By on February 22, 2018

mercedes benz cla 250

To be honest, I would have rather had anything else on the lot, and I do mean anything. However, when I arrived at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, National Car Rental was a bit short on cars on the ol’ Emerald Aisle. There was a line of people about ten deep waiting for cars to be brought up from the overflow lot, and I had a meeting to get to. So I did what anybody else (who rents 40 cars and spends about $10,000 annually with National) would do — I walked over to the “upgrade” area, hopped into the least expensive “luxury” car available, and drove it to the exit booth.

“I won’t be paying any extra for this,” I explained to the booth attendant, “because a Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 is not an upgrade.”

Three days and a couple hundred miles later, I realize how prescient I’d been at the time. I would have rather had a Chevrolet Impala, a Dodge Charger, or even a Nissan Altima over the Hungarian Baby Benz. Here’s why.

Let me try to do my best to explain to you what driving a CLA 250 in Miami-Dade County is like. You feel like a rolling chicane at all times, because the hamsters powering the four-cylinder motor act like they have been deprived of alfalfa, no thanks to the sluggish seven-speed automatic transmission.

MB claims a 0-60 time of around seven seconds for the CLA, but that’s irrelevant when it comes to the urban combat of Miami’s streets, because the lack of available torque means that you have to be more patient than you’d ever want to be. You can’t dart into available spaces or punch the throttle to make your way through a yellow light, and in Miami, that can be the difference between being on time for your appointment or being 10 minutes late. The one redeeming quality is that there’s very little torque steer, but that can be explained by the fact that there’s very little, you know, torque. 

Oh, I can’t forget to mention the automatic stop/start. It’s the roughest I’ve ever experienced. Passengers ask, “Is something wrong with the car?” It rattles every subpar piece of interior trim at each and every stoplight. I decided the extra fuel economy wasn’t worth it and shut it off.

Unlike the similarly priced competition from BMW and Audi, the CLA doesn’t feel like it’s related in any way to its more expensive stablemates. It’s painfully obvious that nobody at Benz has any idea how to tune the suspension of a FWD car. Understeer isn’t just “at the limit,” it’s a way of life. Spirited driving is rewarded with a thrust of the nose in whatever direction you were headed when you initially pressed the accelerator — steering inputs are treated with complete disregard.

mercedes benz cla 250 interior

It’s like somebody tried to design a reasonable facsimile of a C-Class interior, but said to the production line, “Make it look okay in photos, but make it feel like like a punishment when you actually sit in it. Remove any and all available headroom. Glue a Chinese iPad copy to the center of the dash, and make sure the UI is a strange combination of buttons on the dash, steering wheel, and armrest. Oh, and make finding a seating position that isn’t painful and awkward impossible. Got it? Oh, wait, don’t forget to make the stereo sound like it’s a couple of cans on a string!”

The rear seat is so tiny that it’s downright funny to any adults who try to use it. “This isn’t even a full-sized door,” laughed one of my colleagues. “Are adults supposed to be able to sit back here?” Keep in mind, I’m 5’9″ on a good day, and there isn’t enough legroom behind my driver’s seat for a 10-year-old.

And I haven’t even talked about the way the damn thing looks yet. It’s like somebody put a CLS into the trash compactor on the Death Star — I can almost hear C-3PO crying every time I look at it. They call it a “four-door coupe” to make up for the fact that it’s got a claustrophobia-inducing cabin, a completely unusable back seat and zero available headroom, but that doesn’t make it look any better from the outside. The wheels resemble Pep Boys special hubcaps, and they’re wrapped with run-flat tires that are totally unfamiliar with the concept of lateral g-forces.

But perhaps the most awful thing about driving the CLA 250 is the way you feel about yourself when you drive it. You feel like a fraud. A fake. A phony. You envy people in C-Classes. You imagine that people in E-Classes are actually vomiting as they pass you. You think about the $35,000 or so that you spent on it and you realize that you could have gotten something like a Fusion Sport, a Golf R, a Focus RS, hell, even a pimped-out Camry XSE. Any and all of them would have been better options — better driving dynamics, better construction, but most of all, they’re real. A Fusion is a Fusion. It’s not a pretend Continental.

mercedes benz cla 250 rear

And then somebody who doesn’t know much about cars hops in and says, “Wow, nice Mercedes! This thing is really pretty. I like it. How much does it cost? Only $33,000! Oh my goodness, that’s less than my Accord!” This actually happened to me this morning. And if you’re like me, you start complaining and apologizing and pointing out things like the fact that the infotainment system doesn’t recognize a USB device unless you turn it off and turn it back on. But it’s too late — the Benz star has already had its desired effect.

So I get it. I understand why the CLA 250 has to exist, even if MB should be offering a $5,000 “CLA devaluation” discount on every other model they sell. But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it.

And I don’t.

[Images: Mark “Bark M.” Baruth/TTAC]

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183 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: The Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Is a Shining Beacon of Inauthenticity...”


  • avatar
    make_light

    I’d like to say this article is a (humorous) piece of hyperbole. It isn’t. I have a friend who owns one. Even the front passenger seat is stupidly cramped- I’m 6’2 and my knees were up in the air. All the materials feel hollow, ride is flinty. I usually support people in whatever they want to buy (we can’t all drive VW Golfs and Mazda 3s, despite what everyone around here seems to wish), but I can’t see why any clearly thinking person would buy this.

  • avatar
    pdl2dmtl

    A car for wannabe posers. This includes also the AMG version.
    One guy who owns one once told me: But it is the cheapest AMG you can have. That says it all.
    I can’t stop laughing when I see one.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      pdl2dmtl, the CLA may be the cheapest NEW AMG, but used Mercedes cars depreciate rapidly. If you can do car repairs, you probably can afford to own a Mercedes. You’ll just do a lot of cursing while wishing painful death on the German engineer who made the car unnecessarily hard to repair.

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      How to be a poser: go to junk yard, buy Mercedes insignias, & install MB logos on Camry. Voila! A Benz that’s a reliable DD!

    • 0 avatar
      blppt

      I dont like either the CLA nor the GLA series, but holy hell does the AMG versions go like stink. So I wouldnt be laughing for long as they leave me in the dust.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    The CLA 250 exists for the primary reason as, shockingly, some women (the only people I have seen driving a CLA) actually buy a purse/handbag that is hideous brown, over sized and has someones initials on it for north of 1k. Now, I do not believe the women who buy 1k hand bags buy a CLA 250, those women buy a Lexus. Perhaps I should clarify here.
    There are a lot of women who buy $100 hideous brown knock off purses with some stupid initials on it, who will buy a CLA 250 as they can’t afford an E-Class or have sealed the deal yet with a Mr. to buy upgrade them as of yet.
    Kudos for MB for proving, again, that the general public in many cases lacks for taste or sensibility and buys on perceived brand/image alone.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Is there some factory somewhere that makes all those nasty 5 spoke rims? Every automaker buys same ones and puts them on the “our customer is too cheap, so they get crappy rims” trim level.

  • avatar
    ernest

    Good writeup, although I think you were being charitable.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    A low priced, crappy MB is a bad idea. It will dilute the brand. Packard in their glory days were a good step above Cadillac, the depression came, Packard added the Clipper, more like a Buick. The brand never recovered. I’m not saying this will be a disaster for MB, but it will hurt them a bit. Cadillac Cimarron comes to mind too. Too bad MB was too stupid to make the Chrysler takeover work. This should have been the Dodge 250, designed by the old Chrysler Corp, so it would have been a nice car.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      The difference is the Packard 120 and Clipper were excellent cars, they just weren’t as large, fancy, or expensive as the senior Packards. In other words, the junior Packards were the best cars of their time in the “near luxury” class, and people who bought them got a great of car for the money. In contrast, the CLA is a piece of crap, and people who buy them are idiots because there are literally dozens of better alternatives.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      The Cimarron was a hastily developed crash project to give Cadillac an entry level car that was a clone of the existing Cavalier/J-Car. In some ways the CLA is worse because Mercedes started with a clean sheet of paper and all of their engineering resources and intentionally made it this way.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      Mercedes has been here once before with the C230 Kompressor in the late 90’s/early 00’s (which started around $25,000). I recall one time driving my bosses E400 on a couple of occasions, which I loved so much that it had me considering a C230K (as it was the only MB I could afford at the time). After test driving it I decided there was zero chance I’d buy it. Everything that made the E400 great was absent from the C230K, and everything awful about the C230K was missing from the E400. It was a Mercedes in name only, and after that I gave up on the idea of owning one until I made a lot more money.

      • 0 avatar
        pdq

        Let’s not forget about the W201, or 190 Class from the early 80’s. What a piece of junk that was early on. I think they got better in the last couple of years, but the 190E was so cheap it makes today’s CLA look like a Maybach by comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Bark’s last 3 paragraphs explain why the this MB had to be. To the uninitiated, the CLA 250 is a real Mercedes. And some of these customers might move up the Mercedes line as they move up in their careers.

      Also, not that Acura is competing with Mercedes, they do sell $40+k FWD premium vehicles. Ir seems like Mercedes is saying “oh yeah?” and answering with a $33K FWD vehicle of their own.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      People have been saying that, but the CLA hasn’t had any effect on the prestige (or sales) of the S Class (if anything, the S Class has further separated itself from the other flagship sedans (MB work vans also haven’t had much, if any, negative impact).

      S Class owners see themselves as S Class owners first and foremost and then Mercedes owners.

      And this is hardly the first time MB has offered “cheap” models – esp. in other markets (such as the original A Class), with the C200 Kompressor being the best example here.

      That being said, the CLA and the corresponding GLA are crap and with the ILX, are the best examples of models masquerading a luxury models.

      Not only is something like the A3 vastly superior to the CLA, just about every mainstream compact sedan has a better ride quality than the CLA (and something like the Civic Si and Elantra Sport have better ride quality and are better handlers).

      Heck, even something like the new Rio and Accent probably have better road manners and NVH than the CLA.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s the conventional thought but the lower priced Packards kept the company in business for a couple of decades.

      Packard, along with Peerless and Pierce-Arrow, was one of the “Three Ps of Motordom”, ranked above Lincoln and Cadillac. Peerless went out of business in 1931. Pierce-Arrow folded in 1938.

      Had James Nance at Packard agreed to George Mason’s proposal to merge the independents into a 4th conglomerated American automaker, the brand likely would have survived even longer than it did.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    So you disliked the car?

    I’m from Florida and I think the plate suits this turd.

    On a recent rental of a C300 I couldn’t believe that it was now an upgrade over something else in MB’s offerings

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    They’re not vomiting. They’re laughing. Perhaps laughing so hard that they’re vomiting, but they’re laughing. Trust me. I was one of them. :)

  • avatar
    JMII

    Sorry you had to go thru FLL (my home airport), but its better then MIA. Anyway…

    My wife test drove the previous model coupe version of this or the 350 – I can’t remember, but it was very disappointing. The interior was a random button fest (this newer one looks better), the steering was loose and sloppy, the throttle response was poor and the suspension was stiff and jarring. To get the thing to move you had to floor it, I understand its a turbo 4 but the Volvo we were trading in was also a turbo and it moved great. The accelerator pedal felt heavy and sticky – you had to mash it with serious effort to move it at all, very odd feeling. Combined with a stiff ride yet sloppy steering it wasn’t inspiring or fun to drive at all. I find the typical Kia Sonata rental a much better car in almost every regard. My wife got an Infiniti Q60 coupe instead of the Benz and has is thrilled with the fancy Nissan ever since.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    In my little pea brain, I think of the S-Class as the seminal Mercedes Benz, and the 3-series as the most genuine expression of what BMW is, and the farther away you get from those norms, the worse the vehicle becomes…this little turd is WAY too many degrees of separation from the S-Class.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Today I think the S-Class point holds, but the most genuine expression of BMW is now the X3.

    • 0 avatar
      IBx1

      The current M2 is the last BMW worth driving. One just took 1st place in adjusted times for our latest autocross down here, and it looked perfect on every lap while I worked a u-turn corner.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        The new M5 is getting kudos – the “miracle” of a lighter weight platform.

      • 0 avatar

        I spent a few days with an M2. Seats, suspension, LSD. All great. The blown six was tractable in traffic but tossed the hammer hard when asked….

        I wanted to go to Germany, find the person who signed off on the steering, and strangle him in his office. You know what the wheels are doing…the chassis is linear….the engine is predictable…but nothing comes back through the wheel. How could BMW get this wrong ? I had the same feeling in an F30 3 series as well.

        How could BMW (of all makers) get this wrong ?

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Steering feel is a historical strong point for the brand, so this is too bad. The transition to electric steering has not been kind to BMW; they just aren’t good at it.

          In their defense, I think only Mazda and sometimes Honda offer good electric steering feedback.

    • 0 avatar
      Reino

      I’ve always found it odd that most people don’t revere the 7-series like they do the S-class. When I think BMW’s in 80’s and 90’s movies, Its always a rich guy in a 7. Sometime around the turn of the millennia did the 3-series become a trendy thing for enthusiast drivers, but the classy gentleman always drove the 7, just like the S-class.

      • 0 avatar
        pdq

        I used to be one of those who revered the 7 series. Today, if given the choice of an Alpina B7 or the Audi S8 plus, I’d take the Audi. I think it looks better and I imagine the handling would be better too.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      America doesn’t get the 1 series, a horrible car that looks like a Hyundai i30 which started off life as a Rover 45 replacement, a tiny “I have a BMW” model for those who were desperate to own a BMW.

      BMW soon realised that these type of people don’t care what end their wheels drive, so the new model shares a FWD MINI platform.

      • 0 avatar
        newenthusiast

        We used to get the 1 Series until 2013. My wife drives one. It never looked like the i30, which we don’t get here. It was always a coupe or a convertible.

        In fact, while a smaller and less comfortable than her previous E46 coupe, its has a far more powerful engine and a lovely 7 speed DCT. It’s a hoot to drive. I think it was (until it was effectively replaced by the 2) the best expression of the their ‘Ultimate Driving Machine” tag line that they sold here. I haven’t driven a 2 (which is what Wikipedia says is essentially the 1 Series coupe), but the fun factor would be pretty hard to beat.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m going to make the controversial (?) statement and say that Mercedes turbo-4 engines suck major donkey ballz.

    The turbo-4 offerings from GM and BMW are rough, but at least they feel reasonably powerful. I don’t have enough experience with Honda, Toyota, Ford, or JLR’s turbo 4-cylinder options to have an opinion, but I bet they are better than Daimler.

    Audi/VW seem to do the best in this configuration.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I didn’t like the 4cyl engine in Clubman. And this is BMW engine.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’ve never driven this car, or any of the other turbo-fours ajla’s talking about, but I concur on the GM 2.0L turbo. I tried out an ATS and it’s somewhat rough (particularly at startup), but otherwise, it’s got tons of power, and the power delivery was impressively seamless.

      But it’s not refined.

      I suppose this gives me an excuse to try out everyone else’s entry-lux sedans now. Ah, life’s hardships…

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “I’m going to make the controversial (?) statement and say that Mercedes turbo-4 engines suck major donkey ballz.”

      Have you tried the one in the new E300? That one at least looks pretty good on paper, though I’d argue that if you can afford an E-class you might as well spring for the E400 and it’s two extra cylinders.

    • 0 avatar
      nvinen

      My wife has the Ford 2.0t in her Escape (not twin scroll). It’s quiet, smooth and has plenty of torque but the ~1s lag from idle drives me a bit crazy.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Perfect vehicle for a Miami pool boy who’s a “kept” individual.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    I decided to look on the MB.ca website to see how the CLA is marketed, these quotes say it all:

    “An entirely new seductive style at an even more irresistible price.”

    “Seductive, from top to bottom line.”

    “From its diamond-block grille to its LED taillamps, there may be no car on the road offering such eye-catching style at such an eye-opening price.”

    Also gotta love the names MB use for the GADGETS in their cars

    COMAND
    LINGUATRONIC
    DISTRONIC (sonic distractions?)

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      Sonic dissonance. I’m in.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      “Seductive” is corporate marketing-speak for “buy this and you will feel like you got royally screwed”.

    • 0 avatar
      pdq

      Actually Distronic is part of the Adaptive Cruise Control. We had it on a 2001 CL500, but since I don’t use cruise control, I never turned it on. I found the following description for it:

      The sytem is known as Distronic and was introduced in the late 90s S-class. The current version is known as Distronic Plus. The system uses radar to lock onto the vehicle in front and is effectively adaptive cruise control, so it will slow if the car in front slows and brake (to a stop) if necessary. You can adjust the distance to the vehicle in front (which is useful in slow moving, stop/start traffic as it results in a more gentle braking pattern

  • avatar
    x-defector

    A co-worker from Kazakhstan bought one of these for himself, as a reward for breaking into a computer programming gig at such a young age. He figured he get himself some of that all-important status and cred. He traded in a 2012 Mazda 3 for it.

    The MB was an abject downgrade in every conceivable measure.

    I have no idea what he was thinking. The 3 of that generation, which looked like the vehicular embodiment of Pikachu, still looked better than that Down syndrome, droopy arse and face, submissive-coyote looking turd…and that was the very least of its offenses. Terrible cars.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Interesting that Bark trashed the looks of this car – the styling is the ONLY thing about it that I actually like (in fact, I think it looks great). But since we’re piling on this thing, I’ll join in.

    1) Next time you come across one of these, press down on the front end cap. It’s that flexy-plastic stuff, like they used to put on the front ends of Firebirds back in the ’70s. F’ing hilarious.

    2) TONS of cheap-looking, cheap-feeling interior plastics.

    3) The doors feel cheap when they’re opened and closed.

    4) I do believe these still use the same “smart key that isn’t actually a key” that you’d find on a 2005 300.

    Just so much wrong here.

    Regardless of how bad this car is, it does sell. The question, of course, is whether selling a Mercedes at this price point truly dilutes the brand. This model does, but they can redeem themselves with the upcoming replacement. Entry level vehicles, done right, don’t necessarily dilute the brand.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Remember when every review of a Mercedes would have a comment about the “vault like sound of the doors”? Apparently Mercedes didn’t remember either when they designed this turd.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Yup, even in the 80’s and 90’s when you purchased a 190 aka the Baby Benz it had a vault like quality. Essentially 3/4 of an S-class.
        I see a number of CLA’s in my area. They’re usually driven by younger people who probably say “A Benz for what a Camry or Altima costs”. A few times I’ve walked near them while idling and the engine sounds quite course and un Benz like. Spend a few extra for a C-Class essentially today’s 190, it’s way better.

      • 0 avatar
        ThomasSchiffer

        Nostalgia can be a good thing, but sometimes I feel it makes you lose focus of the facts.

        Many cars from the pre-1990 days had heavy doors which made a nice sound when you opened them and slammed them shut. That didn’t mean anything since in those days cars were being made with little regard to keeping the weight down.

        These days everything is lightweight and as a result of this craze the doors on virtually all modern cars (except perhaps on a few huge SUVs) feel and sound light.

        The doors on a Mercedes S class from the 1970s felt heavy. On the 1980s model designed by that Italian fellow they felt lighter. On the W140 from the early 1990s they felt even lighter. It’s the result of reducing weight, not a lack of quality. My father owned several disposable Opels in the 1980s and their doors made lovely ‘quality’ sounds when you opened and closed them. The cars were still terrible.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Most Benzes these days still close with a solid thud as well as something like the Genesis sedans.

          The downside is that they tend to be heavier than most others in their segments.

          Neither Benz nor Genesis have yet gone down the path of lightweight platforms (which are coming) and still use copious amounts of high tensile steel.

          • 0 avatar
            ThomasSchiffer

            The doors on my 2007 GL320 CDI close with a reassuring thud. But it is a rather soft kind of thud, a dampened thud. Not the metal on metal thud that you got on pre-1990s cars.

            Interestingly, the doors on my beater 1995 Renault Twingo (a disposable multiple pre-owner car with 350,000+ km) also close with a wonderful metal on metal sound.

            The doors on my GL are heavier than those of the Twingo. But the GL has dampening materials all around the door lock area, and was probably engineered to close with a soft sound. The lighter doors of the Twingo make a loud metal on metal noise because there is no insulation attempting to soften the sound when the doors are closed.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          I always thought the door close thing was more about closing smoothly to a perfect seal than a heavy thud. The design of the door brake and the seals on the door frame make a bigger difference than the weight of the materials.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      That Escort must be pretty nice!

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Do people in other countries worry so much about the brand being diluted? I was in Istanbul a few weeks ago, and by far the most common Mercedes were A-Class cars that aren’t sold here, CLAs, and GLAs that are being pushed heavily by the company.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        No, because only in North America is Mercedes seen as exclusively an exclusive luxury car brand. In the rest of the world they sell everything from garbage trucks to taxis to vans to the S-class. And nobody cares.

        I’ve had a few of these cars as rentals. I don’t love them, I don’t hate them. I think they are a size too small for the price, but I suspect the upcoming sedan version will largely fix that. I hate Mercedes ergonomics to start with, this one is no worse than any of the rest of them. I certainly did not find the cars in particularly slow or unresponsive, but I did dislike the automatic more than I dislike most automatics. Mercedes has never made great autoboxes.

        My rental this week was one of my rental favorites – a Regal Turbo. A car that deserves to be more popular. Drives just like a Saab 9-3SS.

        • 0 avatar
          WallMeerkat

          “Regal Turbo. A car that deserves to be more popular. Drives just like a Saab 9-3SS.”

          And there is a reason for that, it is a rebadged Insignia the model which replaced the Vectra, the model that the 9-3SS was based on.

          GM learnt a lot from Saab, and their platform partners – indeed the Alfa Romeo 159 was the best Saab that Saab never built :)

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            I’m with you on the Regal turbo. If you are a Saab fan and looking at a replacement the Regal comes close.
            The T-type is a understated value compared to a A4 or C-class.
            If I needed a pre owned family or sport sedan I would put this at the top of my list over a Camry or Accord.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Isn’t this the same engine/transmission combo as in the MB GLA and the Infiniti QX30??? Why have the reviews of these cars not been as scathing??

  • avatar
    dal20402

    If you live in any Car2Go city, these are now your Car2Go cars. And that’s appropriate. They feel like cheap fleet specials, except without any interior room.

    Eventually this platform (which is soon going to bring us an A-Class sedan in addition to the CLA and GLA) is going to do actual harm to the Mercedes brand.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I don’t think the platform is the issue. I think the execution is. I won’t deny the CLA-Class is a sorry little car in every conceivable way, but that’s down to how it was cost-cut. If the A-Class can feel about as good as a Golf or even a Civic, while providing Mercedes-Benz-style toys, it will make more sense.

    • 0 avatar
      ThomasSchiffer

      In the 1990s Mercedes made cars which were much worse than the CLA and their image was not harmed because the firm backed it up with other products that were better.

      The cars I am thinking of are the first generation A-Klasse and its Vaneo based van and the rust-prone V-Klasse/Vito van, which was built in Spain. The M-Klasse SUV also deserves a mention, but its interior was good compared to these cars. These three cars had really horrible interiors which indicated severe cost cutting. The A-Klasse was a very innovative car with the sandwich floor concept and angled transverse motors, but the cabin did not feel or look premium. But maybe not everyone cared about that.

      I have no experience with the CLA but I did examine them when I bought my second hand GL320 CDI. They make an ok impression on me. The interior feels very well made and the cabin materials feel good. It is obviously a step or two below a C-/E-Klasse, but I do not think it is a horrible quality cabin. The reason I would never buy one is because they are impractical, lack interior space and they look awkward. But judging it purely from an interior point of view I do not think it is bad. I have seen worse from the brand.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The entry level CLA is pretty dire. The loaded up ones are a LOT nicer inside, but then the price gets stupid.

  • avatar
    Hydromatic

    I spent a few minutes inside a CLA 250 during an auto show a couple of years back. First impressions? It looked like a Mercedes-Benz, but it sure as hell didn’t feel like one. The materials felt a couple of steps below what you’d find in a C or E-Class. I could imagine I’d look like a poser and a tryhard if I actually drove that car.

    Immediately afterward, I walked over to the Acura section and sat down in a similarly priced TLX. The TLX looked and felt miles better, despite the unfortunate schnoz.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      Maybe this is why Mercedes is withdrawing from participating in auto shows—being able to easily compare other cars against the CLA is bad for their business.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      My dad and I went to NAIAS. He’s not a car guy, but climbed into it and kept saying ‘this is a Mercedes? That Civic was much nicer’

      Also, a friend briefly dated a guy with one of these (leased of course). I told her he will be a total d-bag. And I was proven right.

  • avatar

    *Views headline picture*

    Involuntary sentence in my head: “What a cheap piece of sh_t.”

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    God these are hateful little machines.

  • avatar
    MeJ

    Well…
    The steering wheel’s nice.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    The base trim version with the yellow halogen headlights honestly looks like one of the cheapest cars on the road right now, up there with the pre-refresh Jeep Patriot / Compass and the first-gen Rogue. Just cheap and nasty.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    How many of these are bought as opposed to leased?
    So what happens to M-B’s resale when all those leased vehicles are returned?
    Do some other ‘fashion victims’ with even less money then purchase them?
    And just how much actual maintenance will the original leasors (hope that is correct) get performed at M-B dealer rates?

    At least the B-class is an honest people mover.

  • avatar
    RHD

    It really looks like a Hyundai.
    Sorry, Hyundai, I know that’s offensive, to compare this cheapo Mercedes to your almost-Japanese cars.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      Funny, when we rented a CLA I commented that it reminded me of our daughter’s 2011 Elantra, from the overwrought styling to the cardboard ride quality.

      In fairness, however, there’s a world of difference between the two cars when it comes to roominess, visibility, ease of operation and predicted reliability. The CLA isn’t even in the Elantra’s league.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    The target buyer would be better served – if only just – by buying a base Altima and sticking Benz badges on it…

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    Please buy a GTI instead.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      But OMG, it’s not a Mercedes! I think the only reason these sell is the logo on the front end. It can’t be because it’s an enjoyable car to drive.

      • 0 avatar

        I learned via Harry’s Garage that there’s a Golf R Wagon in the EU.

        What the heck!

        *Also the Golf R is too expensive. Buy an Audi.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I think the CLA was the first Mercedes to have the light-up star as an option for the front grille. That told me all I needed to know about this car.

        • 0 avatar
          WallMeerkat

          “There’s no hatch stickshift Audi in the EU market? They always get things we don’t. I figured there was an A3 or A4 small hatch/wagon.”

          Don’t know what people are smoking, but in Europe you can get your A1 hatch / A3 hatch or A4 saloon-sedan / estate-wagon with a manual or automatic gearbox.

          For some reason the Europeans prefer manual boxes, even in congested cities with stop-start traffic.

        • 0 avatar

          Yes, but sadly the showoff star option has spread to other models. I saw it on a big MB truck yesterday and I’m pretty sure it was OE

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Not to defend this car, but anyone who thinks a cheap Benz is strange doesn’t know the brand outside of the US. They dipped their toe into the cheap end of the pool a good 21 years ago and haven’t looked back.

    As cynical and awful as this car is I can’t knock a good hustle when I see one. MB has convinced people to pay 2x for a subpar notch back Golf (not a Jetta, there’s a difference).

    I think this could have been interesting as an ES fighter but that would put SERIOUS pressure on the E-Class, even with the cheap interior and awful dynamics.

    • 0 avatar
      ernest

      Just as an aside, we saw Cadillac do this a few decades ago. We’ve seen this movie before- and know how it ends.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        The Cimmarron didn’t bring Cadillac down; everything Cadillac sold from the late 70s until the Escalade did. The S-Class is still the standard of luxury by a wide margin. In the US, at least, the CLA is an aberration for MB, not the norm.

        • 0 avatar
          ernest

          I’ve driven a few C-Class Mercedes’s. They’re much better than the CLA. BUT… I wouldn’t trade my wife’s Camry for one straight up. There- I said it. Friggin’ appliance is screwed together like a Rolex, doors shut the way Mercedes’s USED TO, SE trim gives you a reasonable suspension compromise between ride/handling, six-speed transmission shifts smoothly, and has a shift lever that actually makes sense. I could go on…

          Now… I bought a new C280 back in ’95, had a 280SL Pagoda, my dad drove Mercedes’s for over 20 years. I know what a Mercedes should feel like. These new cars aren’t all that. I haven’t driven a new E-Class (the outgoing model was great). The S-Class is still… well, an S-Class. No argument on that front. But I wouldn’t drive any of them out of warranty.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        There is a BIG difference between this and a Cimarron. You can’t go across the street and buy one of these for 1/2 the price with a different badge on it. It may be a relatively crap Mercedes, but it is still a Mercedes.

        • 0 avatar
          ernest

          Local Mercedes dealer has been advertising a C-Class lease for $299 down, $299/mo. That’s Camry money. Here’s my question- how can it be a prestige item if virtually anyone with a decent credit and job can afford one?

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Well, aside from the whole CLA being a subcompact and the ES being a full-size thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      But the difference is the cheap end Mercedes in Europe look like inexpensive cars. Hatchbacks, people movers.

      In America, they have to tart the cheap car up to look like a C-class. Or, at least, that was their intent . . . . . God forbid that Americans find out that M-B makes something other than luxury cars.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Missed opportunity: The HVAC vents should have 3 spokes to match the MB logo. Additional reminder to the owner that he has a Benz.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I have to laugh every time I see one of these stupid things on the road. A cramped FWD penalty box isn’t a real Mercedes-Benz.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Reading the comments, gives me a thought/question.

    Since every now and again the pick up thread comes around and folks like to claim that CC pick up drivers are poseurs have small something or other so on and so forth.

    I find that line of thinking to be stupid, as a CC pick up IMHO is the most useful, practical, longest lasting jack of all trades vehicle out there, and they can be had for mid 30’s when the deals come around, which they always do.

    How then does the pile above get a pass? It is cramped, over priced, has a hideous dash with that stupid I-pad looking thinking seeming glued to the dash pad not considered the greatest poseur vehicle ever produced? It has zero redeeming qualities, is not useful. Quite honestly I would gladly drive a CC chevy Silverado in tradesman white with cloth seats and basic infotainment over this turd any day of the week.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    Had a similar experience with a Volvo S90. Total and utter pos, trading off the volvo name.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Spot on, Jack.

    We rented one of these things in Europe last summer – also a free “upgrade” – and it was abysmal. Noisy wooden ride, cheap claustrophobic interior, and that unshakable feeling that you’re a $399-a-month poseur.

    The car’s one redeeming feature was the turbodiesel mill under the hood. Quite thrifty, and quite satisfying for squirting through city traffic.

    Overall, no thanks. For the money I’ll take a CPO Audi A4, Volvo S60, or shiny new Accord.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    They put a Benz badge on a Chrysler CUV when they were involved with them, I can’t remember what it was called though. It was like a Dodge Nitro or something but people thought they were getting a Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      ernest

      I actually think it was the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the MB version turned out as the GL series. I’m told my Charger has it’s roots in a prior version of the Mercedes E-Class.

    • 0 avatar
      MLS

      No.

    • 0 avatar
      PentastarPride

      Chrysler never produced a car for MB. The Pacifica CUV (2004-08) was commonly mistakened as a rebadged Mercedes. Conversely, people thought that that the R-Class was a reskinned Pacifica.

      The Pacifica was based on the RS minivans (2001-07) and was FWD (with an option for an AWD transaxle). The R-Class, if memory serves correctly, was based on it’s M-Class contemporary and was RWD/AWD.

      The current platform for the Durango/JGC is derived from the X164, but nothing crossed over. It’s kind of like the JS 200 being distantly related to the Mitsubishi Lancer, those cars branched off from a general platform.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    “The Mercedes-Benz CLA-class. Buy the badge, we’ll throw in the car for free. That’s value. Market share, or nothing.”

    Small print: “Just please don’t test drive a loaded Mazda3, Fusion Titanium or Accord Sport first. Pretty please?”

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Minor point, but the Accord Sport is the 2nd from the bottom Accord trim level with 19-inch wheels and some performance upgrades with manual transmissions available. The EX-L is roughly equivalent to the Fusion Titanium trim level for about $30k. However, I agree that those well equipped mass market cars are better vehicle for the money than an entry level CLA.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Yes, I knew the Sport wasn’t the top trim. I should have said Fusion Sport, like Mark mentioned, as an alternative. Any of these cars, along with the recently refined and turbocharged Mazda6 would be punching above the CLA level.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    This car does have one of the worst back seats I’ve ever been in. No headroom at all, and the rear door opening is a joke.

    Worse, this was a CLA180 D. So not only did it look like crap, it sounded that way too. I seriously thought something was wrong with the car, until I got out and saw the “D” badge on the trunklid.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I want to see a satire video version of “I’m on a Boat” with “I’m in a Benz” featuring this crass cash in short term move on Mercedes remaining brand value.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Eddie Palmieri. Very cool, Bark…

  • avatar
    MLS

    By my observation, CLA is also the MB model most likely to sport an illuminated three-pointed star up front. Tackiness knows no bounds.

  • avatar
    rentonben

    I LOVE THIS CAR!

    It totally redeems my Saturn ION.

  • avatar
    Hoon Goon

    MB knows its customers. The HUGE back-lit badges on the grills say “I’m a redneck, but do have a full time job”.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Rednecks drive Silverados that are lifted with blacked out bowties and black wheels. I wouldn’t drive that as my own personal choice, but I do respect the owner.

      I don’t respect this, or its owner. I know I drive an old car that isn’t worth much more (on paper) than one lease payment on this abortion. But, I wouldn’t trade mine for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      “…at a Cricket Wireless kiosk in a failing mall.”

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    “But perhaps the most awful thing about driving the CLA 250 is the way you feel about yourself when you drive it. You feel like a fraud.”

    Best line in the review, it encapsulates the damage some think this car has done to the brand. Don’t worry, though. They’ve got another entrant coming soon to slot *below* the CLA, which has mysteriously jumped 10% in price since launch.

    I’ve only sat in one of these and that was quite enough. I was at my local Merc dealership (as one tends to do) buying a not-new non-Mercedes and poked around one that was being badly embarrassed by everything else on the showroom floor. I thought the interior materials were a bit cheap for a Benz but just fine for a $30K starting point. But this one was optioned to $38K. The cabin is *ridiculously* cramped–there is no hyperbole about that in this review. The seats are confining, the beltline is high, the roof rail is low, the b-pillar encroaches, it is a true mess. The Audi A3 leaves a much better impression. This thing is gross. If you want an inexpensive German car get a Golf. Any of them.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    Not to defend the car, but you are aware that this car is being marketed as a ‘4-door-coupe’, a smaller mini CLS if you will. Rear passenger space is not going to be its selling point.

    • 0 avatar
      W210Driver

      It is also marketed to non-traditional Mercedes buyers, so young professionals (male and female).

      I think the people who go for the CLA know exactly what they are buying. A budget Benz below the C-Class.

      • 0 avatar
        ThomasSchiffer

        @W210Driver,

        I am a first-time Mercedes owner (2007 GL320 CDI) but I understand the reason why these smaller Mercedes cars exist. In that niche I would go for the GLA because I like the off-road look of that car.

        The CLA is basically a sedan version of the A-Klasse which is the smallest Mercedes product in Europe. The A-Klasse is actually a nice car, roomier than a CLA. I don’t like the CLA (I think it looks awkward, not ugly, but awkward) but I would not go as far as hating on it. I have no experience with it and I do not like to hate on a product which I have never experienced.

        Here most CLA owners seem to be young professionals, as you stated. But I live in Germany.

        • 0 avatar
          MoDo

          I dont know if this car is doing them any favors. Around here there are (were) more C-classes and 3-series than Civics. Since the CLA came out all of the former generation C-classes that were everywhere have been replaced by CLA’s.

          Why? They took back their C-classes at end of lease and saw the CLA sitting there. Same big badge in the grille and the lease payment was less.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I’m not sure where you are at, but in the US the C-Class vastly outsells the CLA.

            Last year it was 77K units versus 21K. So if you are seeing a ton of CLAs, that kind of an anomaly.

            As a dips*t young professional millennial that works with others of that demographic, my anecdata says the Mercedes has some trouble connecting with younger people that could otherwise afford their cars because BMW & Audi far outnumber them in my office park.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I see lots of CLAs, but most of them have Car2Go logos. I see a lot more privately owned GLAs, and the kids seem to like those fine (along with their Q3 and X1 equivalents).

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            In SW Florida they seem to be driven largely by ladies of a certain age who lunch. And Hertz at the airport has a bunch of them – I ended up with them when I went down to my place for some weekends last summer.

            My Mother thinks they are adorable, but she is a member of the above group of ladies.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Young professionals used to buy the C Class (altho the 3 Series was the “go-to” model) before it got bigger and more expensive.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    I’ve often wondered how many people get put off a car they’d probably actually enjoy, just because they read a review by some jaded autojourno who hated the thing for a bunch of reasons that frankly, don’t apply to the normal people who would actually buy the car.

    Normal people aren’t like autojournos. They don’t drive 40 or 50 new cars a year and develop sensitivities to piddling little things that those of us who might buy ONE new car every fourth or fifth year would never notice or care about.

    Probably 95% of people who buy a Mercedes or a BMW don’t care about driving dynamics, because what they really bought was two badges with a car in between.

    This is also why, if I had my own car company, I’d NEVER allow the motoring press access to one of my vehicles for a review.

    They’d pen some scathing, five-page hatchet piece full of complaints about leather texture and steering feel and a dozen other bullshit things you can’t put a yardstick to. It could be the best car ever made, but they don’t like it because it’s Not German.

    This is essentially the problem facing Cadillac, because there’s nothing wrong with their machinery.

    Besides, what’s with the complaints about “inauthenticity?” You sound like those guys who complain about music “not being real.”

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I can’t let that Cadillac comment go.

      Cadillac has some real issues with their machinery.

      Until EXTREMELY recently, they were still selling a V8 that was known to have a slew of issues at high mileage.

      CUE is a terrible system whether you’re renting, reviewing, or buying.

      The turbo V6 in the ATS-V is miserable. There isn’t a single Cadillac where the transmission feels like it knows what to do next.

      Finally, pretty much every car they make has less room than the segment competitors… and that even includes the Escalade, because the Navigator has more room.

      • 0 avatar
        Peter Gazis

        Jack Baruth

        Size-you should read the article above

        CUE probably the most advanced system out there a bit complicated and it does take some getting use to. Like a new cell phone

        ATS-V fantastic car with a tin of reviews. I missed the 1 that complained about the transmission

        Engine used to have problems at high miles. I won’t get to high miles til long after the car is paid for. Good to know at that point Cadillac buyers get the engine fixed instead of buying a new car.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d wondered about the CTS V Sport now that they are 30k or so off lease, but this comment about the turbo six from a legitimately jaded reviewer makes me wonder. :)

        The biggest problem with my CTS was the transmission, and a re tune was the answer. Still not perfect but the committee GM convenes to select your gears and occasionally allow some throttle has been fired.

        Caddy also suffers from inferior parts for lesser cars hidden away in the premium exterior. Every commodity part on the 3.6 has been replaced. Genuine GM Parts ! They are cheap, but the frequency would kill a full price retail customer.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “This is also why, if I had my own car company, I’d NEVER allow the motoring press access to one of my vehicles for a review.”

      Why? You write this like the motoring press isn’t full of cream puff shills wearing out their knee pads for charcuterie boards and press trips to exotic locals.

      To protect your worst vehicle from “wobble” (see below if you’re new) criticism you’ll be giving up effusive, slobbering praise for the rest of your line.

      thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/clarkson-burgess-the-wobble-and-the-chrysler-200/

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Take what you’d spend on this new, go back 5-years and see what that sum will get you in a used Mercedes, that’s the one you really want. Or better yet, an Acura/Infiniti/Lexus. Let’s face it, for that coin, you cant afford the depreciation on this or an out of warranty repair. Find a low mileage, documented Japanese luxury car and you’ll be better off.

  • avatar
    W210Driver

    Here we go again…

    My partner has a CLA250. Yes, it is cramped and small but for two average-sized adults upfront it’s perfectly fine. The seats are ok, the comfort is ok and the suspension is a little sporty/harsh. The A-pillars are fat and take away some outward vision, but eventually you adapt and cope and learn to live with it.

    Also, did we drive the same car? Because I disagree with the the negative description of the motor. This is a punchy and refined 4-cylinder turbo engine. It’s not slow or lacking in power. The 7-speed tranny is also a darling.

    Some people actually like the CLA, be it the unique design, the compact dimensions…whatever. My partner for example really likes the car. He really thinks it is a good-looking vehicle and this was one reason why he opted for a CLA over a C-Class. What about me? I am not a fan of the CLA’s style, but hey, it’s a nice little car that does its job. It’s a budget Benz but it’s not a bad car.

    In the end what really matters is that the owners are happy with their purchase. My partner loves his CLA. I have learned to appreciate it on road trips and in a way it is actually quite a fun and sporty car, but it’s not my first choice if I were going for a modern Benz.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “Yes, it is cramped and small…The seats are ok, the comfort is ok…the A-pillars are fat…but eventually you adapt and cope and learn to live with it…it’s not a bad car…in the end what really matters is that the owners are happy with their purchase”

      I don’t want to be too accusatory, but your defense of this car reads as someone wanting to defend the brand. If I didn’t know the vehicle being referenced, I would have assumed this was the justification for a $15K entry level commuter car bought out of pure fiscal necessity.

      • 0 avatar
        W210Driver

        30-Mile,

        I may own two Mercedes‘, but I am open to all brands. Long story short in case you are wondering, I bought my E300 Turbodiesel because of its long legs and comfort (and safety) and I inherited the rare E420 from a family member.

        Back to the CLA, it‘s a car with flaws, sure, but it‘s not as terrible as people claim. I would personally never buy one, but from a driving experience it‘s actually decent. It‘s relatively sporty and the comfort is ok, and for two adults the cabin space is fine. The CLA250 is not gonna set any speed records, but the motor is punchy and refined. Of course it sounds like a 4-cylinder under harsh acceleration but I am not the kind of person to count that against it. I also think it is well made, and the cabin certainly comes across as better made and higher quality than both of my W210 cockpits.

        Let me repeat myself; it‘s not my favorite Mercedes. In fact I would never consider one. But I can appreciate it and understand it. I just don‘t think it‘s this totally horrible car which it is made out to be by 99% of members here.

  • avatar
    drbethsk8s

    My 2006 C-Class was approaching 90K miles just before the original CLA was introduced (remember those Super Bowl commercials with Willem Dafoe promising a CLA for $29,900? Except that there wasn’t a shot in hell you’d actually find that model at a dealer without a bunch of costly extras).

    With initial CLA delivery promised in September 2013, I figured it would be a good time to trade in my 2006 for a new C-Class. Bought a 2013 C off the dealer floor outfitted exactly as I wanted it and got a great trade-in and overall price. Took one look at the CLA a few months later with its cheap interior, very happy about my decision. Got to drive a CLA as a loaner a few months later. Thanked heaven above for making my purchase at exactly the right time before the C-Class prices began to soar. Still happily driving the 2013 C300, which was one of the last years where the C-Class had excellent reliability. And for the record, never saw an original CLA priced under $34,000 at my dealer. Guess the CLA still appeals to the crowd that prefers a designer label over a great car.

  • avatar
    Oreguy

    A gateway drug for the badge-conscious crowd.

    CLA 250 = crank
    C, E, S, et al. = cocaine

    …or so the MB marketing strategists hope!

  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    I love every story that starts with “a coworker from Kazakhstan ,”

  • avatar
    V16

    Mercedes slogan ‘The Best or Nothing” has been replaced with ” A Three Pointed
    Star is good enough for the uninformed car buyer.”

  • avatar
    el scotto

    In a 3rd world country, you can buy a single cigarette from a street vendor. In a 3rd world country you can lean your AK against your chair as you drink your beer. BTW, 3rd world hookers cost about the same as two beers. The guy driving you to the airport in a 3rd world country will be driving a Mercedes E-class. If you left your driver your AK as a tip; he’d used it to shoot up a CLA. The E-class would solider on, traveling streets that Americans would have hissy fits and insist on an BOF SUV.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB

    I also had one as a recent rental. I hit a deer just before Christmas and did a bit of damage to my car. It was far worse for the deer.

    I didn’t dislike the car but I was constantly struck by the feeling that someone who wanted a car like this would be so much better off buying an Accord and saving $5K. But the reality I understand is that the additional $5K is for the cache of the three-pointed-star on the grille. Otherwise, the Honda would be superior in every way.

    Oddly, I found the stop/start to be the smoothest I’ve ever encountered. One of us must have experienced an anomaly. To be fair, my only other experience with this horrid technology is on GM rentals like the Malibu and Impala. I hate this feature.

    I’ll likely open myself to ridicule saying this, but I expected and got questions about this car in relation to my own car. I have a 2017 MKZ 3.0L AWD. Most people (non-car people) asked how I liked being in a more expensive M-B than my Lincoln. Look, I get that this is more a factor of Lincoln’s brand needing some improvement and the M-B brand being grossly overvalued on a car like the A-Class. An ‘as-driven’ comparison pegged the MKZ at about $18K CDN more costly than the CLA 250 AWD but most people expected the price differential to be in the other direction. But that’s brand perception more than anything else.

    The best part was after I dropped off the rental and picked up my MKZ again. The 3.0L has an abundance of power and torque and it felt damn good after the A-Class.

    I agree with the comment that you feel like a phony driving this. Normally I’ll arrive home from work a bit earlier than my wife so I’ll just leave the garage door open for her. When the CLA was my ride I’d back in and immediately close the door.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      My 16 year old daughter thinks these look like a Honda and would rather have the Honda.

      Unfortunately people see the peace symbol (I kid you not) in the grill and automatically think it is a great car because Mercedes.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Hot take, maybe, but I find it interesting how horrific the interior quality is in the CLA, but how the Lincoln Continental (with its Ford-grade plastics, which is to say only passable in a $25k car, let alone something twice as expensive) is pretty well respected. I offer no defense of the CLA other than that, but the interior thing is blown out of proportion.

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    Yup. I still have a handful of power window switches for this crapbox (my brother was working in assembly for almost 3 years) – they feel and sound like absolute garbage, and I actually had one fall apart as I was idly clicking it thinking about something. I had the thought to put them up on eBay, but it’s not worth it – my research show they sell for sub-$5 prices. Garbage.
    Only the AMG versions are better, but then again, for the price of an A45, wouldn’t you rather buy last year’s M3 instead and have a car that doesn’t fake-cough on upshifts?

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    Not sure about the car but this review is pretty superficial.

  • avatar
    Moparmann

    Looking at the picture of the seated driver, I have to ask myself the question AGAIN: WHY is the center console SO intrusive in a FWD car?!? There is NO WAY that I could be comfortable (6’4″,200lbs.) in that cramped cockpit!!

  • avatar
    gkhize

    No truer words were ever spoken. On a trip to Orlando last fall my son got a rental that was literally identical to the one in the pictures. When I first saw it I said “Nice, a Mercedes huh?” He’d driven it maybe 20 miles from the airport and said “Yeah, but it sucks. Rides rough, no power, and I can’t get comfortable”(he’s 6’4”). I ended up riding in it and had to agree, it was a POS. This thing must be haunted by ghosts of the old Chrysler marriage.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    This reminds me of that Malibu review. I’ve driven a ClA250. It competes just fine for its class. I happen to prefer it over the Audi A3. One could call any number of cars as wannabee or poseur. Why not call the entire Acura brand a poseur BMW? Or perhaps the Mercedes S550 is a wannabee Rolls-Royce? Please, put some originality into these reviews…

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’d have fun with a preowned GLA AMG, especially if I could find one with limited slip front diff.It’d be like a German Omni -GLHS

  • avatar
    9Exponent

    Now I have to drive one of these, just to see how bad a ~$40k car can be.

  • avatar
    ernest

    Drive an Infiniti Q50, and you’ll wonder what everyone else in this class was thinking.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    Some people just need to think they have a luxury car. If the CLA were in the class with the Mazda3, Civic, Golf, Focus, etc., it would regularly loose comparison tests to cars that cost more than $10K less.

  • avatar

    The seating position in the CLA reminded me of an older economy car., in that the wheel is in your lap and the seats/pedals are a bit too close. You don’t get that in the C class.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    It’s Accord for people with people with too much money to burn, or think of it as the MB 280 Kompressor hatchback that’s come back to haunt Mercedes. If I were in the market for a $35K Mercedes, I’d be questioning the M-B salesman about how far that money could go on a CPO Mercedes, a genuine, rear-drive Mercedes-Benz. Just the A/C vents are a tipoff to how cheap this CLA is – they resemble the vents on a hand-drying machine in a airport restroom, and I don’t need that image in a automobile.

  • avatar
    Jagboi

    Every one I have seen is a Car2Go. I don’t think luxury when I see one, I think rental by the minute.

  • avatar
    MyerShift

    Thank you for the TRUTH on this terrible, overpriced, pathetic-excuse-for-a-Mercedes economy car.
    I drive a Corolla (’16) and I look down on this.
    I am a previous Golf owner (’08 Mk V) and that was a very solid, refined, excellent little German road car.
    Unfortunately, from my experiences, reliability of nationalities of cars and their makers are: German<American<Japanese.
    I've had: Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth, Chevrolet, Buick, Volkswagen, Honda, and Toyota. I know that there are those who would argue, but let me tell you something: those old 80s Chrysler K cars are surprisingly simple easy and cheap to fix and durable overall when properly maintained. I still have a 1988 Dodge Aries LE America package (my Great Grandmother's car bought brand new), but unfortunately after almost 30 years it does now need a fuel pump and the car is suffering from classic car cancer up here in the north from salted roads, so it is probably going to be junked as I cannot afford to fix it.
    So we know that between depreciation and the terrible complexities of German cars, this little can would only be acknowledged by people that only see the star…

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  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States