Plenty of bang

Yep, that’s what the up­dated Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 coupe prom­ises as we drove it to Tan­jung Sepat.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Review - By THOMAS HUONG huong@thes­tar.com.my

The Mercedes-Benz CLA range was up­dated late last year, and fea­tured ex­te­rior and in­te­rior en­hance­ments for sportier looks and more mo­tor­ing com­fort.

The up­dated Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 coupe gets the AMG Line ex­te­rior look, with a di­a­mond ra­di­a­tor grille and chrome pack­age, LED high per­for­mance head­lamps and 18-inch AMG multi-spoke light al­loy wheels, pow­ered front seats with mem­ory set­tings, and Pre-Safe oc­cu­pant pro­tec­tion sys­tem.

This RM236,888 en­try-level vari­ant for the CLA range gets lots of good­ies in­clud­ing LED high-per­for­mance head­lamps, sports seats up­hol­stered in mixed Ar­tico leather/ Di­nam­ica mi­crofi­bre with red con­trast stitch­ing, an Au­dio 20 CD sys­tem which pro­vides mar­vel­lous sound qual­ity, and an eight-inch Me­dia Dis­play (not a touch­screen).

It’s pow­ered by 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that de­liv­ers 156hp and 250Nm of torque, mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

There’s cer­tainly more than enough grunt and swift response when we needed to per­form quick sprints in over­tak­ing ma­noeu­vres, as we found out when cut­ting in front of slow-mov­ing lor­ries on B-roads lead­ing to Tan­jung Sepat.

It can do the 0 to 100kph sprint in 8.2 sec­onds, and the low­ered com­fort sus­pen­sion helps in pro­vid­ing nice han­dling qual­i­ties.

How­ever, ride com­fort is not its forte here, es­pe­cially on poorly-main­tained and un­even sur­faces dur­ing a day trip to Banting and Morib to sam­ple the seafood and cool beach breeze.

Com­bined with the Goodyear Ea­gle F1 run­flat tyres sized 225/40 on 18-inch wheels, the low­ered com­fort sus­pen­sion pro­vides a rather jar­ring ride qual­ity on bumpy, un­even roads where some sur­faces felt like we were run­ning on un­for­giv­ing ter­rain.

But the trade-off is that you get fun han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics, in com­bi­na­tion with low­er­ing the body by 15mm at the front and 10mm at the rear.

The 7-speed dual-clutch au­to­matic trans­mis­sion de­liv­ers power seam­lessly, and se­lect­ing dif­fer­ent driv­ing modes (Com­fort-Sport-In­di­vid­ual-Eco) is done via a Dy­namic Se­lect but­ton on the dash­board cen­tre.

This con­trols drive set­tings, air-con­di­tion­ing, steer­ing and the Eco Auto start-stop func­tion. Dur­ing our day trip to Tan­jung Sepat, there were long road stretches where traf­fic was sparse and the temp­ta­tion for more dy­namic driv­ing was hard to re­sist.

This is where the car’s Sport mode came in handy, as gear up­shifts are at higher engine speeds and down­shifts are done later than in Econ­omy mode.

There is a pleas­ing engine roar un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion in Sport mode.

How­ever, we ad­mit­tedly en­joyed driv­ing the CLA 200 coupe (AMG Line) more in Com­fort mode, where the car feels smoother and one is able to bet­ter ap­pre­ci­ate the top-ofthe-line sound qual­ity of the Au­dio 20 CD sys­tem.

We didn’t mind the car’s Eco Auto start-stop func­tion, which shuts off the engine tem­po­rar­ily at a red light or in a traf­fic jam to save petrol, as the engine start-stop en­gage­ments were not abrupt or un­pleas­ant. Other than the lack of push­start ig­ni­tion, the CLA 200 coupe (AMG Line) is well packed with com­fort equip­ment and de­cent stor­age spa­ces. These in­clude four door bins, two front seat­back lug­gage ets, two bot­tle hold­ers nd a front tor­age cubby ole, as well a a deep boot. There’s also a p cen­tre stor­age with two USB slots a leather-wrapped lid, which nicely dou­bles up as an arm rest.

How­ever, rear head­room is a tad cramped for 1.7-me­tre adults and rear legroom is ad­e­quate.

Like other Mercedes-Benz cars nowa­days, you won’t find a cen­tre-mounted gear stick or hand and foot brakes here.

In­stead, you use a gear stalk on the right of the steer­ing col­umn to switch be­tween P,N, R and D modes.

Sporty drivers can also opt to use the pad­dle shifters for gear shifts.

Con­trol of the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem - nav­i­ga­tion, ra­dio and ve­hi­cle set­tings - is via a ro­tary com­mand dial be­tween the front seats.

High­lights here in­clude two 12V sock­ets (one each for front and rear oc­cu­pants) and Park­ing Pilot which can au­to­mat­i­cally steer the car into park­ing spa­ces and makes it a lot eas­ier to park in, and pull out of, par­al­lel and per­pen­dic­u­lar spa­ces.

There’s also At­ten­tion As­sist, which can de­tect cer­tain steer­ing pat­terns that fre­quently ac­com­pany drowsi­ness, and sub­se­quently warn the driver via vis­ual and au­di­ble warn­ings.

To sum it up, the four-door CLA 200 coupe (AMG Line) looks stylishly ath­letic, es­pe­cially with the frame­less door glass, and comes with a punchy and smooth-revving pow­er­train, as well as a barn­ful of safety and com­fort kit, and am­ple stor­age space.

How­ever, the low­ered com­fort sus­pen­sion is more than a tad too firm for our lik­ing, which meant we drove it rather gin­gerly on un­even roads.

All in all, this base model CLA of­fers plenty of premium stuff for the money.

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