2018 CLA 250 New Car Test Drive
Introduced for the 2014 model year, the compact Mercedes-Benz CLA joined the larger CLS, which had given the brand a new, rebellious variety of passenger car. Dubbed four-door coupes, the CLS and the far less costly CLA flaunt a roofline that's audaciously low and sensually curvaceous.
Little-changed for the 2018 model year, the Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is now available in an Ice Edition, while the performance-oriented AMG CLA45 gains an optional $4,000 AMG Performance Studio Package.
Undeniably, the striking, indeed, daring, profile of the original CLS served as a milestone in design. Now, in CLA form, it's a lush example of the possibilities for entry-level premium automobiles.
Rivals have adopted the four-door coupe theme, but the sleek profile of the CLA, helped by frameless window glass, has aged well. Mercedes-Benz itself has adopted the basic concept for other models.
Beneath the hood of the CLA250, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder develops 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That's sufficient to reach 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, while yielding 30-mpg fuel economy in combined driving. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission mates with standard front-drive or optional ($2,000) all-wheel drive.
Seekers of all-out performance can move up to the AMG CLA45. This version of the 2.0-liter turbo cranks out 375 horsepower and 350 pound-feet, cutting 0-60 mph acceleration time to a sizzling 4.1 seconds. In addition to altered ride height, the CLA45 benefits from modified steering and braking. Its three-link front suspension uses stiffer bearings.
Despite its significantly heftier price, standard equipment even on the CLA45 lacks several features that buyers in its category are likely to want. Plenty of options are available, but each raises the total price further yet. Both CLAs also suffer from lack of back-seat space. Largely because of the dramatically low coupe-style roofline, four adults cannot ride comfortably, facing limited head clearance.
No testing agency has crash-tested the CLA. Standard safety features include a rearview camera, adaptive braking, and driver-attention monitoring. Everything else is optional: adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, LED headlights, and parking sensors.
Also available are a panoramic sunroof and Harman Kardon audio. The adaptive suspension is a particularly desirable choice.
The 2018 CLA250 ($32,700) comes with front-wheel drive, 208-horsepower engine, power driver's seat, MB-Tex vinyl upholstery, rearview camera, 17-inch wheels, adaptive braking, drowsy-driver warning, dual-zone climate control, start/stop technology, Bluetooth connectivity, and an 8.0-inch infotainment screen. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
CLA 250 4MATIC ($34,700) includes all-wheel drive.
AMG CLA45 ($50,400) gets the 375-horsepower engine, AMG sport suspension and exhaust, LED headlights and taillights, and sport front seats with adjustable cushion length. The new $4,000 Performance Studio Package adds 19-inch black/yellow wheels, unique styling and cockpit, top-stitched dashboard trim, and Recaro front seats.