Pros: Improved styling, sporty drive, slick infotainment
Cons: Less practical than A-Class saloon, expensive options list
The CLA is one of Ireland's favourite Mercedes-Benz models, even though the lines have blurred between in at and the Mercedes A-Class in recent times. Substantially-overhauled for 2020, the new CLA pairs swooping coupe styling with an updated interior and economical engines, and it shares similarities with the Mercedes-Benz CLS, which is a great thing. The new CLA competes with well-dressed rivals such as the Audi A3 Saloon, the forthcoming BMW 2 Series Coupe and sibling rivalry in the Mercedes’ A-Class saloon. We recently spent a week with the new CLA on Irish roads to see how it has changed.
The CLA offers a sloping roofline and sleek styling in similar fashion to the Mercedes-Benz CLS, but in a compact package
Although the CLA shares lots in common with the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon, it’s undoubtedly the more stylish option. It’s longer and wider than the last CLA which lends it more road presence and appeal. The CLA is undoubtedly sleeker than before with a swooping coupe roof line, frameless windows and a low-slung front grille and LED headlights. Glance quickly you could mistake it for the larger Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupe. Our test car is a sporty AMG Line model with 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, body styling and various other exterior upgrades, which enhances its appeal. This mountain grey metallic paint scheme only adds to the occasion.
Our AMG Line test car benefits from sporty styling upgrades throughout
The CLA has taken notable leaps forward inside with the introduction of an optional vibrant twin-screen infotainment system, a sweeping dashboard and more high quality materials throughout. Mercedes ‘MBUX infotainment system is easy to use and vastly improved on the old system, with vibrant screen graphics, steering wheel controls,a touch pad controller on the centre console or voice control. Everything is well-constructed throughout with soft touch materials across the dashboard and optional wood-effect inlays on the door trim.
The CLA is more engaging to drive than before thanks to tweaks to the platform
There’s more room for passengers than before with extra head room for front and rear seat passengers, along with more leg room for those in the rear seats. The CLA can accommodate four passengers comfortably, although it’s a squeeze with five. Boot space has shrunken slightly to 460 litres in the new model although the boot lid is light and the space is very usable thanks to the wide opening area. There are various other storage pockets throughout the cabin, including two coffee cup holders and reasonably-sized door bins.
The CLA offers a wide range of petrol and diesel engines
The CLA is available with a wide choice of engines, starting with the 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol CLA 180 and CLA 200 models. We drove the CLA 200 with a seven-speed automatic DCT transmission, and the small 1.3-litre petrol engine produces 163 horsepower and 250Nm of torque, which is good enough to sprint from 0-100km/h in 8.2 seconds. It’s very capable around town and also at higher motorway speeds, although the engine loses refinement under hard acceleration. In terms of running costs, annual motor tax is €270 for the CLA 200, while fuel economy is rated at 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres. Buyers can also opt for a frugal 180d diesel model, which offers superior running costs.
The CLA is arguably the most stylish offering in its class
Prices and features:
Prices for the new Mercedes CLA start from circa €34,000 for the entry 180 petrol, while our high specification AMG Line test car with all of its bells and whistles is priced at €49,303. The higher specification AMG Line model is equipped with all sorts of niceties including a diamond radiator grille with chrome pins, AMG body styling, 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, half leather upholstery, heated front sports seats, a reversing camera and lots more, while our test car has optional metallic paint, smartphone integration and various other AMG Line options.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The new Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupe is nuch improved over its predecessor, with extra space inside, sleeker styling and lots of new driver assistance and infotainment tech. It’s also better to drive, with improved cornering capabilities and a strong range of frugal petrol and diesel engines. That said, the new Mercedes A-Class Saloon is ultimately more practical for family buyers, and it has a lower entry price point. Those seeking style over space will ultimately be drawn to the new CLA however, and it's definitely one to shortlist.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 AMG Line
Prices from: €39,420
Price as tested: €49,303
Annual Motor Tax: €270
Engine: 1332cc petrol
0-100km/h: 8.2 seconds
Body style: Coupe
Boot Space: 460 litres
Audi A3 Saloon
BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe
Mercedes A-Class Saloon