After successfully reincarnating the A-Class from a mum’s taxi into a hot hatch, Mercedes have gone further by creating a hot four-door coupé sedan. The CLA looks like it is built off the same platform as the A-Class but, in actual fact, the two are very different.
The test car had the optional Edition package, which made the vehicle look like a hot racer. This package included a full body kit, large black mag wheels and a sporty grill on the outside. Inside, the package includes sports seats with black and yellow stripes running vertically, sports steering wheel, and metal inlays. The accelerator and brake pedals are also metal which completes the vehicle’s sporty look and feel.
Upon first glance, you cannot look away … with its curvaceous rear end that resembles its bigger sibling, the CLS, this is certainly a stunner. From the front, the longish bonnet is perfectly crafted with curves that blend into the rest of the vehicle. The large oversized grill that has now become Mercedes signature with its large three-pointed star clearly makes known that this is the sport version. The sports bumper has large gaping intakes completing the front look. A side-view clearly tells you this is no extension of the A-Class: its accentuated creases are not straight nor are they in keeping with the norm. The hip crease from the bonnet tapers down and does not meet the crease from the boot. Certainly not traditional lines, but it works well. The swooping roofline continues all the way to the boot lid and a thicker C-pillar emphasises this coupé-like look. The rear end is neatly completed with sculptured tail lights. The sports bumper with its bulging sides and mesh inlays keep with the sports theme. To be honest, the CLA is incomplete without the sports kit.
When entering the vehicle you are confronted with the low roofline (especially at the back) and need to watch your head as you enter. Once in, there is ample headroom in front while the back is a bit cramped, especially if you are 1,6 metres or taller. The sports seats are snug and comfy, while elbow room may be limited due to the proportions of the vehicle. Mercedes have done away with the standard centrally mounted gearbox. Instead they have a stalk mounted gear-lever. This frees up the space between the driver and the passenger making the cockpit look more spacious and open. The rear leg room is not bad but I suggest a max of two adults in the back.
The dashboard has clean lines and circular air vents that have a metal look. The display screen for the infotainment system looks like it is an aftermarket add-on, but is well placed for easy viewing even in the harsh sunlight. The driving position is good with easy to read dials and all controls within easy reach.
On the road the CLA 200 drives well, even though it is a front-wheel drive which is not in keeping with Mercedes tradition and true Mercedes enthusiasts will feel the difference. On the road, the vehicle is comfortable and easy to drive. The all-round visibility is good and thanks to the parking aids, it’s a cinch to park. The larger mag wheels fitted on the test vehicle and sports suspension did make the ride a bit firmer but also increased the overall road holding.
This vehicle has helped recreate the Mercedes-Benz brand into a fun, sporty one and not just a reliable vehicle for older people. I think the designers have done a phenomenal job in creating a small coupé sedan that not only looks good but is practical as well. The frameless doors are a nice touch that differentiates this vehicle from almost any other normal sedan – not that it needs to! Overall, all I can say is I am impressed. If only the motor matched the looks, but I guess that why they have the CLA 45! ❐
1,6 l / Four-cylinder Turbo
Average 5,7 l /100 km
From R348 700
Author: Azim Omar CA(SA) is a member of SAGMJ.
Follow me on Twitter @azimomar