8

10

Model

250 Sport

Price

$64,900

The Numbers

1991cc, 4cyl petrol turbo, 4WD, 155kW, 350Nm, 6.6L/100km, 0-100km/h in 6.6s, 1540kg

The Topgear Verdict

A WRX that went to university, but is not quite as fast. A fun and fancy prestige sedan.

2014 Mercedes CLA 250 Sport

What is it?

With a turbo four engine and all-wheel drive, the CLA 250 Sport is like a WRX for people who wear fancy pants instead of track pants.

Interestingly, it wasn’t the car Mercedes initially wanted for Australia. It was going to import front-drive version but it wouldn’t be available for several months, however an all-wheel-drive version was on the line and ready to go.

With hordes of locals throwing fistfuls of cash at the doors of the Mercedes Australia head office in Mulgrave for CLA 250s, the company gave in and decided to take the AWD car. By doing this, Mercedes is adding $1500 to the price and 50kg of heft, but the AWD system makes the CLA a better car, especially when it rains.

What’s it like to drive fast?

Well, we got to drive it on some brilliant twisty roads in New Zealand and can confirm this car is very much ‘choice, bro’.

The performance is not going to knock your jandals off, but there is still 155kW and 350Nm on tap thanks to the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo under the bonnet. There is also a turbo overboost function that makes an extra 10kW of power for bursts of 30 seconds. Mercedes couldn’t have found a better place to demonstrate the advantages of AWD. The roads were almost always wet, which really highlight the extra surety that having power going to each corner of the car brings.

Even when it is as wet as Wet Wet Wet concert, you can hit the accelerator harder in the corner and the CLA surges out, accelerating with real force. In the same conditions, the front driver would struggle to get the power down and the traction control would jump in with the enthusiasm of a bouncer at Crown casino.

A seven-speed dual clutch auto is bolted onto the back of the engine and this provides lots of fast shifts and flappy paddle fun, especially in Sport mode. AMG apparently helped out with the chassis package and recommended firmer springs and dampers, a thicker anti roll bar and three degrees of negative camber (which is still 17 degrees short of your mate’s VT Commodore). The changes must have worked because the ride is still pretty good and the handling is bloody good too.

What’s it cost, and is it worth it?

At $64,900, the CLA 250 Sport is cheap when you consider it is a performance sedan with a three-pointed star on the bonnet. It is also a fair chunk less expensive than the faster and far more mental AMG CLA 45.

At the same time, it is a very similar car to the A 250 Sport hatch, which is a performance bargain at $49,900. The CLA is similar except for the fact is a sedan, is AWD and has a bit more gear.

Despite its slopey roofline, there is actually a reasonable amount of headroom in the back. Two adults can sit in the rear with craniums a safe distance from the roof lining. There is heaps of space in the boot too.

Reviewed by: James Stanford

Driven: July 22, 2014