RE: Mercedes CLA: Driven

RE: Mercedes CLA: Driven

Tuesday 12th March 2013

Mercedes-Benz CLA: Driven

Downsized CLS lookalike for posh Golf money - genius or niche fakery too far?



The CLA is a Mercedes for people who can't afford a proper Mercedes, right? A front-wheel drive four-door coupe based off a family hatchback, propelled by four-pot engines offering a 170hp diesel max at launch in the UK. Come on.

Half the price of a CLS but is it half the car?
Half the price of a CLS but is it half the car?
But is it really just another niche filled in the Mercedes marketing plan?

The CLA is intended to bring fresh blood into showrooms, targeting people who would never have previously considered the brand - the edgy visuals an attempt to excoriate any remaining vestiges of stuffiness, that faint but lingering whiff of old man. But it also redefines the economic realities of sporting Merc ownership - costing roughly half the price of the CLS it so obviously wants to be when it grows up, it starts at under 25 grand.

If the chassis talks, the niche marketing walks...
Initial UK supply is limited to 122hp CLA180 1.6 turbo petrol and 170hp CLA220 CDI, which makes up for being one of those noisy 2.1-litre turbodiesels with its surging 258lb ft of torque. The diddy petrol was strangely absent from the drive roster in Marseilles, but the diesel quickly makes it clear that Mercedes isn't messing about.

A-Class has changed? No kidding!
A-Class has changed? No kidding!
At this point we could mention the ridiculous 0.23Cd figure - a production car record, at least until VW's XL1 finally gets a price - and the interior. Which is A-Class derived in a good way, with its X-Wing air vents and iPad-esque display. However, we'd prefer to highlight the chassis, which proves a pleasant surprise.

The CLA's consciously been set up less aggressively than the A-Class - including extra bushings for increased suspension isolation at the back. But hacking through traffic across the Route des Cretes , the resulting car is really rather nicely balanced, with stacks of grip, a pointy front end, and electrically assisted steering that's finely judged in relation to the body control.

Basically, it stays pretty flat, is remarkably allergic to understeer, and builds your confidence quickly ยฌ- making direction changes fluid, yet surefooted and assured, in a manner that's utterly Mercedes.

Front-drive for now, four-wheel drive to come
Front-drive for now, four-wheel drive to come
Front-wheel drive? Not entirely.
That's on the standard Sport's 'comfort' suspension. Upgrade to the angrier looking AMG Sport spec, and you get a Sport chassis with 30 per cent stiffer springs and 10-15mm lower ride height. This is even tighter through the turns, but the way it thumps into sunken French man hole covers suggests it may trade too much suppleness for too little additional incision to make total sense in the UK.

More interesting still is the CLA250 4Matic - which we should be getting later in the year. As the name suggests, this matches the potent 211hp 2.0-litre turbo petrol from the A-Class with Mercedes' latest Magna-developed four-wheel drive, neatly sidestepping those FWD complaints and becoming a kind of junior preview of AMG's forthcoming CLA45.

The combo is certainly effective, with huge traction and an extra level of agility that bodes very well for the Affalterbach special indeed.

Tablet-inspired nav among modern touches
Tablet-inspired nav among modern touches
And now for the bad news...
But before you blow the dust off the chequebook, there is some bad news. Not the strangely uncomfortable front seats, nor the limited rear headroom - rather the seven-speed automatic gearbox that replaces the six-speed manual on the faster engines.

The dual-clutch design is apparently great for economy, but its reluctance to give you timely downshifts on paddleshift command very nearly ruins the whole car.

In the end, you can drive round it - and the rest of the CLA is good enough that, given time, it becomes a minor annoyance instead of an intolerable calamity.

Taken as a whole, this is a fun four-door coupe with a three-pointed star for the price of a premium hatchback. And niche or not, a lot of people are surely going to love the hell out of that.


MERCEDES-BENZ CLA220 CDI
Engine:
2,143cc 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 170@3,400-4,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 258@1,400-3,400rpm
0-62mph: 8.2sec
Top speed: 143mph
Weight: 1,525kg
MPG: 67.2- 62.7 (depending on wheel size)
CO2: 109-117g/km (depending on wheel size)
Price: TBC

MERCEDES-BENZ CLA250
Engine:
1,991cc 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 211@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 258@1,200-4,000rpm
0-62mph: 6.7secs
Top speed: 149mph
Weight: 1,480kg
MPG: 46.3-45.5 (depending on wheel size)
CO2: 142-144g/km (depending on wheel size)
Price: TBC





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Author
Discussion

bluerainer101

Original Poster:

38 posts

109 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
No doubt its a decent car but couldn't they of made it look less like a Peugeot 307CC from the rear

em177

3,007 posts

128 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
A teeny bit less weight and rwd that could almost pass as a modern 190* I approve.


  • I may be pushing that a bit but you never know scratchchin

V8 FOU

2,778 posts

111 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
And.... only available in Resale Silver I suppose... yawn......

LotusOmega375D

5,354 posts

117 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
The world's been crying out for a whole new class of Mercedes.

There's scarcely enough letters in the alphabet to name them all.

Benjaminbopper

143 posts

133 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
Good looking, well priced and a cleverly positioned product.

90% of people who buy this won't care that it's FWD and with economy figures like that I can see this stealing many 3 series / A4 fleet drivers looking for a change.

deltashad

6,731 posts

161 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
Looks excellent. FWD will also surely pull in many who refuse to drive a real car.

I like it smile


Lazygraduate

1,739 posts

125 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
I think it's quite ugly! But I can see the appeal. A5 Sportback for me instead of this please

sideways man

952 posts

101 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
Oil burner would make a good commute mobile for me,given a few years depreciation. Big air vents to the side of the front bumper not entirely to my taste, but they might grow on me. Black for me please.

Graebob

2,172 posts

171 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
I really want to see this next to another car to get some idea of scale. It seems to look tiny and huge at the same time. Is it 1 series sized?

kambites

60,987 posts

185 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
Graebob said:
I really want to see this next to another car to get some idea of scale. It seems to look tiny and huge at the same time. Is it 1 series sized?
Longer, but otherwise about that size, yes. About the size of an Octavia, I suppose.

jon-

16,153 posts

180 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
Dual clutch 7 speed that doesn't respond?

We sure this isn't a more normal auto box?

sinbaddio

1,762 posts

140 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
Hmmm. If this is a success I guess we can expect a 1 series GranCoupe and an A3 Sportback on the horizon?

Escort Si-130

2,691 posts

144 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
Posh Golf money???? I dont see anything "posh" about a Golf. Over rated imo.

Escort Si-130

2,691 posts

144 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
LOL, that is the downside. Hope to see other colours as silver really pisses me off. Also await the AMG version of this.

V8 FOU said:
And.... only available in Resale Silver I suppose... yawn......

Escort Si-130

2,691 posts

144 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
A5 sportback, ugly as fk and just does not look right at the rear.

Lazygraduate said:
I think it's quite ugly! But I can see the appeal. A5 Sportback for me instead of this please

MagicalTrevor

6,427 posts

193 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
The 'tablet' display looks terribly out of place and a bit too '3rd party mount' for my liking. Should have been more neatly integrated or even just have a proper iPad Mini / Nexus 7 / MB branded Android tablet that could be removed.

MrBurt

120 posts

110 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
These iPad-esque displays concern me. How many smacked out their head addicts will smash the window thinking its an iPad and end up causing hundreds of pounds of damage finding out it's not.
Does look a bit 307 Cab from the back which is not a good look and I thought dual clutch boxes are super responsive not the other way around. Feels like the kind of trait that would drive you crazy over time rather than getting use to it.
Not convinced by the shape or the choice of engines and gearboxes.

Fast Bug

9,250 posts

125 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
It's the same size as the current C Class saloon, I'm fairly sure Audi are launching an A3 saloon soon to compete with it

Sexual Chocolate

1,583 posts

108 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
Looks like if you had people in the back of it it would be a bit cramped. Is this the case?

LotusOmega375D

5,354 posts

117 months

Tuesday 12th March 2013
quotequote all
I'm surprised it's C-Class size (they all look big to me anyway!).

One bit of information surprised me:

"MPG: 67.2- 62.7 (depending on wheel size)"

So your choice of wheel can potentially add another 7% to your fuel economy?