A new generation of vehicle design is upon us as automakers are looking into innovative and fresh designs where sedans now emulate the stylish look of sports-coupes. Within this segment, off of the heals of the prided CLS sedan, Mercedes-Benz has paved the road to introduce the all-new CLA, their first front-wheel-drive sedan for a respectable low price point and gateway into the luxury brand for younger consumers.
The all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 has set forth a new movement among many other German automotive counterparts where Audi has their new A3 and BMW sets sight on the coupe-esq sedan generation with a 4 Series Gran Coupe. Paving the trail first has its benefit as Mercedes-Benz looks to take the market by storm with the new CLA starting with the turbo-charged CLA250 riding on a front-wheel-drive platform.
The new 2014 CLA250 is still everything that you expect from a Mercedes-Benz in the aspects of the streamlined interior layout, masterfully sculpted exterior lines to foreshadow its more expensive brethren, and the driving dynamics that make it a pleasurable ride on the German autobahn and American highway system.
As a new entry point for consumers to step into the luxury brand, the all-new Mercedes-Benz CLA250 exhibits a starting price of just $30,000 getting you a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with direct injection pumping out 208 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque starting at an extremely low 1,250 rpm.
Power delivery to the front wheels comes about through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The use of the dual-clutch unit, another pioneered first for Mercedes-Benz, adds to the unsurpassed efficiency of the new CLA250 where it gets an EPA estimated 26 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. That efficiency is filtered through the automated 7-speed dual-clutch transmission’s ability to have more of a direct connection with the 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine. Together they work in harmony to propel the CLS250 to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds, emulating a vehicle with much more horsepower than stated on paper.
During my week-long drive in the new Mercedes-Benz CLA250 the powertrain had me surprised as it was more than willing to break the front wheels loose without unwanted torque steer. Basically, the new CLA250 is a peppy performer eager to quench the thirst of mild enthusiasts. The front-wheel drive setup was more than adequate to appease my enthusiast background with a bit of added fun banging through the 7 gears via steering wheel-mounted paddles.
Stability and comfort was a well-perceived balance I noticed in the new CLA250’s driving characteristics. The chassis proved to be balanced enough to remain civil and somewhat flat through light corners. Pushing the lateral-handling envelope on the new CLA250 showed some of its stumbles with a slight profusion of understeer but not without a predictable fight entering into a hard turn. Nevertheless, overall handling of the new CLA250 is great scoring a 0.92g on lateral acceleration tests.
Having a relatively low starting price point for a vehicle that proudly wears the three-point star emblem on its front grill you might expect a serious compromise. Surprisingly, with the all-new CLA250, the $30,000 price point gets you a nice list of standard features. However, with my test vehicle having an options list for just over $5,000, the CLA250 felt like it was still lacking that final touch that even an entry-level vehicle should have. Some of the highlighted standard features of the new CLA250 included the Eco Start/Stop system, 17-inch alloy wheels shod with all-season tires, Bluetooth connectivity for phones and audio streaming, front MB-Tex simulated leather power seats with lumbar support and memory, rain-sensing intermittent wipers, ambient lighting (accent lights under each seat’s headrest and soft lighting for each door panel/handle), collision prevention assist and attention assist (alerts you audibly and visually upon approaching an object too fast in front – applies brake pressure if a front-end collision is eminent), mbrace2 telematics system (connectivity to agents to assist with emergencies or vehicle issues), and split-folding rear seats.
The interior remains functional for 5 occupants but the rear seating is on the small side with drastically diminished leg and headroom when compared to many compact sedans on the market. Simply put, anyone near 6-feet tall should avoid the back seats all-together because you won’t fit. The front seats, fortunately, have ample room for tall individuals and the standard seats are supportive and comfortable for long trips but with some slight firmness.
The highlighted options equipped on my test vehicle, keeping the price at a respectable $36k, include Burl Walnut trim, 18-inch alloy wheels with high-performance tires, panorama sunroof, blind spot monitor, and a premium package with Harmon Kardon Surround Sound system w/SiriusXM, media interface (iPod/USB connections and Bluetooth audio streaming), heated front seats, driver’s side and interior auto-dim review mirrors, and dual-zone auto climate controls. This brings the complete package to a total of $36,700 including a $925 destination and delivery charge.
The basis of the all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is solid proving to be a nice platform to either retain its low entry-level luxury price tag or satisfy the luxury enthusiast with an onslaught of optional amenities and feature sets. At the top end of the options spectrum you could outfit a new CLA250 to reach upwards of $46,000 without breaking a sweat. These options, including some as simple as a rearview backup camera and GPS navigation system, would fulfill CLA250’s initial impression instead of leaving you desiring the finished luxury touch. This becomes evident as the high-mounted high-resolution LCD screen in the center of the dashboard remained unused except for audio control display and a minimal set of vehicle settings. Not to mention, the screen seems visually detached much like an aftermarket navigation system suction-cupped to the dashboard. This is not to say the CLA250 falls short on delivering an agreeable entry-level luxury experience, there is just more to be expected within the familiar Mercedes-Benz atmosphere. Initial impressions of the CLA250’s interior may fall short for few after the discovery of missing expectations – until you factor in the Benz-price scale. However, at a starting price of around $30,000 for a base CLA250, there really isn’t much else on the market carrying a prestigious name to contend with that has a solid driving platform and remarkable fuel economy. The CLA250, after all, is a true Mercedes-Benz that reaches into a new spectrum gravitating towards younger buyers yet retaining the cutting eye of traditional Mercedes-Benz patrons and curious luxury seekers looking for an unrivaled value. Not to mention, you get the stunning looks of a sports coupe wrapped up in an affordable luxury sedan package sporting the Mercedes-Benz name.
Copyright: 2014 AutomotiveAddicts.com
- Price: Base CLA250 29,995* / As-Tested $36,700
- Vehicle layout: Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
- Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve inline-4-cylinder 208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm / 258 lb-ft @ 1,250 rpm
- Transmission: 7-speed automated manual dual-clutch
- Curb weight: 3,262 lbs.
- Wheelbase: 106.3 in
- Length x width x height: 182.3 x 70 x 56.6 in
- Headroom: f/r-38.2 in./35.4 in.
- Legroom: f/r-40.2 in./27.1 in.
- 0-60 mph: 6.2 sec
- EPA city/hwy fuel econ: 26 mpg / 38 mpg
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.1 gallons