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The all new Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class continues on the success of its predecessor, with stunning coupe-like proportions and a well-appointed interior.

29 Jul 2019


Mercedes-Benz has been something of a tour de force when it comes to the compact car segment, with different variants all sharing the same footprint. Looking for a good looking and practical hatchback? Try the new A-Class. Need a little more space? There's the B-Class.

So what if you're looking for a car that's posh, sleek, and comes with a boot?

While it shares the same front as the A-Class, the CLA sports two extra power domes on its bonnet

Step into the CLA-Class

Mercedes knows a thing or two when it comes to making four-door coupes. After all, it did start the trend with the CLS.

While The CLA comes across as a mini-CLS in some areas, it shares the same front end as the A-Class. But compared to the previous generation, its sensual lines cut out a cleaner coupe-like silhouette, before tapering off neatly to the end.

Its seductive looks are certainly more striking than before. But Mercedes didn't have to cater the CLA to customers looking for a practical boot - the more sensible A-Class Sedan will fulfil those duties.

The CLA's sleek and slender profile makes it highly desirable

With it, it makes the CLA almost in a class of its own, allowing Mercedes to fully exploit the strong lines of a coupe without needing to cater to those less bold in their choice of cars.

A sensual space

Inside, the CLA shares the same high-tech stage as the A-Class. Open the driver's door and its two large 10.25-inch screens will greet you. It's a real treat, showing everything from infotainment functions to an array of different instrument displays.

The screens are powered by the latest Mercedes-Benz User Interface (MBUX) system. Saying "Hey Mercedes" triggers its personal assistant, allowing you to make changes to the air-con temperature via voice recognition, for example.

The CLA is pretty well decked out with fancy interior bits and two large 10.25-inch displays taking centre stage

A cool party trick, but the MBUX system is intuitive and fluid in operation, enough to negate the need for any voice commands. It lessens the chance of you toying around with the CLA's high-quality switchgear in the cabin, anyway.

Seating position is more than adequate for tall-sized adults up front. At the rear is where you'll realise the CLA's shortcomings in its coupe proportions, though.

While the CLA is a five-seater with a decent amount of legroom, headroom comes a little too close for comfort for three adults in the back. The A-Class hatchback fares better here.

But compared to the A-Class, the CLA sports a boot that's 90 litres bigger at 460 litres. But its narrow berth may mean odd-sized items may prove to be a struggle.

Fitting shape, fitting drive

The CLA200 we tested came with a 1.4-litre turbocharged plant that's good for 161bhp and 250Nm of torque.

The 1.4-litre turbocharged lump feels uninspired at high revs despite putting out a respectable 161bhp and 250Nm of torque

It is more than adequate, allowing the CLA to complete the century sprint in 8.2 seconds. But it does so with little inspiration, as the engine doesn't sound all too spirited when you bring the revs up.

But the CLA's suspension setup more than makes up for it. It holds itself surprisingly well through corners with minimal body roll. It is pretty precise with small steering inputs, too.

And true to being a Mercedes, it manages to stay calm and composed when you turn down the fun.

The steering weight adjusts itself according to speed, and remains to be precise through corners

The classy four-door coupe

There is no doubt that the CLA200 is a stylish and well-poised car. It may have some shortcomings, but not many can provide the exuberance of a four-door coupe in its segment.

You could say the Audi A3 Sedan is the CLA's nearest European competitor. But without a coupe body style, it is more of a fight for the A-Class Sedan when it arrives at the end of August.

The CLA is one four-door compact coupe that's in a class of its own

At $181,888 (as of 24 July 2019), the CLA isn't exactly chump change. But if style and substance tops your list when it comes to cars, there is nothing quite like the CLA-Class.
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Car Information

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Price

: $181,888

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1332cc

Horsepower

:

120kW (161 bhp) / 5500 rpm

Torque

:

250 Nm / 4000 rpm

Transmission

:

7G-DCT (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

8.2sec

Top Speed

:

229km/h

Fuel consumption

:

17.5 km/L

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