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Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Review

Find out more about the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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6
Out of 10
Model review

Mercedes-Benz introduced the CLA in 2013 as an entry-level saloon car. It was first shown at the 2012 Avant/Garde Diaries event in Los Angeles, in the form of the Concept Style Coupé. The production version was later unveiled at the 2013 North American International Auto Show.

The CLA is based on the third generation Mercedes A-Class, sharing engine and drivetrain technologies, as well as a similar pricing level. The key difference between the two cars is the body, with the CLA serving as a compact saloon car as opposed to a hatchback. The problem with this is the CLA costs more but is less practical, which makes it seem a bit pointless.

The CLA is intended to be affordable in comparison to other Mercedes models, such as the C-Class. In many non-European markets, such as the USA, the CLA is the cheapest new Mercedes-Benz model available.

Latest model

So far, there has only been one generation of CLA, which received a facelift in 2017. This means a second generation CLA or a replacement model could be due in a few years’ time.

 Depending on your choice of engine, the CLA has a fuel economy figure of between about 40mpg and 70mpg, while all powertrains produce more than 100g/km2 of CO2. The 0-60mph time varies from 4.1 to 9.6 seconds, depending on specification.

The CLA has a variety of trim levels, mainly hinging on performance, with the more powerful AMG versions naturally costing more than standard specification cars.

The CLA is quite a unique car with regards to what it is and its consumer targets. The Audi A3 Saloon is the closest rival to it in this respect. The BMW 2 Series is another possible competitor.

 

Value for money

One of the key reasons Mercedes created the CLA was to appeal to young people. The model is supposed to be an entry-level access point to a premium brand. This means it doesn’t command the same high price as other cars with the same badge.

Starting at £26,190 is the CLA 180 Sport, which has a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a manual gearbox. The same model with an automatic will set you back £27,790. Which specification is best value for money depends on what you want out of the car.

Those looking for a well-equipped, economical motorway cruiser may wish to opt for the CLA 200 d AMG Line with a 2.0-litre diesel engine and an automatic gearbox, costing £32,120. Customers who are after a more high performance package should purchase the CLA 45 AMG 4MATIC with its 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol engine for £44,695.

On the used car market, a CLA 180 with about 20,000 miles on the clock costs around £18,000, while a 200 d that has covered about 35,000 miles will set you back about £20,000. Meanwhile, a 35,000-mile AMG model will be priced at around £30,000.

 

Looks and image

The Mercedes-Benz badge is certainly a premium one and undoubtedly has connotations of quality. The marque is known for making reliable cars that are often quite expensive.

Therein lies the potential appeal of this car. Although it has a big badge, it doesn’t have the big price tag to match. That may either mean the owner is seen as wealthier than they actually are or as someone who cares more about a badge than value for money.

In terms of actual appearance, the CLA follows the sleek, refined style of all Mercedes cars. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a better looking equivalent from another brand.

Space and practicality

Practicality is perhaps the area where the CLA lets itself down a bit. Although it’s perfectly economical and suitable for younger customers, it’s not ideal for those with large families.

Although the CLA is a four-door car and has space in the back for three people, rear legroom and headroom aren’t as plentiful as they are in larger saloon cars. It’s fine for children, but if you regularly have adult passengers in the back, you might want to look elsewhere.

However, while a traditional family shouldn’t have too much quarrel with the back seats, the boot may pose a problem. A saloon isn’t overly practical in the first place, as you can’t transport multiple large suitcases or dogs. On top of this, the CLA’s boot is smaller than on most saloon cars.

The CLA does do well on safety though. The car has a five star Euro NCAP rating, with scores of 91 per cent for adult occupants, 75 per cent for child occupants, 74 per cent for pedestrians and 81 per cent for safety assist.

 

Engines

Mercedes offers the CLA with a good choice of both petrol and diesel engines. The entry level 180 has a 1.6-litre petrol engine, which achieves around 51mpg produces 120bhp, allowing for 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds and a top speed of 130mph.

The 2.1-litre diesel engine in the 200 d is capable of 64mpg and has 134bhp, with a 0-60mph time of 9.6 seconds and a top speed of 137mph. Meanwhile, the diesel engine in the 220 d achieves 67mpg and puts out 167bhp, with a 0-60mph time of 7.9-seconds and a 143mph top speed.

The 250 AMG model is capable of 42mpg, with a power output of 214bhp, 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. The more potent CLA 45 AMG has 375bhp, achieves 0-60mph in 4.1 seconds and also reaches 155mph, while fuel economy drops to 40mpg.

 

Running costs

The CLA is very strong on fuel economy. As one would expect, the diesel engines are the best on this front, producing upwards of 60mpg. The 1.6-litre petrol also does well at 51mpg. However, the biggest surprise is the CLA 45 AMG, which Mercedes claims is capable of 40mpg, although the real world figure is likely to be a bit lower than that.

Obviously, a wide range of engines means an equally wide range of insurance groups and road tax costs. The 180 is in insurance group 23 and costs £115 per year to tax, while the diesel models are grouped around 22 to 29 and can cost anywhere between £20 and £140 per year to tax. The 45 AMG can cost between £190 and £450 to tax and is insurance group 45.

Mercedes-Benz has a fantastic reputation for reliability and the CLA is no exception. The excellent build quality means owners shouldn’t have to worry about forking out lots of cash for new parts.

Rivals

Due to its unique market placement, it’s difficult to directly compare the CLA to any other car. The most similar competitor is the Audi A3 Saloon, which is a much more sensible option for those who take a lot of passengers, as it does without the coupe styling, allowing for more room in the back.

 Audi created the A3 Saloon in the hope it would do well in the Chinese market. However, the car has also been a success in the UK. It has similar premium badge appeal to the CLA as well, even though Mercedes-Benz is seen as a classier brand.

 Another potential rival is the BMW 2 Series, but its two-door set-up means it is a slightly different kettle of fish.

 

Depreciation warning

While there’s no massive depreciation rate to worry about with the CLA, some versions do hold their value better than others. Diesel models have the biggest advantage here, usually dropping about 33 per cent of their value 30,000 miles into their lives.

Petrol models see a slightly higher decrease in value, with the 180 also losing about a third of its value, but only 20,000 miles in. Examples of the 45 AMG usually lose just over a quarter of their value after covering about 35,000 miles.

As a general rule, higher trim levels hold their value better over time, which is unsurprising when you consider that they have more equipment.

Trims Explained

The Mercedes-Benz CLA is available in seven different specifications.

Sport

The entry level Sport model has a decent amount of standard equipment, including 18-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch infotainment display screen, six speakers, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, Apple CarPlay, cruise control, Parking Pilot, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, keyless entry, sports seats and climate control.

This has a starting price of £26,190.

AMG

The AMG Line version adds LED headlights, lowered suspension, privacy glass and aluminium sports pedals.

This has a starting price of £28,390.

WhiteArt Edition

The WhiteArt Edition adds some new colour options for the wheels, dashboard seatbelts and upholstery.

This has a starting price of £29,235.

250 AMG

The 250 AMG model features sports steering, electrically folding wing mirrors, AMG sports suspension, modified ESP, 12-colour ambient lighting, automatically dimming rear view and wing mirrors, Garmin satellite navigation and heated front seats.

This has a starting price of £33,430.

250 AMG WhiteArt Edition

The 250 AMG WhiteArt Edition adds the Night package, 19-inch alloy wheels, AMG Performance seats and a variety of extra upholstery colours.

This has a starting price of £36,205.

Mercedes AMG

The Mercedes-AMG specification car comes with 18-inch alloys, AMG body styling, high performance brakes, sports transmission with race start and sailing function, sports exhaust, AMG-tuned ESP with acceleration skid control, AMG instrument cluster and aluminium shift paddles.

This has a starting price of £44,695.

Mercedes AMG Yellow Night Edition

The Mercedes-AMG Yellow Night Edition includes the AMG aerodynamics package, 19-inch alloy wheels, and yellow exterior and interior highlights.

What to look out for

  1. Variety of petrol and diesel engines
  2. Available with manual or automatic, depending on model
  3. Five star Euro NCAP rating
  4. Around 65mpg for diesel, 50mpg for petrol and 40mpg for AMG
  5. Plentiful standard safety equipment
  6. Satellite navigation available on higher spec cars
  7. Moderate sized boot
  8. Varying insurance groups: 20-46
  9. Reasonable residual values
  10. Prices start from £26,190