2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Review
It is not often that you see a premium car manufacturer going full throttle rolling out new cars every month but then there is Mercedes-Benz. They have already launched an army of cars in last couple of months and now they are back again with a new offering.
The recently launched Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is priced at Rs.31.50 lakh (ESR – Delhi). Even though it sits at the starting of the sedan range, it will offer almost same level of equipment as seen on more expensive iterations. It has the looks which can make starlets feel jealous. The company claims to have fine tuned the sedan after seeking inspiration from its F1 Motorsports division.
We have heard only good and nothing else about the CLA. Being a curious bunch, we did have our own set of unanswered questions and thus we got into one to find out more. Here is our first impression report of Mercedes-Benz CLA Class.
This has to be the most exciting looking Mercedes-Benz car ever made. Their efforts of making the car appeal the fashion friendly has paid off really well. The lavish proportions of metal, which flow in a wavy manner along its length and width, make it a gorgeous looking four door sedan.
It is based on the same platform as the A-Class and B-Class. The design language is an extension of that used on the hatchback only in CLA the levels have been further raised. Instead of choosing the same straights and squares, the designers opted for a more rebellious theme to enhance its sculpted lines.
Carrying the same face, distinguishing it becomes difficult unless you close in on to the dark meshed radiator grille which has an array of machined black studs. The lower bumper too is different with flowing air scoops. The well sculpted bonnet gives a muscular feel.
The silhouette has been given a dramatic touch with three main lines, the roof line and the two profile lines running on the side panel. The sloping roofline looks gorgeous to look at but there is also a reason to it. The CLA has spent close to 2,30,000 hours in the virtual wind tunnel perfecting its aerodynamic shape thus resulting a low coefficient of drag of 0.25 similar to that of a Nissan GT-R.
Save your attention for the rear. The bulging rear end with sweeping lights is second to none in its segment and even higher. The winged shaped tail lights might leave you following this car for long at night as the flowing LEDs are purely graphic. It gets twin exhaust pipes done in a chrome finish. Honestly, the CLA has the best looking rear compared to any other Benz car.
Inside a Benz, there are some things that you can take for granted like luxury, comfort and amazing fit and finish of trims. The CLA too follows the same tradition of delivering one of the finest interiors seen in a luxury compact sedan.
It looks visually more appealing than an Audi A3 as the complex lines of the dashboard paired with the mix of use of aluminium, soft touch leather and soft touch buttons make it feel expensive. The front dashboard, like the A-Class, borrows many elements including the air con vents and instrumental styling from the higher models thus making its customer feel connected with the brand.
It comes with sporty seats for the front as well as rear passengers. Unlike the hot seats in the CLA45AMG, these seats are comparatively more comfortable. The front zone can accommodate fairly tall passengers provided they are not too keen on moving their knees around. The rear passengers are not in for any joy as the sloping rear roofline will be an obstacle always especially if the car is being driven enthusiastically. While the rear passengers do get a door handle on top to hold, the front co-passenger doesn’t get one.
The other issue being that of the front view getting completely blocked by tall front seats. It gets individual rear seats which can seat only two occupants in comfort and leaves a remote possibility of squeezing one more provided he agrees to sit in between with a folded central armrest to his back support.
You can’t possibly ignore the 5.8 inch multimedia screen which stubbornly sits on the dashboard. For the ones who haven’t ventured in an A3, there is an option to slide the screen into the dashboard leaving a cleaner view for occupants. It is not all that bad when it comes to its resolution which replicates an Apple i-Pad feel. The visual graphic layout of options is impressive and looks similar to the one in S-Class.
That’s not all, this baby also gets panoramic sunroof which has more skills than just looking snazzy best. It automatically closes when it rains as the rain sensor steps in. The panoramic sunroof also makes the cabin feel airy in addition to giving breather headroom for taller passengers. There are multiple storage options onboard. It also gets a larger boot space at 470 litres.
Looks gorgeous and feels great inside too but everything boils down to one question. How good is it to drive? The CLA-Class, like the GLA crossover, comes in 2.0L petrol and 2143cc diesel engines. Both engines are meshed with a 7G-DCT transmission.
The quicker petrol engine is very active on throttle and is exactly the car you would want to be in if you are late. It can reach the triple speed start point at just under 8 seconds and can also reach a maximum speed of 235km/h. The seven speed dual clutch unit is at its peak in the petrol variant because of its free revving nature. Similar to others in the brand, the transmission unit offers three different modes to choose from which include the Economy, Sport and Manual. While Economy manages to deliver a balance between enthusiastic and sane style of driving, it is the ‘Sport’ mode, where the electronic controller changes the shift pattern for faster sprints. The manual mode is for drivers with sporty inclinations wherein shifts are done manually with shifter paddles.
The efforts needed to push the car and make it redline are lesser in the petrol as it feels lighter to drive. Even while overtaking, a slight push in the throttle and the turbocharged 2.0L does its job effortlessly. It does not emit an orchestral exhaust note like its AMG cousin but at the same time, it does make an impressive note at higher engine speeds.
The diesel variant, on account of having a higher displacement, is fairly audible. The diesel clatter is noticeable only at initial engine speeds which subside at higher rpms. It has a power output of 134bhp and a maximum torque of 300Nm. The diesel is not the type that encourages a hurried style of driving but instead acts like a smooth commuter i.e. if you are gentle on the throttle. The bigger displacement helps in reducing the number of shifts required while driving on highways. It is not as nimble as the petrol but at the same time it does not feel as lethargic as the GLA.
The noisy diesel engine is not much of a trouble once it catches sufficient pace. The in-cabin noise insulation is very impressive as it does not let any redundant noise seep in. The other bit where the CLA impresses is in handling. The ride and dynamics are impressive especially on hard uneven roads. Driving the CLA45AMG, with its low ground clearance, is absolutely horrifying as it often scrapes the under belly on almost all speed breakers but the standard CLA-Class has its way on them with a taller ride position.
The suspension setup is not exactly for stiff style driving but it is sufficiently agile to take on corners at great ease. If you are driving the CLA petrol around the corners, the vehicle just denies leaving the tarmac even when pushed hard. Credit for this goes to the McPherson strut front axle and four-link rear axle which ensures great control while manoeuvring.
|Variant||CLA 200||CLA 200 CDI|
|Total displacement (cc)||1991||2143|
|Max. engine output (bhp / rpm)||181 / 5500||134 / 3600 - 4400|
|Max. torque (Nm / rpm)||300 / 1200 - 4000||300 / 1600 - 3000|
|Approx. top speed (km/h)||235||220|
|Acceleration 0 – 100 kmph (s)||7.8||9.8|
|Tyres/wheels||225/45 R 17||225/45 R17 and 205/55 R 16|
|Kerb weight (kg)||1510||1570|
|Luggage compartment capacity (l)||470||470|
|Turning circle diameter (m)||11||11|
|Features||CLA - Class|
|Diamond radiator grille with pins in high-gloss black, silver-painted louvre and chrome inserts||Yes|
|Panoramic sliding sunroof with automatic rain closing feature||Yes|
|Navigation, Garmin® MAP PILOT||Yes|
|43.2 cm (R17) 5-spoke alloy wheels painted in tremolite grey with high-sheen finish||Yes|
|Rear bumper with insert in black plastic with chrome trim, twin-pipe exhaust system with rectangular, chromed tailpipes||Yes|
|ECO start/stop function||Yes|
|Steering wheel gear shift paddles||Yes|
|3-spoke multifunction steering wheel in black leather with perforated grip area, contrasting topstitching in crystal grey and inserts in silver chrome on the bottom spoke||Yes|
|Light and Sight package comprising single-colour ambient lighting with indirect illumination||Yes|
|Silver wave-look trim||Yes|
|Sports seats upholstered in black or sahara beige ARTICO leather with topstitching||Yes|
|Armrest on centre console with fore-and-aft adjustment and contrasting topstitching and large stowage compartment||Yes|
|Electrically adjustable driver and passenger’s seat with Memory Package||Yes|
|Harman Kardon® Logic 7® surround sound system||Yes|
|Audio 20 CD Multimedia system with high-resolution 17.8 cm colour display||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||CLA 200 CDI||35TDI Technology|
|Ex-Showroom Price||Rs. 3,590,000||Rs. 3,260,000|
|Power in bhp / RPM||134 / 3600||143 / 3500|
|Torque in Nm / RPM||300 / 1600||320 / 1750|
|Transmission||7-Speed AT||6-Speed AT|
|Wheel base mm||2699||2637|
|Fuel tank capacity L||NA||50|
|Tyre Spec||225 / 45 R17||205 / 55 R17|
The only reason on why the CLA should make it to your parking is cause of the way it looks. The design and styling of the CLA makes it belong to a class of its own. It also manages to make other Benz cars feel dated. In terms of performance, both the petrol and diesel are good to drive. They still aren’t the most engaging ones in the segment unlike the Audi A3, which may not be as feature rich as the CLA but even then is more fun to drive, especially the 40TFSI.
Prices of the CLA Class start at Rs.31.50 lakh and go all the way to Rs.35.9 lakhs, not making it an entry level offering but instead a compact and stylish alternate sitting just below the C-Class. With the CLA, Mercedes-Benz will target the young and affluent class looking for a sportier second car. To conclude, the German car manufacturer is on its toes with an aggressive plan to regain its lead over rivals. They plan to dominate 2015 with 15 new launches and an increased presence in the country with a major expansion plan.