Mercedes CLA a bundle of joy
Latest addition to the Benz family will have competitors crying in the corner
WASHINGTON — Welcoming a new member to the family is a joyous thing. With an additional sibling comes new excitement, challenges and rivalries, but no matter how you slice it, it’s something to be celebrated.
For the 2014 model year, German automaker Mercedes-Benz introduces its bundle of joy in the form of the CLA. The all-new model is built on the same architecture as the new B-Class but has its own distinctive style. Embodying the coupe/sedan-look (think CLS), the four-door has the convenience of easy ingress and egress, but with that extra bit of flair.
Just by looking at it, the CLA’s body has contours of mass seduction. Frameless doors, a black diamond grille with the central star at the tip of its long hood, a prominent front bumper, twin chrome rectangular exhaust tailpipes and LED tail lights are just a few of its swanky-looking characteristics.
Slip inside the cabin and Artico leather covers the seats. A seven-inch free-standing integrated display resides atop the centre stack. Surrounded by circular “jet engine” air vents, an instrument cluster with 4.5-inch colour display and a Direct Select gear lever, it’s not a bad place to be sitting. And that’s just the base CLA 250 model.
Add three letters and two numbers to the CLA — in the form of AMG 45 — and its exoskeleton is enhanced with “Turbo AMG” badges on fenders, 18inch AMG wheels and an AMG sports exhaust system with two chrome-plated tailpipes.
Other four-cylinder turbos, such as the Subaru WRX STI and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, can likely be found crying in a corner now that the CLA AMG is around. Touted as the world’s most powerful four-cylinder engine in production, the CLA AMG 45 will certainly be knocking some socks off and breaking hearts along the open road.
Its sultry curves and well-endowed equipment can have you smiling faster than its zero-to-100-km/h time of 4.6 seconds. With 355 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque being generated from its hand-built 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, it’s nothing short of impressive. Complemented by Mercedes’ seven-speed DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) with shift paddles, the 4Matic all-wheel-drive sedan is ready for its close-up.
The streets of Virginia are heavily speed-regulated, but still offered a palate-whetting taste of what this sedan can do. It’s easy to feel at home nestled in the sport seats of the AMG 45. With the three-spoke nappa leather flat-bottom sport steering wheel with red stitching and shift paddles in my hands, and the drive mode in “M” for manual, it’s go time.
When changing gears at a higher r.p.m., the AMG’s aggressive exhaust note lets you know it means business. The pow-pow-pow sound and rhythm of upshifting leaves those inside giggling. Roll the power windows down if you want the full effect of its mellifluous awesomeness.
But even the CLA 250 has its fair share of notable features. It also has the seven-speed DCT but it is married to a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, which puts out a lesser 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Still, it’s not something to scoff at.
ADDITIONALLY, its less-abrasive sport suspension worked better for me as a passenger. Don’t get me wrong, the AMG 45 has a bite to it that should be recognized, but the 250 felt better for everyday driving. That said, it still has the capability to corner with confidence thanks to the aforementioned lowered sport suspension.
Using electromechanical power steering (EPS), moving about is effortless and the CLA’s turning radius is impressive, especially if you need to rotate quickly to get into a parking spot.
The CLA 250 does the job well. Its starting MSRP of $33,900 has an attractiveness to it and could very well entice those looking for a premium sedan with coupe-like attributes.
The front-wheel-drive sedan will continue to impress with its fuel-economy stats. In the city, estimated consumption is rated at 7.8 L/100 km, and just 5.1 L/100 km on the highway, for a combined 6.6 L/100 km. The eco start/ stop and enhanced aerodynamics play into its fuel economy performance.
When driving, the 250 feels lighter, which is immediately noticed during acceleration. True, it doesn’t have as many ponies under the hood, but power isn’t everything. Still, there’s a certain refined rawness to the AMG 45, and with a starting MSRP of $49,800, it had my heart beating a little faster.