Entry-stage sedan does its greatest to dwell as much as the model’s status
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: I just like the CLA250 — it’s fashionable and rattling close to proportionally good to my eye. It’s properly geared up and has a pleasant cabin worthy of a more expensive car (although the again-seat room is tight). The chassis feels certain-footed, and since that is all-wheel drive there’s grip aplenty. Like different CLAs I’ve pushed, there’s a bizarre sensation, a lag, if you shift the automobile into gear. Put the automobile in drive and nothing occurs till you give it some throttle, then the automobile can jerk ahead. Like I stated, bizarre, regardless that the extra time I spent behind the wheel the smoother and extra practiced I bought at launching.
I don’t know if it’s the transmission or the turbo-4 inflicting the above talked about. Possibly it’s each. As soon as underway the whole lot’s high quality: loads of energy and that is one hell of a versatile 4-cylinder (it’s additionally noisy at idle). The automotive has a light-weight-on-its-toes feeling. It’s agile. The journey is agency(ish), however potholes didn’t appear to upset issues. As I mentioned, the grip is excessive, which permits slicing via corners shortly — there’s little physique roll.
The automobile appears to be promoting nicely — 16K and alter have moved to date this yr, in comparison with 5,300 small BMWs. About 17,000 Audi A3s have bought in that very same interval. I suppose it’s a bit early to learn how the CLA is impacting the three-pointed star lengthy-time period, a query we’ve been elevating because the automobile got here out. Does Mercedes, BMW, Audi and, sure, Cadillac all constructing extra down-market fashions so to talk devalue their manufacturers? Do individuals even care? I’m satisfied Benz, BMW, Audi and possibly even Cadillac consumers keep in their very own yards. A Benz proprietor thinks the BMW man is a poseur, the BMW pilot thinks the Benz proprietor is an outdated fart, the Audi driver thinks each Benz and BMW are for Florida retirement communities and Cadillac — nicely, I’m unsure what the hell is happening with Cadillac. Does it even have any followers? Gross sales are down within the first six months of the yr. Truck gross sales are sturdy, vehicles are weak. I’m pondering at this level Cadillac would identical to extra house owners, interval. Nonetheless, I actually can’t blame any firm making an attempt to draw youthful patrons. When it launched the CLA, Benz stated it believes its model “strengths” permit it to develop towards younger prospects who may by no means have thought of a Mercedes-Benz earlier than, rolling the cube in providing cheaper, much less premium automobiles and hoping it doesn’t dilute the id. In different phrases, “this ain’t charity work, youngsters; we’re on this to earn a living and we gotta determine a solution to substitute our outdated consumers.” That’s true for any firm, not simply premium automakers.
All that stated, the CLA250 is a pleasant little automotive.
The instrument panel incorporates 5 air vents.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: “Premium” and “luxury” aren’t mutually unique, however the two phrases aren’t fairly interchangeable both. Take the Hyundai Equus. By any metric, it’s a luxurious automotive — it actually checks all of the requisite bins, doesn’t it? However Hyundai isn’t perceived as a premium model, and there’s not a lot it may well do about that within the brief time period.
Conversely, there’s the CLA250 4Matic. Probably the most luxurious issues about this automotive are most likely its tri-star emblem and its styling, each of which visually tie it to costlier automobiles that use metallic, not plastic, for his or her inside switchgear. The drivetrain is okay at cruising speeds however clunky in cease-and-go site visitors — twin- and multiclutches actually have a methods to go in the event that they need to meet up with the smoothness of a nicely-calibrated automated (however then, these new 9-velocity auto gearboxes have a methods to go in the event that they need to meet up with the smoothness of a nicely-calibrated computerized).
We’ve harped on inside high quality earlier than, but it surely’s actually not unhealthy – it’s simply not as good as the remainder of the Mercedes-Benz lineup.
So, whereas CLA isn’t a horrible automobile by any stretch of the creativeness, it simply doesn’t do many luxurious automobile issues very properly. You don’t really feel pampered at any level through the drive expertise, even when all of it does appear pretty nicely engineered, pretty trustworthy — the Germans don’t lie about gasoline financial system, to their credit score — and pretty properly bolted-collectively.
But when we take into account Mercedes-Benz to be a premium firm that occurs to construct some luxurious automobiles, the CLA makes a bit extra sense (a minimum of to me). That’s the place the automaker occupies in different markets, the place loaded S-classes, utilitarian G-wagens and tiny A-class metropolis vehicles all appear to coexist fortunately, and E-class sedans of various trims can function each taxi cabs and private autos for higher-center-administration sorts.
I’m undecided what, precisely, goes into establishing a model’s premiumness — or retaining it locked down for generations. If I understood the way it all labored, I’d be making the massive bucks as a Model Advisor or one thing. Regardless, recognizing the luxurious/premium distinction helps make a case for the CLA — and excuses a few of what we understand as its shortcomings. Need much less plastic within the cabin? Ought to have gone the posh route with a C-class, however a minimum of you might be proud to be seen driving a premium product!
However, in the event you admit that the CLA is a non-luxurious automobile from a premium model, you’ll need to face the truth that you simply paid $forty six,460 for a automotive that’s probably not any extra opulent than a loaded Buick Verano. If that doesn’t part you, go for it.
The sculpted AMG decrease physique styling underscores the shoulders and arched roofline.
EDITORIAL INTERN JUSTINE WOODARD: I must agree with Wes on nearly every little thing. I took the CLA250 dwelling for the weekend, and the very first thing I seen was the roominess of the entrance seats. I didn’t just like the infotainment system since you may solely view one program at a time, whether or not that’s radio, navigation or media. I’m used to viewing all the pieces directly on my Ford’s system. I additionally felt like one thing was lacking on the sprint, however I couldn’t put my finger on it.
My fiancé and I drove to Toledo, and the hour drive felt like half that within the Benz. With the automobile being so low to the bottom, I believed I would really feel each bump, particularly with the freeway being filled with building. The CLA stunned me: The journey was clean over a lot of the bumpy stuff.
The transmission did shift seamlessly, however I hated placing the automobile in reverse as a result of, as Wes talked about, you needed to give it a bit little bit of gasoline to get the automobile rolling and it might ship you jolting backward.
My brother and sister needed to take a journey within the Merc as a result of they thought they may by no means get the possibility once more. They shortly realized there was not a lot room within the again. My sister sat down and stated, “Now that I’m in it, it’s not all that.” She shortly jumped out of the automotive and hopped into one other automobile. In Mercedes’ protection, she’s 15 years outdated and is all the time transferring from one factor to the following.
I believe my teenage little sister is mistaken in regards to the German automotive. It’s all that. Properly, not less than, a few of that. I had a number of individuals come as much as me and inform me how lovely the automobile was, and the stares I bought on the street have been nice. Little automobiles from Audi and BMW have some competitors with this CLA … who cares about diluting the model anyway?
The outside’s sporty look additionally carries by means of to the automobile inside.
Choices: Multimedia Package deal ($2,480), Premium Package deal ($2,300), Sport Package deal ($2,200), panorama sunroof ($1,480), bixenon headlamps with LED taillights ($850), blind-spot help ($550), illuminated star ($550), 18-inch AMG multi-spoke black wheels ($500), ambient lighting ($a hundred and fifty five), aluminum trim ($a hundred and fifty), sport suspension ($a hundred)