On the road: 2014 Mercedes CLA250Is a $30,000 Mercedes really a Mercedes, with all its reputation for quality and status? CNET's Brian Cooley takes the new $29,900 Mercedes CLA for a drive to find out.
Now the big story -- luxury cars these days -- small take a look at BMWs to. Refreshed IS from Lexus this CLA from Mercedes. And the nice thing about working the other into the market feature also working -- -- younger part of the market. And they will be arrest last buyers of tomorrow. And this car is part of what helped push Mercedes back to that Tom -- we closed -- will be thirteen. And they'd like to -- The overall lines are not so much derived from the C class it's one notch up brother but interestingly borrowed from the way upscale CN -- You see this kind of -- over arc across the top that's real CLS kind of stuff. On the other hand they're very proud of this space they say this came right off the concept car on the auto show circuit I gotta say it does look pretty hot. And it was what we saw in concept form. And it -- back you've got these sort of aggressive -- -- Holders in the rear bumper it all speaks to a younger -- and most bands car. Now the front of cabin on this -- is what extra points to get a good quality Mercedes -- -- I think it's about the most modern looking -- -- -- -- which is good at this -- aimed -- younger audience that doesn't want a lot of baroque. I don't think and most importantly it's got the family steering wheels is a big part of the identity of -- car. Ditto for the head unit and this sort of pop tarts toaster look at display which is all in vogue right now. As you see you've got the knob which has bush ticket click and you've got back and clear buttons on a simple streamlined and of course the German cars have a touch the screen doesn't doing. This is Mercedes current command system that navigation is hard drive based eighty gigabytes of hard drive data on there but they've also got ten gigabytes -- aside for media for you to put your collection on which are never gonna build. On this car we have serious satellite radio which also brings in traffic and weather but that's optional by the way. As you can see the audio display is good rich good use of meta tags they do get truncated though and you do have album -- -- there let's take a look at some of the sources are am and FM with HD radio satellite radio residents it is optional. Disk or six disc CD dvd that's an optional pick SD card no thank you there's that ten gigabyte storage USB. And it here I've got a media interface for an iPod which I had to use an adapter for because I've got -- or iPod Touch. Bluetooth calling him Bluetooth streaming by the we are standard on this car which is a nice touch some cars -- make you pay extra for the streaming part. And that way over here over the globe to get the acoustic and activity things Mercedes apps streaming radio apps there's your serious whether you can also under the web site URL you want to look at although not when you're driving and boy is this whole system dog slow. This needs to be sped up -- I don't know what firmware changes -- activity optimization. This is -- I'm also out of -- how Internet radio lives over here separate from audio it's all audio guys put it all together that navigation system right there is optional interestingly so -- rear view camera I find that kind of machines in a car that costs thirty -- their money it costs -- they give it to your birth rate. By the way if you've got an iPhone consider these 600 dollar iPhone drive -- dealer installed. And does a different interface than you've seen here for social media streaming radio and Siri voice. -- like -- the drive control technology in this vehicle it doesn't have an adaptive suspension so there's no elaborate control for that. Here's your shifter installed base which is kind of funny -- for a car that in so young -- a lot of folks gonna wish they had a lever down here but look how much console space to give up to this is Smart if not. And of course you got paddles ago -- on the -- down here is the eco mode this defaults on if you select it all off it if it's the auto start stop technology. Which I'm okay with because even on this car -- -- gonna see it's a little crunchy. And then down here -- -- last drive mode control sport manual efficiency. The efficiency is the nearest thing to a normal mode the sport is obviously sport in the manual lets you hold your -- without the card coming back to its own logic. Now -- -- like rearview camera aren't knowingly optional some other things are not that are kind of nice the attention assisted. Figures that if you're drowsy and alerts you that standard on this car. As -- forward collision warning and pre breaking technology it does not have automatic -- -- to stop a collision. -- optional or standard level. -- they'll actually in the -- the optional but rather impressive panoramic roof but I'm pretty small -- of glass panels -- enormous by today's standards but its way they're gonna. Classic move for sun -- And it opens up a small. -- haven't nicely which is good because it here in the backseat hate the person in the front -- that there at least that'll help here they found. That's the CLE 250 which tells you almost nothing about it and out of two and a half -- -- -- two liter inline Turbo four with direct injection in other words it plays all the hits of modern motor design. But he gets real Mercedes in a couple of ways first of all it's sitting side saddle. It drives the front -- their first front wheel drive car sold -- American market. Also gonna be available as an all wheel drive area but this is how its parts. Here -- the numbers you've got -- -- eight horsepower 258 foot pounds of torque at the twin scroll Turbo through port. 3200 pounds or so gets up to sixty in about six point nine seconds answer respectable. MPG numbers -- 2638. You're getting -- -- Japanese -- -- -- was that. And the transmissions that respect one -- only. Seven speed dual clutch automated -- when they developed in conjunction with this car's supposed to play out -- it. We'll find out -- it was worth their effort. I've told you before I get to our view cart I don't look at this Backstreet in the wrong I don't really know what the power train is when I go to this one. I thought it was a diesel. Without automatic. Here's why I thought it was a diesel because there's kind of -- course engine and there's that sort of Turbo lag that Turbo diesels of course are known for. But then -- of -- after that. I thought it was an automatic. Because the gearbox was so civilized and -- and it couldn't be anything else. And that -- instead of god and it's gas engine look -- -- RPM is -- headlines. So the fact it felt like a diesel about it compliment that's a good guess and took them back at this dual clutch transmission felt like a regular automatic. Is -- high brightness. -- -- down here when -- economy -- cars too lazy. It's buried under seven here all the time -- the throttle response is like -- you go to sports helmets granting him -- -- Coke addict just like I am. And finally the ride quality just isn't Mercedes which may or may not be a good thing depending on your tastes you either hate how harsh it isn't. More like the fact that it doesn't feel isolated from the road. I think it's a little too much the former. Beyond that though all the other driving inputs are very pleasant experience well rated -- invariably a -- showed. -- when you do get around and shipping yourself aren't great on the card -- and that's sweet spot -- -- -- night. Okay let's price -- CLA now you know the headline on this car. Under thirty grant will not by the time you -- destination -- pushing 31 that's fair enough. But here's where things really leave the lives of 33 options you need to go CNET. Start web -- panoramic roof for 15100 to premium package for 2300 if you automatic -- control heated seats. That Harman car audio iPod -- -- -- things like that. Multimedia package 2300 more which includes rear camera and some other niceties. That iPhone drive hit 600 bucks at the dealer. Driver assist brings you adaptive crews at the passive -- bottling technology another 2500. If you want semi automatic parking nearly a grand for that. And if you wanna activate all the to have you on the dash and happy -- -- app on your -- you can look at the car unlock the -- things like that. That's about 450 years monthly -- didn't even go as far spending forty bucks to get AMG door lock acts like. All live CNET -- this -- north of 41000. Dollars but still a very inexpensive Mercedes. I would wait a model year or heavy regrets that -- the ride quality needs one more pass on it may be some of those drives profiles something in between. He has support please. But there's no mistaking this is the Mercedes and that's a big part.