Test Drive: Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 CDI automatic image

One of the best looking vehicles in its segment, the Mercedes-Benz CLA has been in production since 2013 and it is based on the same platform as the new A-Class generation, which has also been used on the GLA crossover.Engine and Transmission

The tested car had a 1.8 liter diesel burner under its hood, which was producing a total output of 136 HP (100 kW) at 3,600 rpm, and 300 Nm (221 lb-ft) of torque, available from just 1,600 rpm. The engine may seem underpowered at some points but if this happens, make sure to switch into the “Sport” driving mode and even if this won’t turn your car into a CLA45 AMG, it will be enough to make you pass the vehicle in front of you safely.

The CLA has front-wheel drive and this can be a drawback for those of you who are used to RWD or to the 4MATIC four-wheel drive but happily the vehicle has been well balanced and its ability to go around corners won’t disappoint. Understeer will eventually kick in, but it will do it rather fast than late so you will still be able to enjoy some tire squeak.

Usually when buying the CLA clients go for the manual transmission because of the pricing problem but if you have a few euros to spend you should definitely check out the 7-speed automatic which, in this version, is also offered with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. It may not be as good as the DCT made by BMW but it’s still better than the DSG, and this should say a lot.

Fuel Consumption

The Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 CDI is burning, officially, 5.5 liters of fuel in the urban environment, 3.8 liters on the highway and an average of 4.4 liters every 100 km. The weird trip computer found inside was indicating more than 6 liters / 100 km burned in the city, 4.5 L / 100 km on the highway, at approximately 110 km/h, with the AC on, and an average of just over 5L. This can only be considered close to perfection because, let’s not forget, we are talking about a 1.8-liter car with an automatic transmission. Don’t get me wrong, during the short bursts of acceleration, the fuel burned will be close to 10L, but you won’t pass 8L / 100 km even in a crowded city, in “Sport” mode, with the throttle to the floor, dodging “obstacles”.

Interior Design

When I first stepped inside the CLA it was plain love at first sight. The sports seats are very comfortable, the dashboard layout is amazing, the aluminum inserts made me feel like I was 18 years old once more and that my car was the greatest on the road. But enough about me because if you haven’t driven a Mercedes-Benz before you will feel staggered when you will want to turn on your windshield wipers and you will realize that you have shifted out of “Park” mode. The same happens when wanting to turn on the headlights and you will see the windshield wipers go bananas. This can be easily avoided by checking the drawings on them and you will easily get used to it. In fact, I found it easier to shift from “Drive” to “Reverse” in the CLA than in most cars.

The sports seats equipping the cabin have a double role of taking care of your back and other fragile parts of your body and to gain the admiration of anyone looking through the window at them or through the open door. And since I mentioned the doors, I also have to tell you that the CLA has frameless windows, which give it an even sportier and chic look. No wonder this was named an “elegant four-door coupe”.

The cheap iDrive imitation was a drawback and Mercedes-Benz lost points here because it could have came with a more original idea. This only has two buttons next to the main controller which allow you to shift through navigation, media, phone, system and so on. The digital screen found between the two gauges gains a big plus because it displays the song played, the incoming or outgoing call, the phone book, part of the navigation system or some of the interior settings. These can be accessed through the controls found on the steering wheel.

The three main air vents found in the middle of the dashboard are a Mercedes-Benz signature. The other buttons are where you would expect them to be, in reach for the driver and you have a lot of storage spaces for your phone, your wallet and so on. The front armrest can slide forwards and backwards and there is enough legroom on the rear seats for your 2.1 passengers. This can’t be said on the head room but this is a good compromise for driving a four-door coupe. The quality of the materials used in the cabin is quite good and even if there is some cheap plastic amongst them, it’s not noticeable because of the aluminum inserts.

Likes / Dislikes

The exterior design of the car is close to perfection. It has a long nose with an aggressive front fascia, an elegant rear end and a sloping roofline. It sits close to the ground and on large wheels, quickly gaining a lot of admiration from other traffic participants. The interior is even better, the seats are comfortable, the buttons are where they supposed to be, the driving position is low, you get frameless windows, a low fuel consumption engine and a good transmission.

On the other hand the compromise for buying a four-door coupe is that rear headroom will be sacrificed. Getting used to the gearshift selector will take time, as it will with the windscreen wipers command. I also have to mention the price in the “Dislike” category because the CLA is definitely not a cheap vehicle.

Entry-level – 27,490 euros
Tested car – 45,111 euros

Tested Vehicle
Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 CDI 7G-DCT
Engine: 1.8L diesel (1,796 cc)
Power: 136 HP @ 3,600 – 4,400 rpm
Torque: 300 Nm @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic double-clutch
Dimensions: length 4,630 mm, width 1,777 mm, height 1,432 mm
Weight: 1,480 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50L
Trunk Capacity: 470L
0-100km/h: 9.3s
Top Speed: 220 km/h

4.8 / 5