The new Mercedes-Benz CLA!
The new Mercedes-Benz CLA!

Caroline drives the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA!

The new Mercedes-Benz CLA is yet another addition to Mercedes-Benz recently updated line of compact cars. A spin-off of the new A-Class, the CLA is a stylish and prestigious four door coupé priced from €34,110 in Ireland.

The new CLA drips with style and kerb appeal. While Mercedes has also recently launched a new A-Class saloon, the CLA is an altogether more elegant looking car. To accommodate the new A-Class saloon, the CLA has moved up a gear to occupy a more salubrious position.

Despite relatively compact dimensions, it has presence and yeah, it looks expensive! The designers have done a wonderful job with the proportions and features like the frameless doors give it exclusivity.

The interior of the new CLA
The interior of the new CLA

The fantastic interior of the new CLA

Inside the CLA carries the latest Benz interior, which is a very good thing. According to Mercedes-Benz, all elements are arranged according to the themes of ‘high tech’ and ‘youthful avant-garde’. Sounds good to me. It follows the dashboard theme of the A-Class but with some more stylish mods. There is a sportier and even more sophisticated vibe.

My AMG Line test car had a dual tone colour scheme of black and beige with sporty seats all round. There is excellent technology at your fingertips with the MBUX infotainment system and the widescreen display is completely free-standing. crystal-clear digital screens. It all works together very well. Mercedes is totally winning at compact premium car interiors right now.

The new CLA is available in three trim lines: Style, Progressive and AMG Line. Standard equipment includes active lane keeping assist, cruise control, heated front seats, keyless go, leather multifuction steering wheel, MBUX multimedia system, 7” screen, reversing camera, auto lights and wipers, climate control and 16” alloys. My AMG Line test car had aluminium pedals, sports seats, leather, 18” alloys, and AMG bodystyling for the ultimate sporty look.

The new platform beneath the CLA has stretched out more space making it a better buy and interior space is okay for four adults. The boot is 460 litres and practical enough for this type of car. A slightly more practical CLA ‘shooting brake’ is available from €35,930.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA sits on a new platform and is bigger inside
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA sits on a new platform and is bigger inside

The new CLA is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines. The bestselling model in Ireland is expected to be a CLA180 petrol version priced from €34,110 and a CLA180d automatic version priced from €37,300.

Driving the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA

My test car was a CLA180 with a 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine putting out 136hp. This engine is also available with 163hp (CLA200) and other derivatives include CLA 220, 250, 200d, and 220d. For a small capacity engine it is very impressive and is more than capable of the job in the CLA. It doesn’t get too noisy and it works well with the 7-speed automatic gearbox. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.2 l/100km.

A wider track and a lower centre of gravity are the two key features that give the CLA the sportiest driving characteristics of all models in the new generation of compacts from Mercedes-Benz. The technical specification includes a decoupled multi-link axle at the rear for reduced noise and vibration, a Direct-Steer system as standard and hydromounts at the front. A stabiliser bar with a larger diameter reduces body roll. An active adaptive damping system is available, giving the driver the choice between comfort or a more uncompromising sporty tuning. The ESP® has been specially adapted to the CLA’s potentially high cornering speeds and handling performance.

On the road the CLA is agile and sporty to drive. The A-Class pedigree is good anyway but the modifications make it even more enjoyable, though the ride can be a bit more harsh over rough surfaces.

Would you buy it?

The Mercedes-Benz CLA is a highly desirable car with drop dead gorgeous looks, high quality cabin and fun driving character. You do pay a premium for the sexy coupe design and prestige of this model and it’s not really any bigger or more practical than an A-Class. But it is oh so seductive and fun to drive. Easy to recommend if you are looking for something a little bit special in this price range.

The CLA is available from €34,110
The CLA is available from €34,110

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz CLA180 Coupe
Price:
€40,527 (Range from €34,110)
Engine: 1.3-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
136 hp
Torque: 200 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9 seconds
Top speed: 216 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP):
5.4-5.7 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
123 g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year