The Mercedes CLA is your new entry level car into elite status known as a Mercedes owner.
Even pop star Nikki Minaj alludes to the brands status in her song as she asks a guy for the keys to his Benz without knowing he really owns one, but if he doesn’t then he isn’t her type. The new car has a lot of preconceived expectations to live up to if it wants to be part of the brands image. So let us review what is known about the CLA250, and see if it lives up to its name or falls short of its brand image. The CLA250 comes with a 2.0-liter turbo four developing 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque; which achieves 0-60 in 6.7 seconds. For a car its size this is actually not bad considering its small engine. Downsizing has been an auto manufacturing trend as of late and it looks like Mercedes is following suit. Mercedes usually doesn’t follow trends it makes them so one new trend that appears to be catching on is aerodynamics. The CLA has a drag coefficient of .22; a world best for a mass produced vehicle. The lesser the drag (resistance) the more efficiently the CLA can cut through the air giving you better fuel economy and quicker acceleration. Thus far the CLA is definitely a Mercedes Benz. It has been German engineered down to its nuts and bolts. The interior of the car also oozes of Benz like quality. From the MB tex simulated leather, a power adjustable driver seat, and a sea of buttons, and all the same materials and soft touch panels used on its higher end siblings the CLA feels from touch to pedal. This touch and feel is where the brand similarity ends. The noise from the turbo four is very buzzy and un-Benz like. The required 7spd automatic struggles to shift into the desired gear and often up shifts and down shifts at undesired moments. Then it comes to those buttons and what those buttons do and don’t actually do. The CLA has too shed a lot of jewelry standard on its bigger siblings to make an entry level price of under 30k. A glass roof, heated seats, Harmon/Kardon stereo, power passenger seat, dual climate control and iPod connectivity are not standard and have to be added on as a premium or luxury packages, and individual packages. Adding on these features will quickly put you into the $40,000.00 and beyond range for your CLA250. The other down side to this car is something addressed in Europe but not being addressed state side. To put it lightly the suspension is just that, very light. It gives a ride on the rougher side of town while not actually driving on the rough side of town. This ride quality is more reminiscent of a Smart Fortwo than it is a car designed to be a mini CLS. You also have the issue of the backseat in the CLA. It is cramped! You can barely fit anyone larger than a kid in the backseat. Long distance in this car would be a jarring and cramped ride of torture for an adult. So in summery it looks like a Mercedes but doesn’t quack like a Mercedes. Of course if you want pay 5-15k more to have it upgraded it then the CLA will be a lot more like its bigger brother the CLS. My take away; however, is by that time you’ve spent $40,000-$50,000 on your Mini CLS wouldn’t it have been better to buy the original certified used CLS550 with all the bells and whistles you just to paid extra for?