The CLA is actually based on the smaller A class’s front-wheel-drive platform. The CLA therefore grows a bit in size to be positioned between the A- and C-class models. Rear-seat space is still tight, though. Photo: Mecedes-Benz

The CLA is actually based on the smaller A class’s front-wheel-drive platform. The CLA therefore grows a bit in size to be positioned between the A- and C-class models. Rear-seat space is still tight, though. Photo: Mecedes-Benz

An entry-luxury overachiever with more sporting aspirations

The second-generation CLA is a desirable piece of eye candy and is also one of the more affordable vehicles in the Mercedes-Benz lineup

The second-generation CLA is a desirable piece of eye candy and is also one of the more affordable vehicles in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. Before diving in, however, there are certain practicalities that should be considered.

You see, the CLA is a bit of a head scratcher. For most buyers/lessors, the four-door car likely makes more sense than selecting some two-door model. However, the head- and leg-room-deficient rear seat in the low-slung sedan — that Mercedes-Benz insists on calling it a coupe — isn’t suitable for taller occupants.

The original CLA that launched for 2014 was an entry-level model inspired by the larger CLS, but in a scaled-down format and at much less than half the CLS’s base price. According to Mercedes-Benz, most of the CLA’s 750,000-plus owners worldwide are, not surprisingly, considerably younger than the typical M-B customer.

The 2019 arrival of the compact A-class sedan and hatchback automatically bumped the CLA to the next rung up the ladder, even though the CLA shares the A’s front-wheel-drive platform.

Compared with the original CLA, the new model (the special Editon 1 with orange trim is pictured here) is five centimetres wider and longer overall, while the distance between the front and rear wheels has increased by about 2.5 centimetres. Stowage volume is down slightly, but the previously tapered trunk lid is now wider at the base by more than 25 centmetres. Full marks for practicality in this instance.

Those who criticized the CLA for providing a less-than-premium cabin should be content with the significantly updated interior of the 2020 model. The star of the show is the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) dashboard that was first installed in the 2019 A class. It comes with a pair of adjacent 7.0- or available 10.25-inch displays. With the larger screens, either the driver or front passenger can scroll through various functions on the right-side screen by swiping their hands close to it (referred to as gesturing).

A Voice Control assistant can respond to questions related to the CLA’s operation, make nearby restaurant suggestions or even provide the latest stock quotes, sports scores (among others). Just begin every command by calling out, “Hey Mercedes.”

A console-located track pad can also be used for climate, communications and navigation selections.

The turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine found in the 2020 CLA 250 4Matic makes 221 horsepower, up from 208. Torque remains unchanged at 258 pound-feet.

A seven-speed automated manual transmission (with paddle shifters) returns, but Mercedes-Benz says it has been tweaked to deliver smoother and more precise shifts.

Fuel economy hasn’t been relased yet, but should be close to the previous model’s 8.2 l/100 km in combined city and highway driving.

Joining the CLA 250 4MATIC later in the model year will be the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 with 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, and the CLA 45 that ups the output to 382 horses and 354 pound-feet.

The AMG models come with 4MATIC all-wheel-drive, which is also standard in the CLA 250.

Mercedes-Benz has also addressed the CLA’s overly firm ride by increasing the amount of suspension travel, while at the same time slightly lowering the ride height. An optional active suspension offers Comfort and Sport modes.

Another extra, the Driver Assistance Package, provides semi-autonomous vehicle operation — including hands-free driving under certain circumstances — as well as Active Emergency Stop and Active Lane Change Assist, which functions only on multi-lane highways.

CLA 250 pricing starts at $45,000 (including detination charges), which is about $8,000 more than the A-class sedan. That gets you a great-looking ride with plenty of comfort and safety content for a reasonable fee (for a Mercedes-Benz, that is). If you’re OK with the undersized back seat, then you’re good to go.

What you should know: 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

Type: Four-door, all-wheel-drive compact sedan

Engines (h.p.): 2.0-litre DOHC I-4, turbocharged (221)

Transmission: Seven-speed automated manual

Market position: Mercedes-Benz has misappropriated the term “coupe” for years, applying it to sedans (and utility vehicles) with sloped rooflines. The CLA and the larger CLS sedans have achieved success, putting style ahead of practicality.

Points: A new (larger) platform, but familiar CLA looks. • First-rate interior appointments are stylish and high tech. • Base turbo I-4 engine gets a bit more power, but the AMG versions should satisfy those with a need for speed. • Dynamic safety and semi-autonomous technologies are migrating downward from pricier M-B models, although emergency braking is optional. • Leans more toward sporty than entry luxury.

Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (std.); active cruise control (std.); emergency braking (opt.); lane-keeping assist (std.)

L/100 km (city/hwy) 9.6/6.6 (est.); Base price (incl. destination) $45,000

BY COMPARISON

Acura ILX

Base price: $32,000

Aging Honda Civic-based FWD sedan is propelled by a modest 201-h.p. I-4.

Audi A3 Quattro

Base price: $40,200

Compact model is available in sedan or convertible. S3 model makes 400 h.p.

Cadillac CT5

Base price: $40,000 (est.)

New 2020 sedan replaces the CTS and ATS. Turbo I-4 and V-6s will be available.

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, be sure to visit TodaysDrive.com to find your dream car today!

-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Although Mercedes has addressed practicality by making the truck lid more than 24 centimetres wider at the base, the CLA clings to its artful fastback design, a shape that unfortunately crowds back-seat passengers. Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Although Mercedes has addressed practicality by making the truck lid more than 24 centimetres wider at the base, the CLA clings to its artful fastback design, a shape that unfortunately crowds back-seat passengers. Photo: Mercedes-Benz

If there was any doubt that the previous CLA’s interior was too basic, look at the upgrade for the 2020 model. Aside from a premium look and feel, the optional MBUX user interface adds top-of-the line infotainment to a more entry-level vehicle. Photo: Mercedes-Benz

If there was any doubt that the previous CLA’s interior was too basic, look at the upgrade for the 2020 model. Aside from a premium look and feel, the optional MBUX user interface adds top-of-the line infotainment to a more entry-level vehicle. Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Just Posted

Maureen Thom holds a can of Suck it Cancer Pale Ale and a heart created by her son Michael ‘Chili’ Thom when he was in kindergarten. (Submitted photo)
Backcountry Brewing creates limited edition beer to fundraise for BC Cancer Foundation

Squamish based beer company Backcountry Brewing has released a limited edition batch… Continue reading

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ staff and trustees held their annual general board meeting Dec. 2 via Microsoft Teams. (SD68 image)
Nanaimo Ladysmith school district chairperson retains role, new vice-chair chosen

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools held annual general meeting Wednesday

The Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary is taking a pro-active approach and closing the thrift shop as a precautionary measure as of Saturday. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop closing again as a precautionary measure

Second closure this year will last at least six weeks due to the COVID situation

Jon Lefebure went back to construction after losing the 2018 mayor’s post in North Cowichan to work on the Cottages On Willow. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Former North Cowichan mayor retools priorities with construction project

Fresh air a benefit and satisfaction results from building eight-unit housing complex

Protesters stand in front of a truck carrying logs to the WFP Ladysmith log sort. (Cole Schisler photo)
Protesters block entrance to Western Forest Products in Ladysmith

Blockade cleared by Ladysmith RCMP around noon, December 2

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Emergency crews used a backhoe loader to clear fire debris from the scene of a fire on Wesley Street Thursday as police and firefighters gathered up propane tanks, stoves and fireplaces used by camp residents to heat tents. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
City of Nanaimo dismantles downtown homeless encampment after fire

Four to six tents burned up in Wesley Street fire Thursday, Dec. 3

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

Most Read