Those who do not follow the automotive trend and hear me talk about the new 2014 Mercedes Benz CLA250 always end up with their jaw dropping. The CLA is a brand new class in Mercedes and the first Mercedes in the U.S. standard with four-wheel drive. Mercedes worked hard on making this car very economical without losing any sportiness. Normally, I wouldn’t relate sportiness with Mercedes due to all the luxury sedans. If you think I lost my mind because Mercedes’ AMG divisions are known for their sportiness, those are not the reasons why people lost the strength to close their mouths. The reason was the price. For a Mercedes, not to mention an AMG, the base price starts at $30K and is adequately equipped at that. Without those additions only tacked on by people who don’t know how to drive, the total cost is just over $43K. This is one amazingly good and affordable Mercedes Benz.
The all-new 2.0L turbocharged straight-4 produces a staggering 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and it is paired with a 7-speed DCT dual-clutch automatic that can be changed with a touch of the standard paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Three driving modes are available (E, S, and M), which can be changed with the push of a button right next to the emergency light switch. I guess the E mode is for when things goes wrong in S and M modes, but I highly doubt it because the CLA is very stable. This is achieved by the sport-tuned 4-wheel independent with a mix of MacPherson struts and four-link suspension that provides the driver with confidence when you want to have fun. All this sportiness and horsepower doesn’t contribute to the extremely rich petroleum industry, since it has an estimated mpg of 26 city/ 38 highway. First aid is a start/stop system, which can be turned off easily, helps the fuel economy and doesn’t spoil off the line acceleration when on. Second is the body work so insane that I could not comprehend how it was achieved on a 4-door sports coupe. The drag coefficient is only 0.22, meaning the car doesn’t need a lot of power to pry through air, thus using less fuel at high speeds. It really is a feat of precision German engineering.
Like all Mercedes, luxury and safety is of highest quality, but how much can be expected from such a low price? Along with the above attachments and capabilities, luxuries such as rain-sensing wipers, 14-way front seats with memory, and illumination in many places are standard on the CLA. It also has a 5.8 inch display, which does not retract but is not in the way, that can be controlled by a very easy to use central controller located at resting arm length. As standard, there is HD radio and Bluetooth connectivity, and a numerical pad on the dashboard for phone calls without reaching for your phone in your pocket. You even get air vents that come from the SLS. Navigation is optional but with such a low price, I’m sure it is possible to throw in extra money to perfect your Mercedes experience.
However, there are still some flaws to this amazingly good car, which is why I only say it is good and not great. It is a Mercedes, not an AMG, so I expected a softer ride, not to feel like I am sitting on a tractor while going over bumps and holes. I know it’s supposed to be sporty, but does it have to break my back when I drive over a railroad crossing? I like the racy feel and the little bit of turbo lag when I drive it hard, but I want to have a casual, long trip through Jersey roads without needing a chiropractor afterwards. But giving credit where credit is due, a recently college graduate with a decent career can afford to go around and say “I drive a sporty Mercedes.” Last time I checked, that is very cool. I can’t wait to see if I can drive the AMG version.
Thanks to Melanie Schrimpe from Open Road Mercedes of Bridgewater for her excellent help and information.
by Xavier Poon