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Car Review – The Mercedes CLA

Mercedes-Benz has recently released its new group of small cars called the CLA series. The CLA is based on a front wheel drive system, much like the smaller A class vehicles. The CLA will cost about half that of the CLS class, coming in at about 2.64 million baht vs. the CLS’s 4.99 million baht.

Mercedes Benz CLA seriesWhether or not the new CLA is a coupe is open to interpretation. It certainly sports the sleek lines the coupes have, as well as showing off a low roof line and frameless doors. Maybe it could be classed as a coupe/saloon crossover, much like the CLS was classed. The CLA certainly looks sportier and to the untrained eye it may look just as expensive a car as its big brother. 

The front grille sports the Mercedes logo with two horizontal grill lines that go to the edge of the grill mesh. Headlights are swept back and are of an interesting shape, unlike any of the other Mercedes models, but still in keeping with Mercedes’ theme of making interestingly shaped unique headlamp designs.

With five-spoke alloy wheel options the CLA does look sporty as it has a slightly stretched design. Vents placed each side of the car below the grille look smooth and well-proportioned. A road skirt finishes off the front design and is shaped for completeness. Rear lights come with LED strips in keeping with the market trend at present. There are two separate LED loops giving four lines of fine light to the tail light units. 

With little competition in that market the CLA should do well in Thailand. There are a number of other models that are available overseas but not in Thailand, such as the Audi A3 Saloon. There certainly seems to be demand for mid-sized saloon/coupes and Mercedes’ price point looks attractive in a market where you might otherwise have to spend a lot more money.

The CLA is packed with safety features including driver and front passenger airbags, as well as dual stage driver and passenger seat-mounted side impact airbags in the front. Head height airbags are evident in the rear. There is even a separate driver and passenger knee airbag.

The car features ABS brakes with driveline traction control, a radar-based collision prevention assist braking system, electronic stability control, a tyre pressure monitor complete with a tyre specific low pressure warning system and child safety rear door locks.


The CLA series will come in the form of the CLA180, the CLA200, the CLA220 and the CLA250 as well as the four wheel drive CLA250 4Matic. A higher performance CLA250AMG version will also be released with better performance.

The CLA180 comes with a 1.6 litre engine and the CLA220 and CLA250 come with a 2.1 litre petrol power unit. The later models can top 230 kmh (143 mph) and can make 0-100 kmh in a reasonably impressive 8.2 seconds. As for the smaller engine in the CLA180 it delivers 120bhp and can handle acceleration from 0-100 kph in 9.2 seconds.

All the cars in the series are fuel efficient with the CLA180 boasting up to 50.4 mpg. The CLA250 provides for 46.3 mpg with its standard seven-speed transmission in a dual-clutch automatic gearbox design.

To aid fuel efficiency, all models have a low drag co-efficient and even have smart touches such as a closing grille to aid aerodynamics. There are also vents in the rear wheel arches and the mirrors and rear lamps have been designed with best airflow in mind.

The car handles well and steering is suitably weighted to give it an old-school feel even though the car is recently developed. Brakes work well and the handling of the car has no notable deficiencies. It might look more sporty than its actual handling manages, but the car does a good job of utilizing the power under the hood in all road conditions. Suspension is a little on the hard side and this may make owners think twice about other cars in the Mercedes range which give a softer ride. Still, on a long journey on good roads the ride is smooth and effortless.

As for the interior, it isn’t, for obvious reasons, as spacious as the interior in the CLS and other larger models. The low roofline makes itself apparent especially for taller drivers, but also marks its presence in the rear seating area where it curves downward as it nears the back of the car. Leg room is somewhat limited but this is after all a shorter wheelbase model than Mercedes’ previous range. 

Yet, it is a premium interior with a rich feel and well chosen materials in the build. Look for leather seats with red stitching, and hardwearing but classy door panels and dashboard. Also of note is the quietness of the cabin interior at all speeds, even at higher speeds. The boot space is adequate though not huge, and this in spite of the lower lines at the rear of the vehicle.

Out of the various models the CLA220CDI looks likely to be in a position to sell well. The engine is punchier and more responsive and suits the overall weight and handling structure of the car. That’s not to say the CLA180 won’t be of interest to cost conscious drivers, given it provides a more economical drive.

For those looking for more sporty options then the CLA250AMD will add edginess and may make the car more saleable in a resale market where something special is always valued.