When Mercedes-Benz announced the A-Class saloon last year, we thought the CLA had been consigned to the history books. We were wrong. The new CLA is alive and kicking, borrowing much from the A-Class – on which it is based – this sleek four-door-coupe offers a sportier and more exclusive package than its sibling.
The CLA is longer and wider than the forthcoming A-Class saloon, promising a more dynamic driving experience.
For those looking at a C-Class, if rear legroom is not a priority then the CLA could be a more cost-effective and stylish alternative.
UK prices start at £30,325 (P11D), for the entry-level CLA 180. Only AMG Line trim is available, with the option of Premium or Premium Plus equipment lines.
Only petrol models are available to order at the moment, although the RDE2-compliant 220d diesel will make its way here by the time the car is available in the summer.
For now, the CLA 180 is the most frugal, with CO2 emissions of 123g/km and the promise of 42-47mpg average fuel economy.
It uses a 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol, delivering 136PS. A more potent version, badged CLA 200 pumps out 163PS and emits just 1g/km more CO2.
The more potent 2.0-litre petrol engine is good for 190PS, but its 139g/km CO2 figure is likely to deter fleet customers.
As the engines are lifted straight from the A-Class it was a case of ‘business-as-usual’. All models perform well, with the larger capacity versions providing a more refined experience.
We also tested the diesel and found it to provide excellent performance and return great fuel economy. Official figures are yet to be released, but during our test the trip computer was reading almost 60mpg. RDE2 certification means fleet drivers will pay less tax too.
We were also able to drive the 180d, although it’s not confirmed for UK sale yet it is more than adequate and does a decent enough job of hauling the CLA around.
With any engine, we were especially impressed by how quiet the CLA is on the move. Wind noise is minimal, even at high speeds – as we discovered on our German test-route.
Front seat passengers may find the A-Class-derived seats are less comfortable than those offered in a C-Class. It’s due to the headrest being part of the seat, rather than a separate item with height adjustment.
With its dashboard lifted from the A-Class, the CLA enjoys the same classy interior as the hatchback.
Premium models and above get a pair of 10.25-inch screens providing digital instruments and infotainment. It’s a setup originally derived from the S-Class.
The use of high quality materials, ambient lighting and a minimalist approach to switchgear lifts the interior’s premium feel.
In the rear, leg and head room is limited despite the car being larger than its predecessor. The boot is spacious, offering 460 litres, although the opening is quite small.
There is no shortage of gadgets available on the CLA. It benefits from Mercedes’ latest driver assistance package (£1,495), which provides adaptive cruise control that can automatically adjust to changing speed limits, lane keep assist that can change lanes automatically once you activate the indicator and blind spot monitoring.
Drivers can control a range of car functions using the voice-activated “Hey Mercedes” concierge system. The car can also link to a phone app for enhanced connectivity.
The CLA sets itself apart from the A-Class range with subtle styling tweaks, a more driver-focussed chassis and a high level of equipment across the range. It provides fleet customers with a more exclusive package, sportier styling and still works out cheaper than a C-Class – although outright practicality is at a disadvantage.
Running cost data is not yet available for this model.