The Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is the German marque’s entry-level sedan, displacing the C-Class which moves upscale in its next redesign. The CLA-Class made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show this year and rolls out into dealerships later in September.
Popular Mechanics attended the press drive event earlier this year. Overall, its reviewers found that the 2014 Mercedes CLA-Class drives like, well, a Mercedes. That means they found the ride firm but comfortable, and the car had plenty of control during high speed and in cornering. They also mentioned, however, the CLA-Class moved like the front-wheel drive (FWD) sedan that it is, which resulted in some understeer when pushed to the limits. The issue won’t bother most potential owners, who’ll rarely — if ever — drive their CLA-Class this way.
They did find the Mercedes-Benz CLA reluctant to provide the need for speed. The CLA’s powertrain is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission configured to maximize fuel economy. Drivers who want more zip will have to switch to the Sport mode or use the provided paddle shifters. At the time of this post, Mercedes has not yet released fuel-economy figures for the CLA, nor has it come out with zero to 60 mph numbers. Test drivers also drove the 4MATIC all-wheel version of the CLA-Class and discovered it — not surprisingly — better at maneuvering tight corners than its FWD sibling.
Inside, reviewers found the familiar luxurious Mercedes interior: leather seats, soft plastics, and lots of controls artfully organized for ease of use and aesthetics. They did warn taller passengers planning to sit in the back to reconsider. While the CLA-Class is slightly longer than the current C-Class, the wheelbase (or the distance between the two axels) is shorter. This means interior space is slightly smaller. Combined with the swoopy roofline, the headroom in the back row suffers, even for folks of average height. Children and adults of smaller stature should be just fine, though.
The CLA-Class, as mentioned above, goes on sale around September of this year. Pricing is expected to start around $30,000 which doesn’t include destination and delivery. The CLA-Class with FWD arrives first; the AWD version is expected sometime next May.
Written by Joel Arellano.