When launched in 2013 the Mercedes¬-Benz CLA was hailed as the “World’s most aerodynamic production vehicle” and on looks alone this is very believable. In July of 2014 another model was added to the Australian CLA range, EFTM spent a week in the deliciously stunning Mercedes-Benz 250 Sport 4MATIC.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
Walking onto a Mercedes-Benz showroom is not dissimilar to visiting an international motor show, there’s simply a tonne of attractive sheet metal lying around. But the CLA seems to catch one’s eyes over and above the rest. So much so that at the launch I’m sure many were a little too taken back by its sheer beauty. The car is basically a glassed encased dome sitting between a long-nosed bonnet with a diamond encrusted front grill and a radically tailored retro rear end – a coupe with four doors and plenty of soul.
The CLA is based on a platform that also supports the A, B and GLA class range, consequently there are many similar design elements. Five turbine-look vents are spread across the upper horizontal aluminium trimmed dash. A free-standing infotainment screen sits above a button clad panel with a typical rotary control also chiming in to run the various in-car functions. Harman Kardon badges point to the potency of the excellent sound system with red seat belts and red leather stitching ramming home the point that this is somewhat a rebellious offering.
But how does this piece of fine art actually go? Very well in fact, I’d argue strongly that the CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC is one of the most engaging rides to be had. The 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system provides for a tenacious drive, awesome grip combined with finely honed poise. The ride is a tad stiff with a 15mm lower suspension setting which sees B-roads disturb the peace.
European 2.0-litre turbo engines are remarkable these days and the Merc’s is no different. This is one swift little puppy without being overly neck breaking. It builds smile-inducing pace effortlessly, never feeling underdone and even with the odd exhaust pop thrown in.
Ins And Outs
The CLA 250 Sport is fitted with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder direct injection turbocharged engine. The important figures are 155kW and 350Nm of torque, the latter available from 1200rpm. A dose of AMG styling includes a Diamond (look) Grille, Intelligent Light System, 18” AMG Wheels, sports pedals, AMG tuned suspension and sports steering wheel.
The seven-speed dual-clutch style automatic unfortunately feels the same as many others, sluggish at lower speeds making it a burden in heavy traffic. These types of computerised boxes just can’t seem to nail real world driving conditions. In Auto mode you can expect fuel saving but annoying early gear changes as the default. However at speed and with Sport mode selected it’s a different ball game with lighting quick, precise gear changes.
This model includes a standard panoramic glass sunroof, I’m not the biggest fan of the semi-translucent netting blind when the roof is closed. On a scorching hot day heat tends to invade the cabin. Don’t expect much room in the rear particularly for the tall ones, that aerodynamic roof line has its consequences!
The Tech Inside
As with all prestige cars the options list can run long, but this is where some serious tech starts to creep in. The $2,490 COMAND Package brings with it a 17.8cm TFT colour display, hard drive driven navigation (HDD), SUNA RDS-TMC which provides traffic update messages using the FM band in some metropolitin areas, a 10GB music register, DAB+ Radio and LINGUATRONIC voice recognition.
Another $2490 scores you the Driving Assistance Package which brings a couple of handy goodies to the equation. Included is Lane Keep Assist which causes the steering wheel to vibrate when you stray across lane markings. DISTRONIC PLUS is a radar based system which maintains a safe gap between you and the vehicle in front while in cruise control. It will also alert you visually and acoustically if an impeding prang is detected.
An Intelligent Light System includes cornering lights and adaptive high beams which automatically dip for oncoming motorists.
The Hip Pocket
Before dealer delivery and all on road costs the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC is priced from $58, 500. The aforementioned options fitted to our test car took the base price to $64,770. Fuel economy is rated at 6.6L/100km, a dubious figure with our real world test averaging 8.4L/100km. Mercedes-Benz offer a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
The EFTM Rubber Stamp of Approval
I like this car, I like this car a lot. There are a couple of comparable Germans that are quicker, more powerful and with all-wheel-drive. But for me the CLA 250 Sport definitively stands out from what is already a world class range. It combines classic Mercedes-Benz prestige with a more youthful, less stuffy vibe. To the people who dispute the appeal of its dramatic silhouette, I say the same to the person that once tried to convince me Miranda Kerr isn’t attractive – you’re kidding. I award the Mercedes-Benz the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of Approval.