By on August 27, 2014

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4MaticIf it looks like a Benz and goes like a Benz, it’s probably a Benz.

And if it’s missing some of the trademark Benz-like qualities you noticed in your friend’s well-off uncle’s W124 300E in the late 80s, it’s still a Benz.

So much a Benz, in fact, that numerous neighbours refused to believe that the bright red CLA250 4Matic that visited us in mid-August was Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level car. None of those neighbours visited the inside of the car.

When told that it’s a lesser car than the CLS or E or S or even C, those neighbours warm to a notion created over time, both by marketing and in their own aspirational minds, which says they could have all that inherent Mercedes-Benz goodness with an affordable price tag.

It sounds so easy: big brand, little car, the loss of some frivolous luxuries, the removal of a few horsepower, and a deep discount.

It’s not so easy.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic red frontMany a luxury item has been removed, and I’m alright with that, but then again, many such features have been added back into this particular Mercedes-Benz Canada car, which would cost slightly more than $40,000 in the U.S. if it could be equipped identically.

But with the loss of luxury features like massaging seats and air suspension from high-end models, and even with the re-insertion of premium features like navigation and Bi-Xenons and a big glass roof, the attractive CLA250 interior is let down by a large amount of cheap plastic through the centre console and a screen that’s unconvincingly tacked on.

The best aspect of the CLA’s interior is the look of it, from the vents to the seatbacks to the simple but elegant layout of the controls. As much as the centre-mounted screen isn’t attractively placed, it is functional, requiring very little removal of the driver’s eyes from the road. I’ll always prefer a control knob mounted between the front seats, as in the CLA, compared with a long reach forward to touch a screen.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4MaticThere’s even room in the rear of the CLA. It’s not abundant, but we crammed three adult males back there for a short back road jaunt. Something about the shape of the seats also makes the installation of a rear-facing car seat surprisingly easy, too, so long as you remember to watch your head (and the baby’s) when loading through the narrow rear door aperture.

With five adult males aboard and with the heavier all-wheel-drive configuration, the CLA250’s 258 lb-ft of torque still comes on strong. Soon enough. Whether you blame the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission or the turbo’s lag or Mercedes-Benz’s traditional lack of immediate throttle response, there’s a distinct pause at first. It’s easy enough to become accustomed to the engine, as it seems to punch above its weight once up to speed.

The DCT, however, is easily confused in Sport mode and overly interested in fuel economy when left in Eco, racing through the gears like it’s, well, a race. “What’s wrong with the car?”, my brother asked from the back seat when we accelerated away from an intersection in Sport and the CLA groaned under the weight of first gear as though I was unwilling to perform an upshift in Manual mode. He also chuckled when the CLA shot up to seventh under light acceleration in ECO, almost in an immature panic, although the rate with which the DCT can snap off shifts is oddly impressive.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic interiorOdd is also how you’d describe the CLA’s mixed bag of suspension movements. The CLA has the ability to eliminate road imperfections, but it struggles to maintain composure when the surface is full of small elevation changes. At the same time, there’s a sense of initial agility, but it’s followed by a surprisingly early onset of understeer when you’re encouraging the CLA to impress your teenage nephews, and the CLA then becomes too uncommunicative.

It’s difficult to say when they’re not driven back-to-back – my time with the CLA250 4Matic came nine months after a week I spent with the front-wheel-drive CLA – but the AWD CLA250 seems to ride better, handle worse, and draw more attention to the DCT’s deficiencies. We also saw no fuel economy penalties with the all-wheel-drive, a 29.4 mpg car in our mostly urban driving, compared with the 28.7 mpg we saw on similar drive routes when the temperature was admittedly cooler last November.

The CLA250 is therefore a relatively quick and efficient car with a premium badge and decent interior space. Although I’m personally not convinced that the stylistic themes work on a product with the CLA’s dimensional limitations, it’s an obviously design-oriented car. Thus, for those who love the car’s appearance and the fact that it screams, “I’m expensive!”, the appeal of a CLA is not difficult to comprehend.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic screenCLA pricing begins at $30,825 including destination; 4Matic adds $2000. Is Audi’s A3 the CLA’s key rival? Or is the un-optioned $41,325 C300 4Matic, a dramatically improved car for the 2015 model year, a competitor for properly-equipped entry-level Benzes, CLAs with 18-inch wheels, heated seats, a rear view camera, and dual zone automatic climate control?

Regardless, Mercedes-Benz has carved out a space for the CLA in America. U.S. sales have slowed noticeably since the car’s arrival late last year, but that’s due in large part to the CLA’s global successes. Yet with 2378 July sales (its best month since January), the CLA accounted for 13% of Mercedes-Benz’s passenger car sales last month. It’s not a rare car. On the other hand, it’s no C-Class, which even in this transition year has averaged 5500 monthly sales.

Yes, more consumers prefer the more costly C-Class, even the old, outgoing C-Class. And though the CLA is appealing in theory, it’s not hard to see why the C-Class is more appealing in practice.

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171 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic...”


  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Ain’t got NOTHING on an Accord, Fusion, Camry or just about any other CamCord.

    In fact, most of the aforementioned vehicles ride better, are more refined, have better fit/finish, will be way more reliable, and are quieter with better NVH and more interior room than this cynical POS, at a 25% to 35% savings over it.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      But for some, it’s all about the badge. No more, no less.

      • 0 avatar
        ellomdian

        Especially with this car.

        I’ve seen a lot of them in the aspirational-burbs around Denver, but unsurprisingly, they are way more rare in the Actual Money areas. I had expected it to at least see some penetration in the just-turned-16 spoiled-kid segment, but that is still DOMINATED by C’s and 3’s.

        If you want people who don’t know what Mercedes you are driving to see you driving a Mercedes, this is the ticket (and admittedly, that is a HUGE market of wannabe buyers.) If you expect anyone else to be impressed, you are fooling yourself. The saddest part is that on paper, the CLA is only ~$60/mo cheaper leasing than the CLA, and the CLA is never going to be worth more when the lease is up than the straight C.

        • 0 avatar
          tekdemon

          I’ve seen a few around in neighborhoods with lots of other nice cars, though you are right in that in the really ritzy areas I virtually never see it. Though I think this is probably because most people seem to be going with a $300 a month BMW lease of some sort more than anything else.
          I will say that the CLA is actually pretty stunning looking in person. Too bad the Accord doesn’t have it’s looks!

    • 0 avatar
      stevelovescars

      I think this could be said for nearly any car over $35k. The same (if not better) safety, technology, refinement, and reliability are available in $25-$30k non-“premium” cars. The bit of extra performance and handling of some luxury import brands are largely academic if you drive on crowded streets like most of us do. Heck, after driving a loaded Mazda6 Grand Touring I couldn’t really think of what I really could ever need or want in a car that it didn’t offer. From my own experience, “lesser” cars often have a lot better reliability and cost of ownership to boot.

      People buy luxury brands mostly so other people can see them. From that perspective, Mercedes seems to have hit the nail on the head with this one.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Some think I despise Ford and have an irrational animus against it, when (and I have driven both this non-AWD CLA and three spec’d versions of the current Fusion over the last 20 months or so) I would honestly call the Fusion a car that is superior to the CLA in terms of ride quality, solidity and “premium” feel.

        Ride quality and solidity (the suspension, chassis, etc.) are the most critical aspect of any vehicle for me.

        The Fusion feels like it should cost far more than the CLA in terms of solidity and ride quality.

        The Fusion feels far more Teutonic than the CLA does.

        I will also say this; I’d honestly rather have a low to mid tier Fusion or Accord to any trim level CLA, especially given that Accords and Fusions can be had near the 20k mark new right now.

        • 0 avatar
          Marko

          +1 I would also take an Accord or Fusion over this. Among similarly priced German sports sedans, I’d rather have an A3 or a GLI (which Jack praised when it first came out).

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          The fusion is definitely a winner, excellent brake feel and super stiff chassis. I had a chance to hustle a rental se through some curves and it could handle more than my 97 tbird v8 on 245 conti DW summer tires. I’m very impressed with how far fwd has come since my last one, a 97 olds 88. I am very interested in the next generation Taurus.

        • 0 avatar

          Ah, but Ford has always done “magic” with their Euro offerings. They are the it to aspite to. Compare a Mondeo V6 or even not the 6 to lesser 3s. Where’s the advantage of the 3?

          The CLA is a good thing. It looks good and it even looks expensive on the inside. It will eventually bring new customers for Mercedes, but as a comparison car to car, it often fails against the mainstream maker’s bigger cars.

          I don’t know if we’ll ever outgrow our bling fetish, but at 43 years old, the CLA feels like a lot of bling to me. Then again, I don’t see value in a badge. Some do. More power to them.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        The Mazda 6 is a fine car, and perhaps you’d never want for anything more, but to claim that all cars priced above it are largely a waste of money is absurd. Sure, the premium brands’ prices aren’t justifiable on content alone; buyers also pay extra “for the brand,” as with all luxury goods. But the inflated prices do net buyers undeniable improvements in build quality, fit and finish, refinement, and customer service, if not necessarily reliability or resale value. Even within its class, the Mazda 6 is underpowered and its interior underwhelms. Contrast those shortcomings with, say, the brilliant new Mercedes C-Class, and it becomes difficult to argue that the premium car isn’t worth, well, a premium (even if it’s not one you’re willing to pay).

        The CLA is an entirely different animal: a cynical attempt to bring traditional mid-size sedan buyers to the Mercedes brand with an “affordable” but objectively inferior product. I don’t think many would argue with your preference for the Mazda over a poorly executed “premium” car like the CLA.

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          I want to like the Mazda but without more power, there are just too many better alternatives. Mazda needs a twin scroll turbo and somewhere around 275 HP asap.

        • 0 avatar
          stevelovescars

          Except that Mercedes, BMW, Volvo, and most luxury brands aren’t more reliable. Material quality may be higher (in general) but that doesn’t correlate with fewer trips to the dealer.

          My personal BMW ownership experience was horrible (twice). The dealer made me long for the my days with my $12k Saturn when I went in for service… and I was there a LOT for the BMW. There was no premium customer experience to be had. My car even came back to me dirtier than when I brought it in.

          In comparison, my Mazda5 came back washed and vacuumed when I took it in for a $30 oil change. So yeah, the BMW sales guys wear suits instead of polo shirts. I couldn’t care less.

          I personally liked the interior of the Mazda6 a lot. They cram in a lot of technology but I found the user interface and design pleasing and easy. In terms of power, again, my point was that it was all one “needs,” not necessarily wants. For 95% of the driving I do it was more than powerful enough and it was quite fuel efficient to boot.

          • 0 avatar
            MLS

            I admitted that premium brands’ reliability may not be better than mainstream brands’. (In many cases, it will probably be worse.) But perhaps some buyers prize material quality and craftsmanship over marginally worse (but still high, by historical standards) reliability.

          • 0 avatar
            tall1

            I agree with the viewpoint that you get more for your money in a mainstream sedan, but what you’re overlooking is the perceived image a luxury or near-luxury brand portrays. To many, owning an Accord, Camry or the like is equal to eating white bread sandwiches – they fill you up but don’t feel “special” or “gourmet”. If an individual that makes a decent living wants to drive something that shows that they are an up-and-comer, they may choose a brand that is associated with “making it”. I for one do not follow that path but depending on the industry you work in, it could be the norm amongst your peers.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          There was a new Honda Accord and new Mercedes C parked next to each other at Costco the other night.

          I pointed the two out and everyone in my party agreed the Honda looked the more expensive ride. The Merc looked very much the “junior” edition.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I wouldn’t go that far. What $30K car can legitimately seat 5, run through the quarter in under 14 seconds, and get around a skidpad at over .9gs?

        For folks suffering in urban landscapes, any compromises for sport are a waste… but isolation and straight line performance are still usable and desirable and speak to your point. But for someone like me, who has a 35 mile commute on winding 2 lane roads, I can definitely think of some things the 6 doesn’t have that I use every day. Passing power, high grip thresholds, etc. etc.

        When I lived in NYC a lightly modified Accord was perfect, especially with Koni shocks to control the body and take the edge off of the frost heaves. But now that I’ve left that hellscape for greener pastures I can enjoy cars as they are intended to be….

        • 0 avatar
          Frylock350

          @sportyaccordy,

          A Dodge Charger and a Honda Accord V6 come to mind quickly. Also a the pony cars have similar interior room to the CLA so I’d say a Dodge Challenger as well.

          For my $30k I’ll have a Charger R/T that’s better at everything than the CLA>

          And lol at the idea that a CLA legitimately seats 5. This is a German Corolla without the reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        Master Baiter

        How many BMWs and Mercedes cars have you owned?

    • 0 avatar
      TorontoSkeptic

      My thoughts exactly. You could option up an Altima and get more of whatever you want – power, space, fuel economy, reliability.

      And I don’t think every luxury car has this problem. If you want a RWD, ~300 hp car with a sporty feel, then a BMW/Infiniti offers something that a family sedan doesn’t. If you want vault-like pampered luxury, then an S-class or a Lexus offers better leather and more features. But a compact, not-that-powerful, not-that-premium, not-that-fuel-efficient car is a pretty tough sell.

      Since I’m a contrary indicator, I’m sure this car will do wonderfully.

    • 0 avatar
      Trauto

      Agreed.

      More savvy brand extension than the old c230 hatch, however.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      There is one thing that the Camcords don’t have, and that is style. The Camcord is classy and all, but it really is the Oldsmobile of the 21st century. CLA looks artsier even next to Mazda6 or Fusion. And the importance of having a true mid-size to full-size sedan with a big reach seat is somewhat exaggerated. In typical American household, we have 2,3,4 cars parked in the drive way. Kids receive the hand me downs. In practice, those big sedans almost never need that rear room. Hence, the rise of the new “stylish” class of sedans with low roof or “four door coupes”.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m currently on a 2014 Accord sport lease I took in January, the car is very good, CVT is very responsive, I took a 1000 mile trip to Canada from NYC a week ago and the car managed to get 36mpg combined.
        BUT! I can’t love this car, I thought it would be different after 8 month but it did not.
        What I’m trying to say, I speak to a lot of people with all types of cars, asking them what made them drive a particular car, it always sound like they have a set of reasons that are right for them, it does not always go hand in hand with what I think they should drive.
        I remember, back in 2006, I bought a Mazda 3 hatchback, before that, I did not know anything about Mazda, the only reason I got it was the style, I just got hooked on it.
        The reason i got the Accord, I really wanted to see how is it to drive what everybody else drive, it’s funny, spending 2 days in Toronto, I saw 2 Accords, here in NYC, I see one every 5 min, sometimes it would be the same exact car I have, dark gray sport.

        The CLA is a great marketing tool, who cares how it drives or what consumer reports say about it, it looks good and it has a Benz logo on it!

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      With all this hate for the CLA I guess you guys would have an absolute seizure if you knew about the A and B Classes.

      Not to mention 3 series BMWs with 4 cylinder diesel engines, cloth seats and manual transmissions! Can you believe they’d compromise the ultimate driving machine with such horrors?

      I won’t be trading in my Benz for a CLA – it doesn’t really appeal to me. But I’ve started to see lots of them driving around, so it’s obviously finding a market niche, which is fine by me.

      And if you like a Honda better than a Benz, well then obviously you should buy the Honda.

      • 0 avatar
        TorontoSkeptic

        We have B classes in Canada (I guess they aren’t in the US?). They’re even worse – at least I can agree the CLA has a kind of cool exterior.

        The B class is a compact hatch with ~150 hp that sells for about $35k. I know people who own them, and I wouldn’t say they are especially, ahem, financially savvy.

        Now off in search of pictures of the A class…

        • 0 avatar
          ect

          The B class starts at $30,000, not 35. It has 208 hp, not 150.

          We have one, and think it’s great. Quick, nimble, well-appointed. Cavernous (and very comfortable) back seat – my wife is a real estate broker, so its great for touring clients. In fact, her clients regularly compliment her on the car.

          And the hatchback configuration is extremely versatile/practical, much moreso than a sedan.

          As someone who is very financially savvy, I built spreadsheets to compare this with other cars we shopped. If there is a premium for the M-B logo, it’s not much when vehicles are comparably equipped.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Interesting comments about interior space. From other reviews it sounds like the back was very cramped and more like a 2+2.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      The rear looks very small, and it is very difficult to access. But my father (5’8″ and shrinking) and I (5’11″ish) did not move our seats forward for three 5′-10″ish males in the back, and though they were cramped, it was manageable. Not so in a true 2+2. Headroom is terrible if you sit in I’m-a-car-reviewer-and-my-posture-is-incredible fashion, but with a bit of a slouch it’s not dreadful. As for child seats, we’ve loaded both a Maxi Cosi Mico and a Diono Radian RXT in there, and the angle of the seats, seatbacks, and front seats make it really doable.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Looking at the exterior dimensions and roofline, how could it NOT be cramped back there? I suspect any old people would have a very hard time getting in there.

  • avatar
    linard76

    It’s interesting how much animosity exists over this car. It looks good and makes some people happy. Reviewers have generally praised its handling and fun to drive nature while panning its ride and back seat. It’s not a car for everyone but saying its a poor effort from Mercedes is hardly accurate. It’s safe according to Euro NCAP and serves as the basis for the bonkers CLA45.

    Alex Dykes reviewed the CLA and claimed it has the second best front-drive chassis out there with the CLA45 being the best.

    Everyday Driver compared it to the A3 and Accord and it won because of it’s engaging personality.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      What vehicle has Alex reviewed that he didn’t “really like” or “love?”

      Serious question.

      If anyone can list more than 7 or 8 out of the 60 or so I’ve read his reviews of, I’d be surprised.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      He really said the CLA was the second best driving FWD vehicle?

      Hahahaha

      Did he not drive any of the mainstream midsized sedans? The Fusion, Accord, and Mazda6 are all better driving vehicles, regardless of price. I won’t even get into the various hot hatches and C-segment cars. I will take a Cruze over a CLA.

      • 0 avatar
        linard76

        He did really say that.

        Have you driven the latest versions of all the cars you listed to make a comparison?

        The mainstream cars are great for what they are intended for but I do personally feel the CLA has far better steering, sporty enough dynamics to match its looks and a fun personality. It has an engine that punches above its weight, premium optional features and gets surprisingly decent fuel economy. The interior is nicely designed and decently finished as well. It’s all mostly soft touch except for the center console. I like the interior of the Fusion but it also has cheap plastics, inconsistent panel fits and some wobbly trim pieces.

        It’s never going to sell anywhere near what the mainstream family sedans will but does it have to? It’s another option for people who want to go that route. What’s wrong with that?

        • 0 avatar
          tresmonos

          I test drove the CLA with my mother, and to say it had luxury fit and finish on the interior is a stretch. The ride was harsh compared to the MkZ and ES that we test drove.

          After the test drive in front of the salesman she said that the car was geared for kids my age who had too much money or a lack of financial responsibility.
          And that’s exactly what this thing is. ‘Affordable’ image.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I don’t have too many issues with the interior of the CLA. Nothing that is worth me getting on a soap box and complaining about at least. I don’t have an issue of people wanting to buy it either.

          I do not think it is as good as either the Fusion or Accord though. The CLA does have a trim that have more power than either of those vehicles, so that is a plus I suppose. A Fusion ST would solve that problem.

          Realistically, the CLA has a wheelbase closer to the Focus than Fusion anyway. The Focus ST is so much more fun to drive than the CLA (minus the CLA45), and can be had for well under $25K. The Verano Turbo, Focus ST, VW GTI, and Buick Regal are compare favorably to the CLA.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            You are right, after driving a Fiesta and Focus ST for long periods of time, I wouldn’t waste my money on anything else unless I required more space or a bare bones work truck.

            I doled out the cash for the latter.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “A Fusion ST would solve that problem.”

            I’d like to see that.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I will put it out there for anyone from Ford looking at these pages, I will purchase a Fusion ST/Sport if made available. I’m sure it would have AWD and an automatic. I don’t care. Put the 2.3T, 2.7T, or 3.5T in there and I will not complain about the lack of a manual transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        CA Guy

        Alex gave the CLA 250 a decidedly mixed review. While enjoying the driving dynamics, he was critical of the limited interior space, harsh ride, high noise level on the road, and poorly programmed dual-clutch transmission which he specifically noted was not suited for driving in city traffic. Alex indicated he would not buy the car but, as a driving enthusiast, would buy the CLA 45 AMG for its handling and performance.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      This is why I never understood the Alex love. He sure as hell attempted to use TTAC as a launching pad into a auto journo job where he can better fellate each and every OEM.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        But one is “wrong” and “mean-spirited” to have and voice such an opinion.

        Ask me how I know.

        I was even diplomatic about it, merely suggesting Alex was akin to that “easy professor” in college teaching an elective where everyone who needs to boost their GPA gravitates towards.

        • 0 avatar
          tresmonos

          I liked his thoroughness, but what’s the point of being detail oriented when everything you spit out is rose colored? His reviews would be the opposite of what I would write up.

          I never was vocal as I saw how he couldn’t take criticism with a grain of salt.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Tres,

            Regarding Alex, I never really read his reviews for his opinions so much as for a detailed text-based summary of a vehicle, which I felt he did extremely well. His reviews had a way of answering questions I had about certain vehicles without having to see one in person. This is more useful to me than a reviewers opinion, in a lot of ways. I respect a JB or a DK but they have such a different way of looking at cars, due to their exposure, that the distillation that Alex’s writing style provided was useful.

            I needed some info on the current crop of available cargo vans and reached out to Alex, and he gave me a very useful summation of available options and pros and cons.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            dave,
            I agree that he provided a utility in his reviews, but I still want someone’s honest opinion. He had such an arsenal of knowledge, but no guts to pull the trigger.

            I read this site mostly for entertainment, so my preferences are biased.

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        Of the 2 dozen cars I test drove even the worst cars weren’t really that bad. Besides who would let you review their product if they think you are going to trash it. Better to be polite with your criticism.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          We’ve been over this many times.

          Ask Jack, or now even more so, Derek, how they feel about not being able to fully & FAIRLY review any vehicle out of fear for manufacturer blacklisting.

          • 0 avatar

            I don’t care about any of that. There are a lot of people in this field who live for the free trips, the free cars they could never afford and being able to post about driving those cars on social networks, so they can show their high school classmates how well they are doing.

            I do this job because I love cars, the industry and writing. The rest is gravy, but I don’t need it. And when you remove that leverage from your life, you are free to do this job in a way that serves the readers, not the OEMs.

            If they blacklist me, I’ll rent a car or get it through other means. Let me state for the record: no threats of “blacklisting”, not going on launches or whatnot will ever stop me from saying exactly how I feel about a car.

            Besides, blacklisting doesn’t work. Ask Lincoln Motor Company.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “Besides who would let you review their product if they think you are going to trash it.”

          That’s really the problem with most car reviews, isn’t it?

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          “Besides who would let you review their product if they think you are going to trash it.”

          Well, they can’t stop you, if you rate rentals or retail cars someone else bought.

          And, the other answer is, “someone confident in the quality of their product and your integrity as a reviewer”.

          I might ask why I’d trust a manufacturer that wouldn’t let such a person review their cars without resorting to the aftermarket for access…

      • 0 avatar
        koshchei

        Wow at the mental image, but agreed.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m sure many women out there have ‘engaging personalities,’ but still end up being ill-proportioned, tacky, and shallow…much like the CLA.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I think the reason for the animosity is because this car is designed specifically for brand whores. It’s like the Coach Outlet store version of a Mercedes, or the Mercedes you could buy at Target in one of their “designer collaboration” deals. It cheapens the brand.

      This is nothing new, Mercedes (and all of the “premium” car brands) have been cheapening their product lines for years. The C-class was the CLA 20 yrs ago, and now here we are saying the C-class is the proper Mercedes. And I suppose there is nothing inherently wrong with the CLA, except its FWD layout and awkward overstyling. But when I look at it I can’t help but think I am paying about $10-12k too much for it, just to have that gigantic 3 pointed star on the nose.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I was gonna say the same thing about the w201 C class.

        The main difference is, I think, that the w201 was the only compact-ish Mercedes*, at the time, and now the field’s a bit more crowded.

        And the non-Mercedes competition is a *lot* more competitive and dense.

        I don’t understand the target market, but I’m obviously not it in the first place; while I loved my old w115, I don’t have illusions about the Mercedes value proposition, and I don’t buy cars To Be Seen In Them.

        (* It sure wasn’t cheap – at an (internet sourced – http://www.michigan.gov/documents/1985combca_19779_7.pdf) sticker of around 22-23k [$50k in today\'s dollars], they were a bit more expensive than a 325e – or the same price as a new Porsche 944!

        We live in a golden age.)

  • avatar
    Fred

    “Or is the un-optioned $41,325 C300 4Matic…” I thought the C300 was a lot more car for about $1000 more, but a few options and both were over my budget.

  • avatar

    I don’t like this car. It’s not the price and the cheap plastic; it’s the fact that it’s just too much styling to be crammed onto such a small template, in my opinion…and that’s something that would drive me toward the A3 instead.

  • avatar
    Nedmundo

    I understand why the CLA has been successful, and I’ve seen them around downtown Philly driven by young image-conscious folks, which is fine. M-B has reached a new audience, who they hope will stick with the marque, and thus far it seems like a great move. It’s not for me though, partly because if I’m gonna spend for a Benz, I want RWD. And for FWD or AWD I’d prefer a Focus ST, WRX, TLX I4, or even Accord Sport with 6MT or Fusion 2.0T. DeadWeight is right about the substantial feel of newer Fords — even the Focus ST is quieter than my 2010 TSX on the highway, and feels just as solid. (Then again, my TSX still feels like new after 80,000 trouble-free miles, and I’m not sure whether Fords would pass that test.)

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I think the lessees they’re capturing with this model aren’t the sort of people who stick to a brand. They go for the max they can afford with a nice badge, and will have to move out of MB once they have kids and need something lease affordable and larger.

      Continually I feel more and more the CLA is a car for women.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Good point.

        If a manufacturer is going to try to gain converts for life, ala Audi or Lexus (arguably more so the old Lexus), make sure the entry product gives them the impression, over the long term, that the vehicles is truly special in a good way.

        As mentioned above, this is like a cheap Coach outlet slap-together.

  • avatar
    omer333

    It’s a handsome car, this… but the only reason to get one over a Mazda6 is the badge and OMFG TEH TORQUE.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I keep wanting to go compare this to other vehicles, and say “so and so is a much better, better equipped, more power, more space for same money.”

    But you can’t do that with this car, as it’s made to be a way to slap a big star on something not especially star-worthy, for people who don’t give a crap about value and sign a lease agreement. So I can’t do any normal comparison because to do so you have to put on your Foolish Hat (TM).

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Choose! Verano T or CLA250??

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Well neither of those cars are large enough to suit me. But to avoid maintenance worries and the absurd level of pretension on the small, FWD Merc… Verano T! Copper metallic.

        And if the angry eyebrows don’t line up I’m taking it back.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Verano T or CLA250?

        Definitely the Merc. There’s no way GM will stock parts for the Verano in 10 years. You’re always one weird fuel line connector away from the crusher with GM.

        Thank God those aren’t the only two choices!

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          I’ve owned 10-15 year old GM’s for the majority of my driving life including my recently departed Alero…I have never had a single parts availability issue.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          A Verano will have worse parts support than a Benz CLA? Ha! What world do you live in?

          The Verano is parts bin GM, there will always be parts available for them as long as there are parts for the Cruze and other vehicles that component share with it. Weird body trim and stuff, maybe not, but that won’t send it to the crusher.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            A friend is looking at crushing a Chevy Astro Van because the fuel lines are NLA. That makes a 1-hour job of replacing them into an all-day fabricating job, costing more than the value of the van.

            Another friend had to scrap a 6 year old Saturn L because the subframe rusted-out and was NLA. Can’t get one from a junk yard because, obviously, they are all rusted-out.

            Never mind the fact that Delco brake parts often aren’t the same quality/fit as original (what they install on the production line). You can go aftermarket, but then you end-up with less of a car than what you started with.

            Say what you will about Mercedes parts being “expensive,” at least they are high quality, they fit perfectly, and they are available. Need a molded hose for a 1970s car? It will take a few days, cost a bundle (maybe), but you will get it.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            I own a 1987 Chevrolet truck and a 1995 Buick. I can get parts for both- easily.

            I had a fuel line issue on the truck. Use some hose and a metal line splicer.

            The transmission was replaced in the Buick. It needed new ends to the cooler hoses. Some hose clamps, a little hose, and it’s good to go.

            Need a fuel tank bracket on your 1987 Chevrolet pickup? I can tell you how to make one.

            Need any body parts? I can find them for you in 15 minutes.

            And, I’ll take aftermarket brakes. I went with ceramic pads on my Impala when I did the pads and rotors. I don’t think it’s any less of a car.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “A friend is looking at crushing a Chevy Astro Van because the fuel lines are NLA. That makes a 1-hour job of replacing them into an all-day fabricating job, costing more than the value of the van.”

            Parts availability problems or not, it wouldn’t take much of a repair to exceed the value of an older Astro van.

            Even when OEM pre-bent fuel lines are available, I usually make my own anyway to save a bundle. You can buy lengths of premade compression fitting lines at any parts store for nominal cost, as well as a tubing bender and have the job done in a couple hours. having the OEM lines is really a matter of convenience.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            danio,

            OEM lines are a matter of convenience, except when GM uses some weird connector. Shops operate on efficiency, and chasing-down a part all day is a non-starter. That really sucks unless you are doing the work yourself and you have a spare van to drive in the meanwhile. Even then it sucks, but it can be overcome.

            All I’m saying is that Mercedes has historically been much better with parts supply than GM. Given a choice between the two, I would go with the one that will still be supported in 10 years.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I haven’t run into a “weird fitting” on a GM that couldn’t be had by the dealer or a parts chain. There’s nothing particularly unique about the fuel systems on their mass produced trucks and vans. Their extensive use of metal fasteners on things like fuel filters angers me to no end, but you can get the parts to repair them.

            There are some examples or strange hardware usage on GM products, but even then I haven’t had trouble with a solution. My last run-in with strange GM hardware was a hollow banjo bolt for the coolant crossover pipe on a 90’s LT1 engine. The threads on the bolt I pulled out were a bit jacked. They used a non-standard pipe thread size, so even finding another bolt of similar dimension wasn’t going to work.

            The dealer had the part listing and could get the bolt in 2 days if I wanted it, I was even surprised at that. The threads in the head turned out to be not so great either, so I ended up putting a more standard sized insert in it and then used a dye to re-thread the old bolt to that size, which worked. I didn’t end up needing the new bolt, but they had it.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          @heavy handle

          In this particular universe, Verano owners will not have an particular parts issues. CLA owners might depending on how long Mercedes will support them new parts and how quickly the sold examples hit the yard and get crushed. Things like GM Delta II are sold in the millions each year, even if GM cuts off its support depending on the type part and the frequency of its need, the aftermarket steps in and mfgs the part. In a situation where a part is no longer made, you fall back on the fact plenty of examples will be in ye old junk yard (even in a frequent crush environment).

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            That’s an optimistic attitude. The problem is that a Turbo Verano is low-volume by GM standards. You are going to need some kind of turbo coolant return line in 10 years (because that’s how long they last), and the parts counter guy will either laugh or sympathize. Either way, you won’t get your part. You also won’t find the various gaskets, o-rings, etc that are required to do the job right.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @heavy handle

            The 2.0 LHU was briefly used in three other models although currently only the Verano still uses it. The LHU is related to the LNF which was used on more common models (HHR SS Cobalt SS, and the two roadsters). So depending on the part its out there but will be more difficult to source than say something for a 3800. My general thought it don’t buy oddball cars if you intend to keep it long term, although that was not the point you initially made. I would say depending on the part for the Verano Turbo, it may be difficult to source in the future.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GM_Ecotec_engine#LHU

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            Mercedes has the best parts support out of any manufacturer, if you disregard the price. The Mercedes part will always be available, it might be a price you’re not willing to pay though. I read an article a while ago of about a guy who bought a new transmission for his old Mercedes that was from the 20s. He called Mercedes Classic Center and they sold him one. That’s not to say the CLA will ever have the value to have someone spend that kind of crazy money on it, but the option will be there.

        • 0 avatar
          Manic

          Verano i.e. Opel Astra is basic car here in Europe, something Jr. sales rep. gets as first company car ever. They sell OK for an Opel so there’s not much risk regarding spare parts, even NA specific, I guess.
          Still, there’s nothing Premium about Verano,IMO, even with leather and options, just like my last gen. A3 which felt exactly like what it was, basic Golf in a fancy frock. At least CLA holds it’s value better.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m not sure what the ATP is on these but here are some MY14 valuations.

            MY14 Mercedes CLA250 FWD

            08/26/14 RIVRSIDE Regular $32,100 1,183 Avg SILVER 4GT Yes
            08/07/14 PA Regular $32,000 2,664 Avg GREY 4GT P Yes
            08/07/14 PA Regular $29,250 2,960 Avg CHIARETO 4GT P Yes
            08/07/14 PA Lease $36,000 3,500 Above POL SIL 4GT P Yes
            07/31/14 RIVRSIDE Regular $31,500 4,844 Avg BLACK 4GT A Yes
            08/14/14 RIVRSIDE Factory $31,000 5,210 Avg ARC WHT 4GT A Yes
            08/15/14 PA Regular $29,250 6,823 Avg SILVER 4GT P Yes
            08/14/14 RIVRSIDE Factory $33,000 7,604 Avg MNT GRY 4GT A Yes
            08/13/14 PALM BCH Factory $29,750 7,624 Avg ARC WHT 4GT A Yes
            08/01/14 PA Regular $32,000 9,276 Avg SILVER 4GT A Yes

            For the sake of comparison here is MY13 Mercedes C250, MSRP was $35,350:

            08/07/14 NEVADA Lease $23,000 8,905 Avg BLACK 4GT A Yes
            07/31/14 RIVRSIDE Regular $26,250 9,074 Above BROWN 4GT A No
            08/27/14 MILWAUKE Lease $23,500 9,225 Above PLR WHT 4GT A Yes
            08/22/14 PA Regular $22,500 9,541 Avg RED 4GT P Yes
            07/31/14 DFW Lease $23,500 9,578 Above BLACK 4GT A Yes
            08/26/14 ORLANDO Lease $23,000 9,701 Avg PAL SIL 4GT A Yes
            08/20/14 SF BAY Lease $24,000 9,853 Above STL GRY 4GT A Yes

            Those all have sub 10K miles… do you really think the FWD wonder will hold better in twelve months time?

            C250 reference

            http://autos.aol.com/cars-Mercedes_Benz-C_Class-2013-Sport__C250_4dr_Sedan/pricing/

        • 0 avatar
          VenomV12

          I don’t know anyone on the planet that has ever had problems getting GM parts. They are probably the easiest manufacturer to get parts from out of any auto company.

  • avatar
    danman75

    I’m curious whether the CLA250 will damage the MB brand the same way the Cimarron damaged Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      I don’t think so. The CLA isn’t a “bad” car as such. The Cimarron was truly awful.

      Bear in mind that in the rest of the world, Mercedes sells plenty of ordinary cars to ordinary people. The existence of the B-class in Canada hasn’t hurt them.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “The Cimarron was truly awful”

        Says the man who never drove a V6 Cimmaron. I may agree with you in its first iteration due to LQ2 I4 alone (or even worse the 1.8 carb’d L46 I4).

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “The existence of the B-class in Canada hasn’t hurt them.”

        Disagree, my eyes hurt every time I see one.

      • 0 avatar
        koshchei

        The Cimarron wasn’t awful, it was incredibly cynical. GM made the mistake of assuming that their clientele would somehow walk into the showroom, past rows of Cavaliers, and not make the blatantly obvious connection.

        • 0 avatar
          bomberpete

          I agree with the substance of what you’re saying, but with one correction.

          Back in the Eighties GM sold most of its Cadillacs in standalone showrooms in urban/suburban settings. The volume warranted it. In rural territory Caddies might be sold alongside GMC, maybe Olds or Buick, but NEVER, NEVER alongside Chevy.

          Actually, that proves your point even more. Like BMW or Merc today, the Seville made GM think customers would buy anything with that wreath on the hood. Hence the Cimarron.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I don’t think the CLA will hurt Mercedes the way the Cimarron hurt Cadillac, but both are examples of mistakes in motion. When you’re selling luxury cars, you don’t try slapping your badge on what boils down to a fancied-up FWD compact car. The CLA will end up cheapening the Mercedes brand.

      Now, what if they had made a CLA with a truly first-class interior? THEN they might have something.

      • 0 avatar
        Manic

        Well, world is full of rusty vans, soot blackened taxis, old POS trucks, cranes and buses, all with MB logos and still MB has cachet among non-exotic brands.
        Not sure if Americans are different or just have to adapt, rusty Sprinters are on the roads already. Introducing smaller cars with the same logo shouldn’t in theory mean that people will buy something else instead, esp. as all the other higher end brands have smaller cars nowadays, too.

      • 0 avatar
        James2

        “Now, what if they had made a CLA with a truly first-class interior? THEN they might have something.”

        What he said. If M-B had decided to build to a standard, rather than to a price point, they would have an S-Class customer in the near future. Instead, they catch all of these posers, who get turned off by the lousy quality and walk on over to the Lexus dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      Nope, drive an S and the CLA has zero impact on how I view Mercedes, no one I know has any negative feelings towards the car either. I have a few colleagues that own S and GLs that have bought CLAs for their kids. The average person that sees one usually does not know it is the cheapest Benz out there and usually thinks it is much more expensive than it really is. However I think the A class and B class is where people’s attitudes would start to turn negative.

  • avatar
    Mike N.

    The transmission is true to Mercedes form. I’ve driven several non-AMG Mercedes of recent vintages (and currently own a W211 E350), and a SMART, and every transmission has been at best “bad” and at worst “hateful”.

    The rear of the CLA is also hideous and overstyled. In the entry-level luxury/brand whore segment, the Audi A3 looks to be a much better all around package, though if it were my money I would get the Jalopnik edition 320i (6MT/ZSP).

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Has Mercedes ever made a transmission people liked?

      My w115 had rough, harsh shifting … and by all accounts that’s exactly how it was *new*, and not a result of being old and abused.

      Word from the old-timers was that was universal and ubiquitous in Mercedes products of at least the 70s and 80s.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I kind of respect this car because it’s so clear about what its mission is. It’s there to get people a three-pointed star for cheap. It’s not for people concerned with the substance of a car, and it’s honest about that. Mercedes knows it can’t please those people at the $40,000 (realistically equipped) price point, so it doesn’t try. It straightforwardly invites those buyers to either spend another $8,000 on a C (which is a far more desirable product with this year’s version) or go to another manufacturer.

    What I can’t respect is the iPad screen. It’s a complete cop-out. It says “It’s hard to integrate a nice screen into a small-car dash, so we won’t bother trying.” I won’t buy any vehicle with a screen like that, no matter how much I like it otherwise. The Audi A3 got this one right — even in this price-sensitive class, Audi spent the money to allow the screen to withdraw into the dash when not in use.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      The C has the tacked-on screen, too — you have to step up to the E or the CLS to get it integrated in the dash.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      While I see what you’re saying, aesthetically, I have less-than-zero confidence in the long-term (as in “more than a year or two”) reliability or sturdiness of a retracting touch-screen system.

      I like that that screen appears to be properly positioned, and I’d rather have one that was “tacked on” than one that was hard to use safely (too low) or one that made the whole dash bulge to hold it without looking like an add-on … or one that was motorized and moved around a lot.

      Because, again, less-than-zero confidence in how that’ll hold up.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        If I’m buying an A3, it’s on a lease. The car will be under warranty the whole time it’s on lease. Screen breaks? Dealer fixes it. If you are the sort of person who is buying for the long term and worried about gimmick features breaking, almost by definition you won’t be shopping in this segment.

        I just can’t stand the aesthetics of the tacked-on screen. It’s absolutely a deal-breaker for me. It would still be in the nicer C. Hell, it would still be in the $110,000 Audi S8 — I would not buy one with the rear-seat entertainment system because those screens are so ugly.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          That’s 100% a matter of taste. Some people can’t stand it when a screen is disguised to look like something else.

          I find the “screen that’s not ashamed to be a screen” look OK. The alternative is usually “let’s try to be clever even though we are not.”

      • 0 avatar
        sckid213

        I have a retractable touchscreen on my ’08 CTS. It goes up and down several times a day, and no problems at all so far. It’s a very rare problem on the CTS forums as well.

        Then again, it’s a simple up-and-down movement. I know that Audi has had issues with some of the more acrobatic retractable screen systems they use.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          The screen is designed that way for marketing, because it’s supposed to emulate a tablet. This is why the new C-Class also has a tacked on screen, even though it could have been designed into the dash. I’m not defending this, just stating the logic they used.

          The pre-facelift of the outgoing C-Class had a retractable screen, and they actually had very few issues, surprisingly.

          • 0 avatar
            koshchei

            Rather than sourcing low-dpi screens and cheap head units intended to last 10+ years, I don’t know why manufacturers didn’t start putting docks with built-in chargers into their cars a good 5 years ago.

            Even with the cost of developing an app and a RESTful interface into the car’s ancillary functions, they’d save a bundle.

      • 0 avatar
        VenomV12

        Picture this, you have your small child in the car, you get out for a second to go back into the house, he starts running around the car, looks at the screen, thinks it is an iPad, grabs it and rips it off the dash. I hate those stupid, ugly, tacked on screens.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    I see this car as the M-B equivalent of the 1-series BMW. Never the model that people really wanted, but the one from that brand that they could afford – or get a subprime loan for. In case the star in the grill isn’t oversized enough, for an extra $480 they’ll make it light up for you, so you can make sure all your neighbors know what you own.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Wouldn’t it be more like the 320 lease special? The 1 series with the bigger motors (especially the 1M coupe) were praised as “the only ultimate driving machines left today” or some such.

      • 0 avatar

        I wonder…I mean, I know the 320i is pretty bare-bones in terms of options, but is it mechanically separate from the 328i, or is it just a computer de-tune.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        BMW took a different approach (temporarily). MB and Audi introduced a cheaper platform. BMW decontented the crap out of its existing platform (albeit only while it waits for products on its new cheaper platform to come to market).

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        I don’t think the 320 or the 128 has been badge-whored in the same manner. The fact that they offer a subsidized lease deal to build market share doesn’t cheapen the product, that is a reasonable way to incease market share. BMW has kept the RWD layout, which is key to maintaining the premium label. They de-contented the base models but not to an extreme, and they didn’t purposely over-style the car. Both base models are very tasteful, more tasteful than the M versions of each car.

        The E30 and E36 BMWs were not luxurious cars, there was a ton of cheap plastic in both of them. They had excellent driving dynamics and engineering, and that was the reason to choose one over a non-premium brand. Sure, people wanted to brag about owning a Beemer, but at least there was some substance behind the bragging.

        So what do you get/lose in a 320 or 128? Lower power, yes, but still very adequate for most people. RWD dynamics, plastic interior, but relatively high quality interior plastic and the higher priced models have the same plastic anyway. They cut some of the silly “luxury” features but if you are buying the car for the dynamics you shouldn’t care about heated seats and a huge navigation screen. And its priced reasonably compared to the competition. I personally feel that the 335 or the 135 is overpriced for what you get, the base models of each, perhaps with a sport package, is reasonable for what you get. I cannot say the same thing about the CLA.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          The 1-series (and 2-series) was smaller, and that was about it. There was very little difference in either standard equipment or optional equipment between the 1 and a 3 coupe, or the 2 and a 4 coupe. There is also relatively little difference in price, $5K or so. The bigger cars have more usable back seats.

          I am perfectly OK with there being a slightly lower powered, cheaper, 3-series. If the option had been available to have a 320i or 325i when I bought my wagon, I certainly would have bought it. I can’t use the power that the 328i has legally in the United States, so why bother to have it?

          I simply don’t care one way or the other about the CLA. FWD, no stickshift, no coupe version means it is completely off my radar. If people like it and buy it, great, if you don’t like it, don’t buy one.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I won’t bother listing all the vehicles that are more appetizing than this car for the same or less $. Needless to say, I can put this on the same list as crossovers for vehicles whos drivers I get to look down upon. what a pointless, vain car.

  • avatar
    carguy

    That’s what get when you take the FWD economy A class hatchback and put lipstick on it. I got a brief ride in one and found the ride to be overly firm, the gearbox too slow and the interior trim on par with a Chevy Cruze.

    I just don’t see $40K value in this car.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      “I … found the ride to be overly firm, the gearbox too slow and the interior trim on par with a Chevy”

      That’s really funny because it’s exactly what people were saying about Mercs in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Maybe they’ve got their groove back.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Right, but in the 60s, 70s and 80s, cheap interior trim notwithstanding, Benzes were absolute Panzer tanks. Back then, Mercedes spent its money over-engineering and over-building its cars, and didn’t sink all that much into flashy styling or interior gimmickry. I’d say the CLA is a 180-degree turnabout from that.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    All-wheel drive: Yes.
    Ground Clearance: 3.9″.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    So… did zee Germans have a master plan where they suck out the maximum equity in their models (i.e. this CLA) while simultaneously providing such horrible reliability and high parts costs where warranties are effectively required so unscrupulous fellows such as myself cannot afford to pick them up used, beat depreciation, and thus join the “club”? I’m being very serious because this appears to be the way the wind is blowing…

  • avatar
    omer333

    Honestly, if its about getting a brand-new luxury car on the cheap, Buick is where its at.

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      Bingo! A Buick is just as nice, the Regal turbo will be quick, and the Buick will be cheaper… to own AND maintain.

      But, this car isn’t about that. It’s about people who have to have a Mercedes. People with brains would take something else.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        I wouldn’t say it that harshly. Some folks are just brand-centric, and if that’s the MB they can afford, so be it.

        I’m partial to the E series myself; I’ve just found them beautifully built and styled cars for the longest time now.

        I also remember the scandal when the 190 came out in the mid-80s…how it wasn’t a true Benz….

        Up in Canada last month I looked over a B series….I was very impressed with it’s form and functionality, and yes, I’m sure there’s a premium to be paid because it’s a Mercedes…

  • avatar
    spyked

    One of the few honest reviews that doesn’t bring (much) of the MB baggage with it. It’s a small car operating in the near-premium segment. They are ALL economy cars with nice badges in that segment. So why NOT go for it if you like the size and the way it looks? Certainly does nothing any worse or any better than a GLI, A3, or ILX.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I would say it has the advantage that it DOESN’T share a platform with anything cheaper. That alone give it more cred to me than an A3 or an ILX or a Verano. There is no $10K cheaper version out there to buy. It’s simply the cheapest Mercedes, not a tarted up Honda or VW or Cruze.

      • 0 avatar

        It shares a platform with the A,B and GLA Class as well as whatever Infiniti and Nissan products are coming down the pipeline.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          None of which are particularly cheaper. This is not like an ILX which is very much a Civic for many thousands more, or an A3 which is a Golf sedan with delusions of grandeur. The A, B, CLA, and GLA are just different bodystyles, none are sold as non-premium offerings under a different brand. Presumably the same will be true of whatever Infiniti makes of it. Which will certainly NOT be the next Sentra.

          • 0 avatar
            carguy

            Actually, the A class is an economy hatch to compete with Opel, VW and Ford. It is MB’s Honda Civic.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            And the CLA is the sedan version of it. We just only get the top couple trim levels in the US. Just like how the A3 is sedan only in the US, but hatch and sedan in Europe, and we only get the loaded ones.

            I don’t disagree that it is MB’s equivalent of a Honda Civic either way – that is the size class it plays in more-or-less. A better analogy is it is MB’s Golf/Jetta. An A-class hatch is a fancy Golf, and a CLA is a fancy Jetta.

  • avatar
    bd2

    By all accounts, the A3 is superior to the CLA in just about every way, but the CLA has a $6k higher ATP (might change a bit as higher end trims of the A3 become available).

    • 0 avatar
      spyked

      By SOME accounts. By no means is the A3 superior in every way. Neither are perfect. The A3 is certainly nice…as is the CLA. Just depends on the lease special that month.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        I haven’t come across a review/comparison that preferred the CLA over the A3.

        And the CLA has a jittery ride, road noise, too many chinzy interior materials – complaints that one won’t find for the A3.

        MB did a great job in those regards with the new C Class, but fell short with the CLA.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      Both the A3 and CLA are derived from economy cars. The CLA from the A class and the the A3 from the next gen MBQ Jetta. Both rely on sheet-metal resemblances to more upmarket models to hide their economy roots. But if you look past the badge, both are simply optioned up economy cars for image conscious (read: low self-esteem) buyers.

      The A3 also can’t meet its own efficiency claims. In IntelliChoice RealMPG tests the A3 2.0 couldn’t even hit 30 MPG highway.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        I suspect that the CLA is derived more from the B class than A class, and I seem to recall that Audi does its own engineering. Certainly, the 2 A4’s I’ve owned didn’t seem to have have anything in common with the German Passat, except that they started from the same platform – everything else was unique to Audi.

        Having driven a number of size-equivalent “economy cars”, the A3 and B class deliver a far superior driving experience to those vehicles (I haven’t driven a CLA, so I can’t comment on it).

        The Fusion and Optima we tested were good cars, but certainly didn’t drive as well as the Audi and MB models we drove. Sometimes you do have to pay more to get more.

  • avatar
    Demon_Something

    It really is a shame that a red one was reviewed. It only makes the car look even more porcine.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Basically, what we have here is the Paris Hilton / Kim Kardashian of cars – looks rich on the surface, but you don’t have to dig too deep to find out how shallow and low-class it is.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    I don’t see a problem with a smaller Mercedes, or even a cheaper Mercedes, but I can’t see how a $30-40k Mercedes with worse ride, handling, materials, and fit/finish than a $25k Accord is going to give anybody who buys one the desire for another Mercedes.

    Having just done so, I don’t think it’s really appropriate to compare this car with the mainsteam Camcord segment, though, beacause they’re not very likely to be cross-shopped. Anybody paying attention who compares this to a Lexus IS or ES (around $36.5k), or for that matter a V6 Genesis ($38k) would be hard pressed to find this thing an objectively better car.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Correct. CLA and Accord do not belong in the same class. People don’t fall asleep when looking at CLA. CLA looks like something new and fresh. Honda decided to recycle the 8th gen exterior for the 9th gen car. Accord is now the new Oldsmobile.

  • avatar
    spyked

    I don’t see why people compare this car to midsize sedans. The entire point of the CLA and A3 is to give people that like SMALL CARS an actual decent small car. Until now, the best you could get was a loaded Mazda3 or a GTI, maybe a MINI S if you wanted it…mini.

    Doesn’t matter to me that an Accord or Fusion performs the same and is bigger. I am not a chauffeur, don’t need nor want Mom and Dad’s commuter.

  • avatar
    turf3

    Can you get it without the silly screen at all? How about other new cars, can you exercise a “screen delete” option on any of them? I have no need whatsoever for touch screen controls or navigation system, am I stuck with the base model Civic from now on?

  • avatar
    stanczyk

    They are ‘watering-down’ this brand with ‘global-product bastard:)(and everybody is doing this: Porsche, maserati , RR .. etc.)

    This hipstermobile is for ‘nouvo-riche brainwasched hipsters’ that know cars from ‘corporate-catalogue’ ..
    Mercedes makes money , hipsters ‘ve got their ‘premium’ shmancy fancy mobile..everybodys happy..:)

    and this cars design is ‘messy’ and unelegant not ‘artistic’ ..

  • avatar
    Ion

    I drive a CLA on a regular basis. If it wasn’t for the terrible automated manual (and the run-flats I hate mounting them) this wouldn’t be a terrible 30k compact sedan. The automated manual is really bad though. I have to rev it hard to get moving and it shifts kinda rough. They should have offered the stick here instead of the goofy cup holder. The demographic that buys in this class is usually more open to manuals. Outside of that it’s definetly a better car than the ILX or A3

  • avatar
    wmba

    I live in the same area as the author, and have been waiting since Dec 10 last year for the salesman to get back to me to test drive the 4matic CLA – the FWD had traction problems, zero visibility to the side and a so-so ride. Its best feature was its driver’s seat. But, it was cheerful,.had a bit of personality.

    I’ve driven just about everything of any supposed merit on the market, and had only one good surprise. It was the cheapest car of the lot, leased by a friend; i.e. I didn’t go to the dealer for a test drive.

    Yesterday I was not delighted with the new GTI. Despite all the ravings in the press, I found the interior well-assembled from cheap parts, the engine way too loud, the ride bobbly to say the least, and the 6MT not as nice as Honda or Mazda. Plus the whole car felt insubstantial and small, not as peppy as I’d hoped and the darn sunvisor buzzed and couldn’t be quietened. VW quality memories came flooding back. $38K including leather and DSG! I’d buy the CLA over it for the same money, which it is FWD but minus nav.

    Frankly, the Accord is anodyne unless 6MT, as an owner pointed out above. Mazda6 the same. TLX has weird shifters and dead accelerator pedals at awkward times, almost killing me. Read about new MDX on the forums for more. And if I never have to pilot a 9 speed ZF again, I’ll be happy – the new AWD Chrysler and V6 TLX are blighted by this thing.

    So, in that context, I think I will try the 4matic CLA out. If the A3 is like the Golf, meh.

    The car I most liked this year, the real surprise? Cheap 2.0l 6MT Mazda3 with $500 leather pack. $21K. Not much guts but revvy, great steering as good as old hydraulics, and same cheerful feel as the CLA. I want AWD though, otherwise it would do just fine. Especially the mileage, avg 6.2l/100 km or 38 mpg US.

    The other decent car is the Accord Coupe V6 6MT, just like Baruth bought. No cylinder cut-out high jinks, silken engine, but desperately needs limited slip to control wheelspin when you feel enthusiastic. Cheaper than a GTI here in Canada. No, and I mean zero, contest.

    Virtually all these new cars blow the big one, as far as I’m concerned.

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    I don’t hate the CLA, nor do I love it. I would not buy one, but I could see a lot of young kids loving it. I could see myself buying a lightly used one for my kid if I had a kid. I am actually shocked I don’t see more of them out there than I do to be honest.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      But very few young kids will buy one new, if any. They will be bought by middle-aged women, who have been behind the wheel of every one I have ever seen on the road. Empty nesters with plenty of money to spend, who no longer need the big mommy mobile. This car is FAR more stylish than a CamCord could ever hope to be, and the AWD is a big bonus up here in the frozen north.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    I would love for Mercedes to bring over a four-cylinder, six- or seven-speed diesel C-Class here to the states. The’re very common the UK and the rest of Europe, but due to silly, silly EPA, we don’t get to enjoy a well-built yet economical small luxury car or for other matters, the advantages of a diesel-powered vehicle. Not counting trucks, commercial vehicles or SUVs, we have how many current diesel “car” offerings?

    Hmmm…the Jetta TDI, the E350 CDI, and I think that’s about it. Does the Beetle have a TDI? Is there a Passat TDI?

    I honestly, truly don’t think I’m leaving anything out. And, besides the E-Class, none of the pathetically few offerings for diesels appeal to me. And even then, the E-Class doesn’t strike my fancy. It’s not an inline-4 or and inline-6, it’s a V6.

    How sad.

    When I replace my Chrysler 200 ten years from now (an event I’m not really looking forward to as I’m so very afraid of not being able to make a decision and being able to find something I’d be happy to own) I’m thinking about treating myself to a Mercedes, coincidentially timed around my 40th b-day.

    I only want a diesel, because for some reason, I associate Mercedes with their vast experience in making a good, reliable and efficient diesel engine. A gasoline-powered Mercedes doesn’t excite me, though their gassers aren’t too shabby.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    That is the ugliest inside of a car I’ve seen in years.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Day late, but is it just me or do Mercedes Fanbois make more declarative unsubstantiated claims per gallon than any other? Let me say this; just because you say it with certainty doesn’t lend it credibility any more. You used that up. It’s gone.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I saw one of these in person yesterday and YIKES! The front is okay, but that thing takes droopy butt syndrome to an all new low.

    I’ve never really been a fan of Mercedes’ styling, but this is exceptional in its eye-gouging horridness.


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