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30 Days of the Mercedes CLA: Road Test Revisited

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Our October is booked, as far as drive time is concerned: This month, we're putting ourselves into the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 just as it goes on sale, spending 30 days with it to bring you more details, driving impressions, and information on the new compact four-door.

We've just updated our road test, for a few reasons. We regularly revisit our reviews, to add new information as it comes our way. On this refresh, the EPA's fuel-economy numbers are now in. Before it went into shutdown mode, the agency gave the front-drive CLA 250 numbers of 26 miles per gallon city, 38 miles per gallon highway, and 30 miles per gallon on the combined cycle.

MORE: Read our 2014 Mercedes CLA review

In our initial review, we'd been expecting at least 30 mpg highway, if not 35 mpg. Not only did it beat those--on our first long-distance drive of our CLA 250 from the northeast to the deep south, the CLA turned in gas mileage well in excess of 37 mpg. It's testimony to the fact that German automakers typically calibrate their cars to normal driving cycles, and submit those test figures to the EPA. It also suggests to us there won't be any "oops" moments with gas mileage for Mercedes with this critical new product, as has been the case with some greener-car launches at some mass-market brands.

On second pass by the copy store, we've also added some more information to the performance section. Since our initial drives of the CLA 250 in France this past February, Mercedes has decided to add a three-mode switch to the base CLA. The switch changes transmission behavior, cycling it from the Eco mode it runs on by default (its stop/start can also be turned off by another switch), into Sport and Manual shift modes.

So far, in our driving off interstates, we've put the CLA into manual mode and let the paddles do our bidding, instead of waiting for the seven-speed dual-clutch to optimize downshifts for economy. The quicker responses to calls for shifts haven't dented fuel economy much as we work on a second tank of premium, but we'll spend more time digging into each of the modes as our month progresses.

On a positive note, the CLA's firm ride on European roads hasn't been as much of an issue as we expected, even on Atlanta's iffiest streets. We're noticing more drivetrain and tire noise at lower speeds, too, but so far, the CLA's at relative peace at an 80-mph clip.

Next week, we'll spend some time going in-depth with our 2014 CLA's powertrain and connectivity features--and take the CLA for a mountain run for some glamour shots.

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