The Mercedes CLA is an entry-level sedan offered by the Stuttgart-based automaker. The CLA was first launched a couple of years back and it is based on the A-Class. The sedan is one of the best looking cars out there in the market and now the automaker has given it a minor update as part of a mid-life facelift The Mercedes CLA is known to be one of the most aerodynamic cars. The vehicle has sporty dynamics and while it isn’t targeted towards families or people looking for rear seat space, the CLA makes for a smart choice for the millennials.
EXTERIOR AND DESIGN
A coupe like looks with futuristically rounded tail lamps & frameless doors had always been one of the strong points for Mercedes CLA ever since its launch. The long swooping bonnet merging into the neatly flowing roof line at the rear renders an impeccable silhouette for the most stylish car on offer in the segment. The classic Mercedes emblem resting snugly on sloping bonnet along with a large three pointed star on the grille creates a nice identity statement for the brand.
One look at the side profile & you cannot miss the beautifully crafted doors with smooth flowing folds lines that define the bold character for the car.
Like the exteriors, you will find a lot of similarity with the Mercedes A Class. The retro sporty style AC vents with a large dia shouts out loud on the dashboard & is one of the most noticeable design touches on the interior. 2017 CLA also comes with a refreshed dashboard insert with a new colour & a rich texture adding a pinch of luxury premium to the interiors.
INTERIOR AND SPACE
Inside a Benz, there are some things that you can take for granted like luxury, comfort and amazing fit and finish of trims. The CLA too follows the same tradition of delivering one of the finest interiors seen in a luxury compact sedan.
It looks visually more appealing than an Audi A3 as the complex lines of the dashboard paired with the mix of use of aluminium, soft touch leather and soft touch buttons make it feel expensive. The front dashboard, like the A-Class, borrows many elements including the air con vents and instrumental styling from the higher models thus making its customer feel connected with the brand.
It comes with sporty seats for the front as well as rear passengers. Unlike the hot seats in the CLA45AMG, these seats are comparatively more comfortable. The front zone can accommodate fairly tall passengers provided they are not too keen on moving their knees around. The rear passengers are not in for any joy as the sloping rear roofline will be an obstacle always especially if the car is being driven enthusiastically. While the rear passengers do get a door handle on top to hold, the front co-passenger doesn’t get one.
The other issue being that of the front view getting completely blocked by tall front seats. It gets individual rear seats which can seat only two occupants in comfort and leaves a remote possibility of squeezing one more provided he agrees to sit in between with a folded central armrest to his back support.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
;We are test-driving the CLA 200 here and mechanically, the car is unchanged from before this refresh. Under the hood is the same 1991cc, four-cylinder turbo-petrol with a power rating of 184hp and maximum torque of 300Nm. The engine is quite responsive and generally quick off the line, with barely perceptible turbo lag. It spins quite freely and propels the car into three-digit speeds without breaking a sweat. It is mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox which complements the car’s sporty orientation rather well.
Press the accelerator sedately and the gearbox skips through the ratios rather quickly to maximise efficiency and minimise engine noise. In fact, the upshifts, under such gentle driving, are more or less seamless. Slam the gas hard, though, and you will see the speedo needle spin to the redline (in Sport mode) before the gearbox shifts up. It transforms from a sedate background worker to a frontline soldier almost immediately. It is so eager and aggressive that it will gladly downshift two ratios at a time if it senses urgency in your foot flexing. And if you’re still not satisfied, all you need to do is tug at the paddles behind the wheel to take control (or at least most of it) of gear shifts.
The engine is mostly refined, though it does become progressively more vocal with rising revs; mind you, this is not a complaint, because its snarl is rather satisfying. The different engine modes – Comfort, Sport and Eco – mainly alter the engine and gearbox response.
RIDE AND HANDLING
While the engines are powerful enough for the segment, it is the transmission that takes the cake. The 7G-DCT dual-clutch gearbox combines the comfort of a 7-speed automatic transmission with the driving dynamics of a manual, and is perfectly aligned to the power output of these engines. The gearbox consists of two sub-transmissions—one transfers the tractive power to the wheels while the other preselects the next gear, leading to quick, smooth shifts.
The ground clearance of 165 mm ensures the CLA won’t scrape most speed-breakers found on our roads. But while the ride quality is good, on bad roads the CLA turns a little nervous; however, the ride quality never goes harsh. The car behaves its best on smooth roads and cornering even at high speeds is a lot of fun. Braking is spot-on.
Being a Mercedes, there are a host of safety features. You get attention assist (which monitors the steering behaviour of the driver, recognises signs of drowsiness and warns accordingly); automatic headlamp; ABS; electronic stability; tyre pressure monitor; reverse camera; and six airbags.
The Indian introduction of the Mercedes Benz CLA has been a highly anticipated one. The good news is, the CLA doesn’t disappoint. It is good looking, well put together and premium and luxurious for its class. It’s well specced too, and honestly, it isn’t too bad a drive; the petrol for sure isn’t. So, is it worth buying? Yes, it is! And should you also consider it over all else in the same price bracket? Well, now that’s a difficult one because if it’s value you want, there are clearly better options. But, if it’s a badge you want to flaunt and feel good about, yes, the CLA is just the ticket.