Say what you’ll about the Mercedes-Benz CLA, the compact “four-door coupe” has been a roaring success, with greater than 750,000 bought worldwide since its introduction in 2013. Almost 150,000 had been bought in the US alone, with gross sales certainly helped by the CLA’s low worth: it was initially marketed beginning underneath $30,000. It was by no means as fashionable because it got down to be, although, and as an alternative of being a Mercedes that occurred to be low-cost, it was extra like an affordable automobile that occurred to have a Mercedes badge. Now, with the brand new A-class sedan taking the bottom rung on the Benz totem pole, the model is repositioning the CLA to be a sportier, extra fashionable, and extra upscale compact providing—what it ought to have been from the start.
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The second-generation CLA, which debuted immediately at CES in Las Vegas, instantly makes a significantly better impression than the outgoing technology did. Now not is it stumpy, dumpy, and peculiar; it has a mini-CLS look, albeit with front-wheel-drive proportions and extra aggressive and angular design particulars. The smoother physique helps the CLA to look costlier than it truly is, and the aerodynamics have been improved. The CLA is on the identical all-new platform that underpins the A-class, and Mercedes says suspension and steering enhancements make it the best-driving of all Benz’s new compact fashions. It has grown 1.9 inches longer and a couple of.Zero inches wider, rides on a 1.1-inch-longer wheelbase, and is barely decrease to the bottom than earlier than, making it even bigger than the A-class sedan.
To again up the CLA’s sportier seems to be and additional set it aside from the lowly A-class, the brand new mannequin will solely be provided in CLA250 kind, with a brand new turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four making 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. That is 33 horses and 37 lb-ft greater than the A220 makes (and a 13-hp bump over the present CLA250). Entrance-wheel drive is normal with 4Matic all-wheel drive as an possibility, and a seven-speed dual-clutch automated is the one transmission selection. Mercedes provides no efficiency estimates for the brand new CLA, but it surely ought to higher the 6.1-second zero-to-60-mph time we achieved in an A220 4Matic by a tenth or two. Efficiency lovers that we’re at C/D, we won’t await the AMG fashions—each a 300-hp CLA35 (previewed by the brand new A35) and a 400-plus-hp CLA45 are on the close to horizon.
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If the introduction of the brand new CLA at a expertise present as an alternative of a conventional auto present comes as a shock, it should not. Mercedes is making an enormous deal that the CLA’s MBUX infotainment system, which debuted within the A-class in early 2018, has already been improved. The voice-control system, which the consumer prompts by saying “Hey, Mercedes,” is now capable of reply complicated questions like “What child-friendly Asian eating places are close by which might be neither Chinese language nor Japanese?” The system additionally will not get confused by speaking passengers; it is going to solely acknowledge and reply to the final one that says “Hey, Mercedes.”
The remainder of the inside is almost similar to the A-class, with a cool dashboard design, two normal 7.0-inch screens (10.3-inch models are non-compulsory), and a extra playful use of supplies than in different Benz fashions. Different new tech options embrace gesture-activated inside dome lights, a collection of active-safety and semi-autonomous techniques, adaptive LED headlights, and a surround-view digital camera. In comparison with the outgoing CLA, headroom is up barely for each entrance and rear passengers, and there is a good quantity extra elbow and shoulder room.
We had been impressed by the refinement, chassis, powertrain, and tech discovered within the new A-class, and the second-gen CLA seems to be to enhance additional on the entire A’s robust factors. For many who desire a fashion-forward compact four-door, the brand new CLA lastly appears to have hit the mark.