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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Class Photo
8.2
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Reviewed by Marty Padgett
Editorial Director, The Car Connection
BASE
INVOICE
$27,807
BASE
MSRP
$29,900
Quick Take
A scaled-down CLS with turbocharged performance, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA proves the car world is shrinking--even at the luxury level. Read more »
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Styling
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rakish, low-aero bodywork

Automobile

CLA shares its distinctive sagging character line with the CLS, but sharper creases make the new Mercedes less subtle and more outwardly extroverted.

Car and Driver

Those rear corner zones are not as elegantly executed as the rest of the CLA, though each piece taken on its own is quite elegant.

Autoblog

It’s based on Euro-market A-Class hatchback underpinnings, but skinned in the stylish “four-door coupe” bodywork we Yanks find infinitely more palatable, complete with frameless door glass and a swoopy C-pillar.

Motor Trend
Pricing and Specifications by Style
$29,900 $47,450
MSRP $29,900
INVOICE $27,807
Get Price Quote
4-Door Sedan FWD CLA250
Gas Mileage 26 mpg City/38 mpg Hwy
Engine Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 2.0 L
EPA Class Subcompact Cars
Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity 5
Passenger Doors 4
Body Style 4dr Car
See Detailed Specs »
8.2 out of 10
The Car Connection
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Class
8.2
/ 10
TCC Rating
MSRP from $29,900
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Shopping for a new Mercedes-Benz CLA Class?

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Choose a Style Below for Colors and Options
STYLE INVOICE MSRP
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Class 4-Door Sedan CLA250 FWD
4-Door Sedan FWD CLA250
Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 2.0 L
Front Wheel Drive
$ 27,807 $ 29,900
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Class 4-Door Sedan CLA250 4MATIC
4-Door Sedan 4MATIC CLA250
Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 2.0 L
All Wheel Drive
$ 29,667 $ 31,900
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Class 4-Door Sedan CLA45 AMG 4MATIC
4-Door Sedan 4MATIC CLA45 AMG
Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 2.0 L
All Wheel Drive
$ 44,129 $ 47,450

The Basics:

Timing isn't always everything, but for the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class sedans, it's a huge tactical advantage. Mercedes' first luxury compact four-door is its first American-market front-wheel-drive car ever--and it's priced, styled, and engineered to grab eyeballs and younger buyers all for itself, before its German competition can field a competitor. 

Until BMW and Audi are ready, the CLA lines up across the luxury field from the likes of the handsome, supple and quiet Buick Verano, and the well-meaning Acura ILX, and with the hotter CLA45 AMG version, BMW's 1-Series. The Verano and ILX have sub-$30,000 base price tags and lots of luxury features like the newest Benz. But neither has anything like the prestige of the Mercedes badge. The BMW does, but its M edition is gone, on an untimely time-out.

The CLA is a scaled-down imitation of the prettiest Mercedes on sale today, the CLS, and that's its biggest ace. It may be as short as a Civic, but its elegant profile and frameless glass counter the compact-car blahs, and chip away visually at the front end's height. The sporty cockpit lifts its inspiration from the SLK, not the C-Class, and the mix-and-match aesthetic works extremely well. That is, until you scan the LCD screen planted awkwardly on the dash, instead of integrated into the center stack.

The CLA 250's drivetrain pairs a 2.0-liter turbo four with 208 horsepower to a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. It's a combination with 0-60 mph times of 6.7 seconds and a 149-mph top speed in its portfolio, underpinned with some grunty four-cylinder noises. The transmission wants to be in sport or manual mode, for quicker shift responses, though: even with paddle controls, it gets caught off-guard. Gas mileage numbers of 30 mpg combined are easily reachable, though the available all-wheel-drive system is sure to shave a mile per gallon off those numbers.

The CLA45 AMG recasts that engine in myriad ways, from block to pistons to turbocharger to its 26.1 psi of boost. Output shoots to 355 horsepower, 0-60 mph times fall to 4.5 seconds, and top speed rises to 155 mph. All-wheel drive is standard, and a reprogrammed dual-clutch with three driving modes suits up to harness the power much more effectively than in the CLA 250.

Unlike any other mainstream Mercedes before it, the CLA's tightly tuned steering and ride break from tradition. The variable-effort, variable-ratio electric steering is full of weight and quick to respond, and largely without feedback. Two out of three is good, by electric-steering standards. The CLA's independent suspension gets a standard "sport" setting in the U.S. and likely rare 17-inch run-flat tires, since 18-inch wheels will be a $500 option. With the CLA 250 and 18-inch wheels, the very firm ride and occasionally jarring impacts of French roads would trigger a test drive of the standard setup, if it were our money.

The CLA45 AMG? It's another proposition entirely, and we're not sure its ride isn't a touch more refined, even with optional 19-inch wheels and tires and an available AMG sport suspension. It corners ruthlessly flat, dials out most of the CLA's native understeer, and if it suffers in comparison with the wild-hair, rear-drive, V-8 AMGs of recent vintage...well, what doesn't?

Compact dimensions place the CLA in a vast class of cars that ranges from the Ford Focus to the Honda Civic, or to more upscale machinery like the BMW 1-Series, Acura ILX, and Buick Verano. It's 182.3 inches long, with a wheelbase of 106.3 inches. As with most of those cars, back-seat room is tight, with minimal headroom for medium-sized adults and somewhat difficult entry and exit in through the rear doors. Trunk space is good, with a flat load floor, and the CLA has a few useful storage bins in the cabin for small items.

Among its standard safety features, the 2014 CLA carries a new Collision Prevention Assist function; using radar, the CLA can alert the driver of upcoming obstacles when it's traveling at more than 4 mph, and can calculate the amount of brake force needed to avoid an impact. Also standard are Attention Assist and its coffee-cup reminder to pull over and avoid drowsy driving, and a driver knee airbag. Safety options include adaptive cruise control; blind-spot monitors; lane-keeping assistance; and parking sensors with parking assist. Visibility isn't great to the rear--we hope the rearview camera gets liberated into an inexpensive, stand-alone option in the near future.

Dollars to rubber doughnuts, the $30,825 2014 CLA comes comparably equipped to the high-trim versions of its contemporaries. It comes with standard Bluetooth, cruise control, a power driver seat, and MB-Tex upholstery. Smartphone connectivity comes via Mercedes-Benz's mbrace2 and a 5.8-inch screen, while three navigation options will be offered--the most expensive, with voice commands, the rearview camera and real-time traffic. With the Premium package--it bundles an iPod interface with satellite radio, surround sound, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and a garage door opener--the CLA should retail for about $33,500. It will be impossible to option the CLA 250 past $40,000.

The CLA45 AMG is configured much the same, save for its drivetrain. The base price of $48,375 leaves room for option packages that include Recaro performance seats, carbon trim for the outside and the inside, a black-out trim package, and uprated tires, before it hits an expected average out-the-door price of about $55,000.

A panoramic sunroof is a stand-alone option on any CLA, as are leather seats, summer tires, parking assist, blind-spot monitors, and heated front seats.

The CLA 250 and CLA45 AMG are on sale now, while the all-wheel-drive CLA 250 lands in showrooms early in 2014.

 

Likes:

  • Mini-CLS silhouette
  • Eager turbo four-cylinder engine
  • Grippy front seats to go with handling
  • The least expensive new Mercedes
  • The three-pointed star gets Facebook in the car

Dislikes:

  • Are we ready for a Civic-sized Benz again?
  • Rear-seat headroom is tight
  • LCD screen's tacked-on look
  • Ride can feel stiff
  • Shifts need to speed up
Next: Interior / Exterior »

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