Comfort first and foremost
Mercedes aims to achieve the same sort of success it enjoyed with the previous model (750,000 CLA and CLA Shooting Brake models sold) with this compact four-door coupé - the second generation of the CLA. The recipe that it hopes will bring it this renewed success includes a redesigned body and more efficient and ‘intelligent’ assistance systems.
In terms of design, the new Mercedes CLA Coupé should at least maintain the same sort of appeal as its predecessor, its new slender profile closely resembling that of its big brother the CLS at 4.69m in length - almost 5cm longer than before -, not to mention the fact that it is also 5cm wider, at 1.83m. The new CLA offers the added benefit of a little more space, which is particularly noticeable when it comes to the elbow and head room in the back, giving rear passengers much more space than they had before.
Since the narrow tail lights now come in two parts, the boot opening has also been widened, making it much easier for loading. The capacity of the boot has, however, shrunk slightly to only 460L as opposed to the 470L of the previous model, though it’s still good value. When it comes to carrying bulky objects, provided that they are not too high, the rear seats can also be folded down. As with the A-Class, the architecture of the passenger compartment is dominated by the wing-shaped dashboard that stretches from door to door. The wide, completely independent screen comes as standard on the CLA and offers infinite possibilities, including, of course, an improved version of the MBUX voice command system, which can now answer more complex questions following the “Hey Mercedes" command.
The fact that the CLA also accepts commands using a series of touch buttons on the steering wheel, touch screen and centre console keypad doesn't help matters, either. It may allow the driver to choose their preferred means of access, but in our opinion there really is too much choice.
What about the engines? The four petrol engines range from the 100kW/136hp CLA 180 to the 165kW/224hp CLA 250. There are also three diesel engines offering everything from 85kW/116hp (CLA 180d) to 140kW/190hp (CLA 220d), all of which have been completely revamped. We test drove the 120kW/163hp CLA 200 - a 4-cylinder 1332cc turbo petrol engine that accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in 8.5 seconds and can reach a top speed of 229km/h - and found this model to be a good compromise without being particularly sporty.
Out on the road the vehicle has various driver assistance features, some of which are inherited from the S-Class, including emergency brake assist, adaptive lighting, active cruise control and lane departure assist, among others. The suspension isn’t too firm, either, making for a pleasantly comfortable ride. The 4MATIC all-wheel drive is also available on some versions.