Collision Prevention Assist Plus Inoperative

My first experience with Collision Prevention Assist was in my boss’ E-Class. It was a small red light on the dashboard which I figured out came on when I got too close to cars in front of me while driving.

Then I got an A-Class and learnt a bit more about it. It wasn’t so basic. If it thought you might not be paying attention it would beep loudly (shout in my terminology) at you to warn you that you might be about to crash.

Then I heard stories from a colleague who says he was driving on the highway, came up behind a car and all of a sudden his car automatically slammed on brakes. And this was also the fault of Collision Prevention Assistance Plus.

Now I’ve had it beep at me many times, and with my CLA it has also actually lightly engaged the brakes, but not once has it been in an instance of real danger. In my opinion. It happens most often when you’re driving behind a car and they turn off the road you’re on, slowing down considerably. I however maintain my speed because I’m driving straight. The car doesn’t know they’re turning and so warns you of your impending demise.

It is however an important safety feature, and the one time it saves you from an accident will be worth all the false-positives.

Not too unhappy am I then when I turn on my car a few weeks ago to be greeted by a yellow message saying “Collision Prevention Assist Plus Inoperative”. I check the manual and it says I must drive slowly and take the car to a dealer. This is 16h00 the day before I’m supposed to go on a 3,000km road trip. So what do I do? I find a dirt road, check the ABS and traction control are still functioning and decide to take my chances. As far as I can tell the car functioned exactly as normal besides the lack of this one function. And it was actually quite nice, because with it inoperative, it was unable to beep at me.

2015-09-09 08.16.50Eventually though, several weeks after it started warning me I took it in to the dealership. They kept it for the morning and told me they did a software update, now the message is gone, hopefully for good.

From what I’ve read on forums and discussed with other drivers, it’s not an altogether uncommon occurrence amongst CLA and GLA drivers. And in most cases a software update fixes the problem for good.

Discalimer: When I took the car in the service agent told me if they couldn’t fix it they would have to keep it overnight, as they can’t let me drive with one of the safety functions malfunctioning. Fair enough. What it does mean is that I (and you) should definitely not drive an additional 3,000 km before taking the car to be checked out.

2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA200 (C117)

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 coupĂ©. 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.

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake (this is not my car)

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.

This is kinda like my car

This is kinda like my car

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).

this is my one

this is my one

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.2015-06-22 16.45.52

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.2015-06-22 16.45.41

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.