After 8 months with the A200, I’ve managed a switch to the CLA200. What is this? Well it’s the A-class that they made a bit longer and chopped the hatch off. Although it looks a bit like a sedan, Mercedes naming conventions have it down as a coupé. This is further aligned by the limited head-space for the rear seat passengers.
The CLA by name is not an A-Class, but by every other measure it is. Both cars share interior and exterior design features, have the same engine options and are based on the same platform. The CLA was introduced 8 months after the launch of the A-Class. A CLA station wagon (or shooting brake) has been released this year, looks beautiful, but is not yet available in South Africa.
The specific cars (A and CLA) I drove have the identical engine, gearbox and FWD system. Sitting in the CLA feels exactly the same as sitting in the A-Class, besides the media screen’s thinner frame, and noticeable changes to the door due to the frameless doors on the CLA.
So I thought the A-Class I drove had no extras, but the CLA had even less. No ‘Mirror’ package, means the side mirrors don’t fold away (a nice visual cue for whether your car is locked or not) and also that the mirrors don’t auto dim when lights shine on them. Even with the lack of extras, the car still came with cruise-control, bluetooth and tyre pressure monitoring.
Outside, the bonnet has some extra styling lines, the side profile obviously differs with the boot instead of the hatch. Doors don’t have a window frame, and the stock 16″ wheels encourage an optional upgrade. Inside there are some minor design changes to the vents and trim, not specifically to my liking compared to the A-Class, but not bad. The rear seats do fold down, so I’ll still be able to get my bike in, which was something I was concerned about after the fixed rear seats of the old C-Class (split rear seats was an option).
The engine revving/noise seems to be tweaked slightly compared to the A-class, which means it doesn’t sound as strained. I also feel that the way it manages gears has also been tweaked slightly for the better, meaning I no longer have the issue of being in the wrong- or out of a gear when leaving a speed bump.
Although the CLA is marginally heavier (like 30kg) than the A-class, it still manages improved fuel-economy figures. Partially due to the car’s lower wind-resistance profile and partially due to an added ‘Charge’ fuel-saving feature. Only time will tell how accurate this is. Over the 18,810 km I did in the A-Class, I averaged 8.7 l/100km.
Overall I do like the CLA more. It’s a nicer looking car; I’ve always preferred a sedan shape to a hatchback (although the shooting brake really does take the cake) and I also feel it drives nicer than the A-Class. Suspension seems marginally stiffer, but this may be because I’m comparing a brand new CLA to an A-Class with several thousand Ks on the clock.
Another nice car, nothing amazing from Mercedes, but good looking, comfortable and decent handling. A very expensive car for what is a small sedan, but it is a premium brand, and the price is only marginally more than what you’d pay for the equivalent A3 sedan.