2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Class Preview

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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
January 18, 2019

Buying tip

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 arrives by the end of 2019 and AMG versions are bound to follow.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class comes packed with tech wrapped in a sexy bod, but it’s somehow less spacious than last year’s model.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class has some work to do to stand out in the German automaker’s showrooms. Its predecessor got by on its looks and its low price. The 2020 CLA250 has a new baby sibling in a new 2019 A-Class that’s not as pretty but may have more rational appeal to some buyers.

Then again, the CLA250’s dramatic roofline and shrunken-CLS lines may hold sway.

Like the outgoing CLA, the new car’s roof curves gently upward, never resulting in a flat plane. The rear window line flows into the trunk lid, which perks upward at its end to create a small, built-in spoiler. Up front, the CLA wears a large three-pointed star badge flanked by two chrome lines that run toward its standard LED headlights. Adaptive LED headlights that bend with steering wheel inputs are optional.

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The CLA250 launches late this year with a familiar 221-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4 that routes power to the front or, optionally, all four wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Other versions with engines blessed by Mercedes’ AMG division are likely to follow, but Mercedes has not yet detailed them. Adaptive dampers would be a nice touch, but we’ll hold judgement until we’ve ridden in the new CLA.

Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard and Mercedes offers 19-inch wheels as an option.

At a hair under 185 inches from bumper to bumper and 72 inches wide, the new CLA is marginally longer and wider than its predecessor. The 1.1-inch bump in its wheelbase to 107.4 inches should yield more leg room, but it doesn’t. The new CLA adds more head room up front plus more elbow and shoulder room all around. Its trunk also loses about a third of a cubic foot of storage. That’s a surprise given interior space was hardly a selling point for the outgoing CLA250.

The base CLA250 includes a pair of 7.0-inch screens in front of the driver. One serves as a configurable instrument cluster while the other is a touchscreen for the automaker’s MBUX infotainment software that responds to “Hey Mercedes” like a smart speaker or a smartphone. With an optional data package, MBUX connects to the Internet to help users find nearby points of interest.

Dual 10.3-inch screens under a single glass pane are optional for an even snazzier look inside. Regardless of screen size, the displays hover tablet-like above a trio of big, round climate vents and secondary climate control toggles. A touchpad in the center console serves as the primary controller for the MBUX system, although it’s also gesture control-capable.

The 2020 CLA250 doesn’t lack for safety features. Automatic emergency braking and a system that senses an impending rear collision and grabs the brakes to reduce the risk of a rolling vehicle are standard equipment. Options include adaptive cruise control that can automatically adjust the vehicle’s speed to changing posted limits and an automatic lane-change system are optional.

Style has its price—and for the CLA250, it’ll likely be more than $34,000 to start when it goes on sale around the end of 2019. That should put it at least $1,000 above the more spacious but less graceful A-Class. 

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