3  Kia Niro  Mercedes-Benz GLB  Nissan LEAF 
Chevrolet Bolt  Mercedes-Benz A-Class  MINI Cooper  Subaru WRX & STI 

2021 MINI Countryman 

 

NOT RATED

 

 

What’s new
Exterior updates for 2021 include a new grille, fascia and standard L.E.D. headlamps up front and a revised rear fascia and Union Jack-patterned taillights. A Piano Black trim package is newly offered this year. Inside, the centre instrument display is now 8.8 inches and a 5 inch digital display is new for 2021. Leather upholstery options have been updated this year.  

Performance
The 1.5L turbo triple has become more refined over the years and is now acceptably smooth as well as sufficiently quick. In MINI tradition, handling is crisp. The ride is reasonably supple considering the crisp handling. The cabin of the Countryman retains a very MINI look, but what was one a scattergun approach to ergonomics has been replaced by like the smaller Cooper, the previously scattergun ergonomics have been replaced by straightforward controls. The Countryman cabin is very stylish, with attractive cabin fittings and lots of soft-touch surfaces. Chic two-tone cabin trim options combines with abundant attractive faux alloy trim to form a fashionable cabin. Cargo space is reasonable with the rear seat in place and versatile with it folded.
Comments

Though the Countryman is an XXL size it still looks like a MINI. Very elegant interior and reasonable cargo space. The Clubman and Countryman are similar in size and concept that, to outsiders, overlap one another. 

Pricing

The 2L Cooper S is priced $3000 higher than a Cooper 1.5T that is similarly equipped. Upgrading to the John Cooper Works version of the 2L costs $7100 more than a Cooper S. The PHEV version of the car is priced $12,000 higher than a 1.5L with the same equipment. The PHEV is expensive but does trigger a $2500 Federal government rebate, $4000 from Quebec and $1500 from British Columbia. The Classic and Premier trim levels are good value and the Premier+ model is priced to reflect the value of its additional content. Expensive leather upholstery options.   

Reliability
Below average. Servicing costs are similar to those for a German luxury car. Short powertrain warranty with no coverage past four years/80,000 km. Leasing for no longer than the warranty is recommended. 

Specifications


Body Style:  4HB
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
1.5L-3 T (134 HP)*, 2L-4T (189 HP: John Cooper Works: 301 HP), 1.5L-3 T H (221 HP)

Transmissions: 8A 
Drive Layout: All-wheel drive*

City Fuel Economy:  10L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy: 7.4L/100 km

Active Safety Features: Optional adaptive cruise control with autonomous emergency braking 


Warranty: 4/80,000 with no further powertrain warranty.

Current Generation Debut:  2017
Country of Origin: Unknown

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: n/r

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: n/r

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 

 

 

 

What’s new
No changes of note for 2021.

Comments
While Canada gets both the hatchback and sedan body styles, only the sedan is offered in the United States. Like other current Mercedes cars, both A-Class variants are attractive and immediately identifiable as originating from Stuttgart's design studios.
The cabins of the A-Class do not have a conventional instruments, but employ a rectangular multi-configurable computer tablet which may not be to all tastes. Equally polarizing are very glitzy dashboard vents. MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience), a Siri-like in car concierge, that responds to a "Hey Mercedes" verbal prompt, is a feature of the car. A horizontal touchpad based user interface will likely prove as unsuited to in-car use as similar systems used by Acura and Lexus.
The front seats are firmly supportive but the rear seat is mounted too low for adult comfort. Considering its space-efficient front-wheel drive mechanical layout, the A-Class has limited rear seat legroom. Headroom is quite reasonable in the hatchback but is limited on the sedan.
Power stems from a turbocharged 2L four with 221 horsepower and a robust 258 lb-ft of torque or a performance version, sold as the AMG 35, with 302 horsepower. Regardless of the engine, torque reaches all wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission.
Though they share the same engine, the 221 horsepower version of the sedan is marketed as the A220, with the hatchback bearing the A250 moniker.

Pricing

A220-250
Only one trim level, with a variety of option packages and single options, is available. With auto climate control, a large format sunroof, L.E.D. headlamps and a power driver's seat, the base A-Class is nicely equipped. The Premium, Night and Tech packages are overpriced but the Sport group and Intelligent drive package are reasonable value. At $1900, leather seating is expensive, but real wood trim fillets cost only $250. Most metallic paints are an $890 option but if you like the look of Mountain Grey Magno you will need deep pockets, as it costs $2500. Packaged the same as the hatch and with the same engine, the A-Class sedan is oddly marketed as the A220 4Matic compared with the A250 4Matic hatch. Though equipment levels are similar, the A250 hatch is priced $2100 higher than the A220 sedan.
AMG 35
The AMG 35 versions of the sedan is priced $12,000 higher than that of the A220, with the supplement for the hatchback priced $9900 higher; interestingly, the sedan and hatchback AMGs are priced the same.

Reliability
Below average. Servicing costs are very high and many new customers for the Mercedes junior cars will be shocked at servicing costs that buyers of the Mercedes senior line shrug off. The pre-paid service plans on the A250, $1179 for three services at 20,000 km intervals and $1749 for four services at 20,000 km intervals, are highly recommended. Short powertrain warranty with no coverage past four years/80,000 kilometres makes leasing for no longer than the powertrain warranty advisable.  

Specifications


Body Style:  4HB
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
2L-4 T (221 HP, AMG 35 302 HP estimated)

Transmissions: 7A dual clutch 
Drive Layout: All-wheel drive*

City Fuel Economy:  9.4L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy: 6.8L/100 km.


Active Safety Features: Standard forward collision and autonomous emergency braking. Optional blind spot assist, rear cross traffic assist and active lane keeping assist, active steering assist, active lane change assist, active distance assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go
Warranty: 4/80,000 with no further powertrain warranty.

Current Generation Debut: 2019 
Country of Origin: Germany

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: n/r

Mod. Front: n/r

Side: n/r

Roof: n/r

Sm. Front Pass.: n/r

Head/Seat: n/r

Headlight: n/r

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Mercedes-Benz CLA

 

NOT RATED

 

What's New
No changes of note for 2021.

Comments
The advent of the A-Class moved the CLA upmarket in terms of size and price to the point where it becomes the most expensive version of the Mercedes junior, front-wheel drive- based lineup. The CLA is so close in size and price to the C-Class, the least expensive of the Mercedes traditional rear-wheel drive based senior line, one wonders why they renewed the CLA lineup for this generation. 
The current CLA retains an indentifiable silhouette, but, with less fussy styling accents than previously, the new car looks sleeker. The CLA's cabin, with its long, rectangular computer tablet instrumentation-infotainment screen and turbine style air vents, uses pieces from the related A-Class. The look is very high-tech but not to all tastes, with some commenting that the silver-painted vents look vulgar. The Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX, that was introduced on the A-Class, is also featured on the new CLA. The MBUX, which reacts to the phrase "Hey Mercedes" works like other audio-based concierge services that are becoming increasingly ubiquitous.
The mainstream CLA 250 is powered by 2L turbocharged four that is rated at 221 horsepower and an impressive 258 lb.ft. of torque. Power reaches all wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission. Like the previous CLA, there are two genuine (as opposed to a wheel and trim kit) AMG version of the car. The CLA AMG 35 is rated at 302 horsepower, with the CLA AMG 45 rated at 382 horsepower. The AMG 35 is hooked up to a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission, with an eight-speed unit used on the AMG 45.  

Pricing
With a power driver's seat, heated front seats, a large-format sunroof, the base CLA is nicely equipped. The Advanced Driver Assistance package is expensive, especially as much of its equipment is standard on a Toyota Corolla. The Premium package includes blind spot monitors, the iOS-Android cellphone interface, wireless cellphone charging and Keyless Go, is overpriced. 
Individual options like navigation, real wood trim fillets and a heated steering wheel, are reasonably priced. Metallic paint, from $890 to $2500, depending on the colour, is expensive and leather seating costs an extra $1990. Upgrading to the AMG 35 costs $8100, with the AMG 45 priced $16,100 higher than the CLA 250. 

Reliability
Not rated due to insufficient sales. Based on the latest version of the front-wheel drive-based architecture used for the junior lineup of Mercedes cars. If the previous CLA is a representation of future reliability, this new CLA will deliver befow average reliability. Leasing for no longer than the four year/80,000 km is recommended. No powertrain warranty past the basic warranty. The pre-paid service plans on the CLA250 is $1179 for three services at 20,000 km intervals and $1749 for four services at 20,000 km intervals. For AMG models, the three service plan is priced at $2079, with four services costing $3179. 

Specifications


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants: 2/3
Engines:
2L-4 T (221 HP*, 302 HP AMG 35, 382 HP AMG 45) 

Transmissions: 7A automated manual 
Drive Layout: All-wheel drive* 

City Fuel Economy: 9.8L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  7.1L/100 km
Active Safety Features:  Standard forward collision warning, including pedestrians, and autonomous emergency braking. Optional active blind spot and lane keep assist systems

Warranty: 4/80,000 with no further powertrain warranty

Current Generation Debut:  2020
Country of Origin: Hungary

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: n/r

Mod. Front: n/r

Side: n/r

Roof: n/r

Sm. Front Pass.: n/r

Head/Seat: n/r

Headlight: n/r

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Nissan Leaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s new
No known changes. 

Performance
With abundant instant torque and sufficient horsepower, the Leaf delivers strong, silent acceleration. The Leaf's steering is video game light at low speeds but gains some heft as velocity increases and has good directional stability at highway speeds. Handling is steady rather than involving but this is balanced by a fantastically compliant ride that has great absorbency without a trace of wallow. Unless using the one foot e-Pedal--which will bring the car to a stop without engaging the brake pedal--the Leaf's regenerative braking is totally transparent. Road and wind noise are both well suppressed. Unlike most recently-introduced BEVs, the battery pack of the Leaf is cooled by air, rather than liquid cooling. Under certain conditions, like a combination of higher temperatures and driving in hilly terrain, the battery pack can't cope and acceleration becomes lethargic. 
While the cabin of the current Leaf is more elegant and better finished than its predecessor, it is still disappointing in design terms as well as the quality of its components given that it is Nissan's technological standard bearer and a very expensive car. That said, the driver faces clear instrumentation and the controls for audio and climate functions are straightforward. The variable weather experienced during our time with the Leaf demonstrated that the heating and air conditioning work well. Our SL tester was equipped with heated seats front and rear, which can warm the occupants and reduce the need to use the energy gobbling electric heater during cooler weather.
The front seats are substantial and supportive, and while the driver has good space, the wide centre console makes all but the smallest front passenger feel confined. The rear seat of the new car is both peculiarly shaped, oddly placed and legroom is tight for the size of the car. The trunk is big, deep below the window line and with fold down rear seats, expandable.

Comments
The electric motor produces 147 horsepower, with 40 kWh (241 kilometre range) and 62 kWh (363 kilometre range) battery packs available. All Leafs are equipped with a 480V fast charging port. Both 115V and 220V charging cables are included on the Leaf. ConnectSM, with an iOS-Android interface can monitor the performance parameters of the car and perform various functions from your cell phone.

Pricing
Moving from the 40 kWh SV to the 62.5 kWh SV Plus, costs $5600. On the Plus models, migrating from the S to SV adds a hybrid heating system, fog lights, a 360 degree camera system, a power driver's seat, Nissan's ProPilot limited seff-driving suite and a plethora of other features, and is a bargain. The SL adds a Bose-branded audio system and leather seating, but is overpriced.  Taxpayer substidies of $8000 from Quebec, $5000 form B.C. and $5000 from the Federal Government, are available. Reasonable lease terms for 2021. 

Reliability
Not rated, new model. The previous Leaf was reliable but typical Nissan issues, like poor front ball joint durability and very expensive repairs, are to be expected.  

Specifications


Body Style:  4HB


Occupants: 2/3


Engines: Electric Motor (147 HP) 


Transmissions: None 


Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive


City Fuel Economy:  n/a
Highway Fuel Economy: n/a


Active Safety Features: Standard forward collsion warning including pedestrians, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot, rear cross traffic and driver awareness warnings. Optional adaptive cruise control and a lane centring device 


Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000, 8/160,000 (batteries)


Current Generation Debut:  2018


Country of Origin:  United States


IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: n/r

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: n/r

Sm. Front Pass.: n/r

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: n/r

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Subaru WRX/STI

 

 

What’s new
Very minor updates for a vehicle in its seventh, and likely, last year in its current form.

Performance

The WRX and STI offer phenomenal performance and exceptional balance for a roomy, practical sedan that can serve as an everyday family car. Refinement has improved over the years and the 2021 STI is remarkably smooth and quiet for a dedicated sporting car. While very traditional, the cabin of the WRX/STI is far from dated and is assembled from attractive components. Seat comfort is good, front and rear, and legroom is ample. 

Comments
Both engines can be hooked up to a six-speed manual transmission, but the CVT automatic is exclusive to the WRX and is not offered on the higher-performance STI.

Pricing

WRX: With  a sunroof, power driver's seat, blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors and active L.E.D. headlights, the Sport trim upgrade is priced to reflect the value of the additional content. The Sport-Tech, which adds luxuries like navigation, keyless entry and go, leather seating and a Harmon-Kardon branded audio system, matches content and pricing precisely.  The EyeSight package, with pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist, is  only included on CVT equipped cars. STI: the Sport trim, with Keyless Go, sunroof, blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors and a power driver's seat, is very good value. The Sport-Tech variants are overpriced. At up to around $10,400 more expensive than a similarly equipped WRX, the STI is virtually in a different market segment. The WRX and STI represent exceptional lease values for 2021. 

Reliability:
Predicted reliability is average at best for the first three or four years, declining after that. There is powertrain warranty past the four year 80,000 km basic warranty.    

Specifications


Body Style:  4SD


Occupants: 2/3


Engines: 2L-4 T (268 HP)*, 2.5L-4 T (310 HP)


Transmissions: 6M, CVT* 


Drive Layout: All-wheel drive


City Fuel Economy: 12.9L/100 km.
Highway Fuel Economy: 9.7L/100 km


Active Safety Features: WRX: EyeSight, standard with the CVT, includes a forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, a lane keep assist system and adaptive cruise control. Optional blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors.  STI: Optional blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors


Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000 km


Current Generation Debut: 2015


Country of Origin:  Japan


IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: G

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: P

 

NHTSA Rating:




Premium Compact Crossovers

 

2021 Audi Q3

 

 

What’s new
Forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, including pedestrians, are standard for 2021. There is a new Vorsprung Edition package on the Komfort trim, as well as a Black Optics package on the Progressiv and Techniks trims. Road sign recognition is standard on the Technik trim for 2021. 
Audi quietly introduced a less expensive version of the Q3, called the “40” in Audi’s nonsensical lexicon, mid-way through the 2021 model year.

Comments
Built on the Volkswagen A.G.'s increasingly ubiquitous MQB (Modularer Querbaukasten) architecture, the Audi Q3 is all new from the ground up. The new Q3 is built on a 77 mm (three inch) longer wheelbase and is 97 mm (nearly four inches) longer overall than before. The Canadian version of the Q3 is exclusively all-wheel drive (Quattro in Audi speak) and is powered by the 45 (in Audi's whimsical suffix system) version of its 2L turbo four. The sole transmission offered is a conventional eight-speed automatic.  
Styling of the new Q3 is fresh, and unlike a number of Audis like the current A4 and Q5, it is obvious that the Q3 is an all-new vehicle. The new Q3's cabin is very chic and constructed from more attractive materials than its predecessor. In addition to being elegant, the new Q3's cabin is significantly roomier and will easily accept four large adults.
The previous Q3 was designed before the advent of modern active safety equipment and had fallen behind in terms of the latest technology. The current Q3 offers adaptive cruise assist that incorporates adaptive cruise control and active lane assist, with longitudinal and lateral control.  

Pricing

40 
The “40” in Komfort trim is priced $2000 lower than the “45” of the same trim; with the Progressive “40” $2500 cheaper than its “45” showroom mate. Given the fact that, at this price level, where satisfaction is more important than value, the “40” seems like an odd move for Audi, especially as so many customers lease and the extra cost will be residualized, and the unpleasantness of the “40” engine will constantly remind owners that they should have opened their wallets a bit more. Moving up from the Komfort to Progressive adds blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors, a power tailgate with foot gesture opening, alloy cabin trim and a number of minor comfort and convenience items, at a reasonable price. The Vorsprung Edition is overpriced. The Advanced Driver assistance package is reasonably priced but its key feature, active cruise control, should be standard at this end of the market.

45
With a dual-pane sunroof, leather seating, power driver's seat, forward collision warning including pedestrians, as well as autonomous emergency braking, the base 45 Komfort is nicely equipped. With blind spot, rear cross traffic and lane departure monitors, alloy cabin trim a power tailgate, front and rear parking sensors and a number of minor items, the Progressiv trim upgrade offers very good value. The range-topping Technik trim, which adds navigation, a heated steering wheel, a 360 degree camera, auto dim mirrors and a name-brand audio system, is good value. Active cruise control with stop and go and self parking, can be added on the Progressive and Technik trims for $1150.  

Reliability:
Predicted reliability is average at best for the first three or four years, declining after that. There is powertrain warranty past the four year 80,000 km basic warranty.    

Specifications


Body Style:  4SD


Occupants: 2/3


Engines: 2L.4 T (228 HP)


Transmissions: 8-speed automatic transmission


Drive Layout: All-wheel drive


City Fuel Economy:  12.3L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy: 8.6L/100 km


Active Safety Features: Standard forward collision warning, including pedestrians and autonomous emergency braking. Optional lane keep assist, blind spot, rear cross traffic and lane depature monitors and adaptive cruise control with slop and go 


Warranty: 4/80,000 only, with no other powertrain coverage


Current Generation Debut: 2019


Country of Origin:  Hungary


IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: G

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: P

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250

 

NEW

 

What’s new
No changes of note for 2021.

Comments
Though still based on the front-wheel drive-based junior lineup from Mercedes, the GLB jettisons the low-slung soft-roader looks of the GLA for a more serious and traditional crossover look. Built on a 130 mm (5.1 inch) longer wheelbase, the GLB is 210 mm (8.3 inches) longer, and 150 mm (5.9 inches) taller than the GLA. Very tight rear seat accommodations, a real issue with the GLA, should be neatly resolved on the GLB. Mercedes will offer an optional seven seat GLB, but the third-row may be more of a catalogue line item than a place to actually locate passengers. Cargo space evaporates with the third-row seat deployed. The exterior styling is very squared rigged, looking a bit tall and narrow, like some of the Kei class cars from Japan. The cabin follows the themes first explored on the A-Class, using the same long rectangular computer tablet in place of a gauge package, as well as the distinctive circular vents as its platform mate. Like the A-Class, the GLB offers the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), which is a Siri-style vocal concierge that responds to a "Hey Mercedes" prompt.  
Power units,  a 221 horsepower 2L turbo four hooked up to an eight-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission, are shared with the A-Class. An AMG variant, featuring a 302 horsepower version of the 2L, is also offered. A front-wheel drive biased all-wheel drive system, marketed as 4MATIC, will be standard. Mexico is the production site for the GLB.

Pricing

The GLB is marketed in a single trim with a number of option packages and individual options. At over $46,000, the GLB is expensive given it is one of the junior lineup of cars from Mercedes. A third-row seat, which is more of a catalogue item rather than a realistic prospect, is a $1300 option. Like other cars in the Mercedes junior lineup, a panoramic sunroof, power driver's seat, heated front seats and remote start are all standard on the GLB. The Premium package adds the iOS-Android cellphone interface, blind spot monitors and Keyless Go, but is seriously overpriced. The Sport and Navigation packages are reasonably priced but the Technology package is expensive. A forward collision monitor and autonomous emergency braking are standard, but blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors are optional, as is active cruise control. Leather seating will set you back $1990 and most metallic paint colours cost $890 extra. The high-power AMG 35 version of the GLB is priced $11,000 higher than the mainstream GLB 250.

Reliability: Not rated, insufficient information. Based on the latest version of the front-wheel drive architecture as the A-Class. The GLA ages poorly and the long-term prospects for this vehicle are not good. Predicted reliability is below average. Short powertrain warranty. Mercedes-Benz scheduled service contract (36 months for $999 and $1499 for 48 months) for the GLB 250.   

Specifications


Body Style:  4CUV


Occupants: 2/3, 2,3,2


Engines: 2L‑4T (221 HP, AMG 302 HP)


Transmissions: 8A dual clutch 


Drive Layout: All-wheel drive


City Fuel Economy:  10.3L/100 km.
Highway Fuel Economy:  7.8L/100 km


Active Safety Features: Standard forward collision warning including pedestrians, autonomous emergency braking and a driver awareness warning. Optional blind spot and driver awareness warnings and a lane keep assist system and active cruise control


Warranty: 4/80,000 with no additional powertrain warranty


Current Generation Debut:  2020

Country of Origin:  Mexico


IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: n/r

Mod. Front: n/r

Side: n/r

Roof: n/r

Sm. Front Pass.: n/r

Head/Seat: n/r

Headlight: n/r

 

NHTSA Rating:


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