The first thing people notice about the CLA-Class is its unique styling. Mercedes-Benz classifies the car as a 4-door coupe, much like its older sibling, the CLS-Class. The comparison is apt, as the CLA-Class borrows much of its design language from its bigger brother. However the base price of a CLA-Class is less than half that of a CLS-Class, making the CLA-Class quite a bargain from a styling standpoint.
The CLA-Class utilizes a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine making 208 horsepower and a very healthy 258 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, with Mercedes-Benz's 4Matic all-wheel-drive system as an option. The only transmission choice is a 7-speed dual-clutch unit, providing the efficiency of a manual with the functionality of an automatic. Performance is sprightly with good acceleration, while fuel economy is also respectable thanks to one of the most aerodynamic bodies ever sold in the U.S.
The CLA-Class is available in only one trim level -- the CLA250. Standard equipment includes 14-way power adjustable front seats, an 8-speaker CD/MP3/Radio sound system, rear seat armrest with cup holders, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain sensing wipers, heated mirrors, a 5.8-inch color screen, Bluetooth and an integrated garage door opener.
Options are plentiful on the CLA250 and include items like a panoramic sunroof, HID headlights, a navigation system, heated front seats, PARKTRONIC parking assist, a rearview camera, and a blind spot assist system. Equipment packages include a sports package with unique exterior details and upgraded brakes, an interior package with leather seating surfaces, a premium package with keyless entry and an uprated stereo, and a multimedia package featuring a larger screen and a 6-disc CD changer.
The high-performance CLA45 AMG features a hand-built turbocharged 2.0L inline-4 that produces a stout 355 horsepower -- enough to propel the car from 0-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds. The CLA45 is clad in unique exterior body styling, and inside there's Recaro performance front seats among other AMC-specific amenities.
With the CLA-Class being a bit smaller than typical Mercedes-Benz models, safety was a point of emphasis for the company. Optional safety equipment includes Distronic Plus, a radar-based cruise control system that can automatically apply the brakes if it senses a collision, as well as lane-keeping assist and blind spot assist. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes and traction control as well as stability control and several airbags for both the front and the sides of the car.
The whole point of an entry-level luxury car is to introduce buyers to the brand, offering a compelling blend of everything on offer in a smaller, more financially palatable package. It should make a buyer want to stick around as time goes on and salaries go up.
By that standard, the outgoing Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class was a failure. While the price was right, its coupe-like roofline made its rear seats uncomfortable for full-grown adults, and low-quality interior materials blighted its cabin's ho-hum design. It wasn't a product that made you want to stick around.
That all changes with the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class. While there's a new CLA-Class on the way, the A-Class now stands as the least expensive way to slide into a new Merc, and it rocks. Consider the bar raised for all.
The Good The 2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 is loaded with the brand's latest in-car tech, and it's fun to drive.
The Bad Fuel efficiency isn't very impressive, and the A-Class' price flies hot on the C-Class' tail when options are involved.
The Bottom Line The 2020 Mercedes-Benz A-Class is now the sub-$40,000 luxury sedan to beat.
Right now, it's only for Europe.
The E-Class still puts luxury first, but a new mild-hybrid powertrain gives it serious vim.
This mild-hybrid powertrain is anything but mild.
A more than worthy follow-up to the disappointing CLA-Class, Mercedes' newest entry-level luxury sedan is now one of our favorites in its class.
We'll also see the production version of the EQV electric van.
The program has the unfortunate name of Chark.
You can thank European noise regulations for the result.
It'll be put to use at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.