The CLA-Class has achieved the Mercedes-Benz goal set back in 2014 with car recognition: Successfully offering new customers with a lower-priced entry point into the Mercedes family and simultaneously freeing up some space for the C-Class to become more luxurious. The CLA-Class low prices will attract a lot of people’s attention by itself, but other attributes of the CLA are also interesting. Sleek style, sporty performance, excellent fuel economy, plenty of safety equipment and spacious trunks are also part of the deal.
If this is the only sedan in its class, we tend to agree. But there are several vehicles out there with the same price, and they don’t have the same drivability, comfort and space problems as the CLA-Class. In the end, we recommend checking other European models before deciding to take this Mercedes home.
For 2018, the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class largely unchanged.
Trim levels and features
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is a five-passenger, four-door compact luxury sedan. It’s available in two models: the CLA250 and the AMG CLA 45.
Standard equipment for the CLA 250 models includes 17-inch wheels, forward collision warning and mitigation, automatic wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front sport seats with memory functions, selectable drive modes, simulated leather upholstery (MB-Tex), 60/40-split folding rear seats with a center pass-through, a drowsy driver monitor, a rearview camera, an 8-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth connectivity, Mbrace emergency telematics, Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system, and an audio system with two SD card slots, HD radio, a CD player and two USB ports.
The AMG CLA 45 adds 19-inch wheels, upgraded brakes and transmission, a sport exhaust system, LED headlights and running lights, unique styling and aerodynamic flourishes, a torque-vectoring differential, simulated suede upholstery inserts and a sport steering wheel.
For more equipment, Mercedes offers a few main option packages to look out for. The Premium package adds blind-spot monitoring, a hands-free trunk lid, keyless ignition and entry, heated front seats and satellite radio. The Convenience package adds a universal garage door opener and auto-dimming mirrors. The Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning and intervention. The Interior package adds upgrade dash and door trim, leather upholstery and interior ambient lighting. The Multimedia package gets you voice controls, a navigation system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
Most AMG-based styling elements are available on the CLA250. Other options include a panoramic sunroof, an adjustable suspension, an automated parking system and a 12-speaker premium Harman Kardon audio system.
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission are standard, but the 4Matic all-wheel drive is available as an option. In performance testing, the CLA250 4Matic went from zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, which is a quick time for an entry-level luxury car. EPA fuel economy is impressive at 29 mpg combined (24 city/37 highway) with front-wheel drive and 27 mpg combined (24 city/32 highway) with all-wheel drive.
The 2018 AMG CLA 45 uses a different turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 375 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. A special AMG-tuned seven-speed automatic transmission and sport-tuned all-wheel drive are standard. In performance testing, the AMG CLA 45 launched from zero to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds, an astonishing time that bested most competitors. EPA estimated fuel economy is surprisingly frugal at 26 mpg combined (23 city/30 highway).
The 2018 CLA-Class cabin back in style with the latest generation of Mercedes cabin designs that are less visible than what is currently found in the C-Class and GLC-Class. As a budget-minded Benz, some cheaper interior plastic pieces can be found around the bottom of the dashboard and center console. But the CLA-Class still looks and feels premium, with a clean design and tight fits and finishes. You will even find it difficult to say that the standard MBTex fake leather is not real.
The center display screen has a larger view area. This is part of the navigation/COMAND electronic interface, which has been updated with the latest software. It doesn’t have a new touchpad controller, but we haven’t found it very useful, so we doubt you will want it. The remaining buttons and knobs can complete the job easily, but the latest system update seems a little more confusing than its predecessor.
Although some drivers may initially struggle with the column-mounted electronic shifter, the location creates extra center-console storage, including a bin deep enough for large water bottles. For larger items, the wide trunk lid offers 13.1 cubic feet of space, which is far more than the Audi A3.
The same thing cannot be said for the passenger space. Indeed, the front seats are very comfortable and supportive, especially on long trips, but the rear seats are uncomfortable. The legroom is sufficient, but the narrow headroom makes it feel crowded, and there is no center armrest. It is not even suitable for children because the backseat’s non-removable restraint makes it difficult to adjust the front facing car seat. Small doors also make it difficult to get in.
Release Date and Price
Official pricing for the CLA 250 starts at $33,695 (including a $995 destination charge). Add $2,000 for the 4Matic all-wheel drive. The performance-focused AMG CLA 45 costs $51,395 (including destination).