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Car Review

Mercedes-Benz CLA review

£34,235 - £51,075
710
Published: 26 Oct 2023
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Let’s start with the available engines. Things begin with the 180 and 200, which both use a 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol and are now equipped with a 48-volt mild hybrid setup which reduces start-up times, provides an extra 14bhp power when accelerating, and improves efficiency by allowing the combustion engine to shut down when coasting. The former has 134bhp, and the latter 161bhp.

We’ve tried the 200, and while it provides enough grunt - 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds and 142mph - when you put your foot down it sounds a bit thrashy. More annoying is the gearbox, though, which is a seven-speed DCT carried over from the last generation CLA. While it feels better here than in some A- and B-Classes we’ve tried, it remains dim-witted around town and hesitant when you’re pulling away.

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Your sole diesel option (over here, at least) is the 220d. It borrows the 2.0-litre from the C-Class and E-Class, an engine diesel naysayers should note is already compliant with emissions standards that don’t come into force until 2035. It’s very smooth and quiet, and punch enough with 187bhp and 295lb ft of torque. Crucially, it gets an eight-speed DCT that’s way, way better than the petrol cars’ seven.

What about the plug-in hybrid?

Hold your horses, we’re getting there. The CLA 250e features a 1.3-litre petrol engine, which delivers 161bhp and 199lb ft of torque, while the electric motor can generate an additional 108bhp and 221lb ft.

The more pertinent figure, however, is the claimed up to 48 miles of all-electric range courtesy of the 15.6kWh battery. On our 30-mile test drive, we spent 59 per cent of it running on battery power according to the trip computer, which isn’t bad going. You can also instruct the car to run in Electric, Hybrid or Battery Hold modes, meaning you could feasibly do the average UK commute (23 miles) without using any petrol.

How does it ride?

All UK models get Merc’s “lowered comfort suspension”, which we found a little firm. Though Mercedes claims the four-door coupe is the most “dynamic” of its compact cars, it’s not an especially sporting thing – more laid back, like a mini GT – so we’d have preferred a little more finesse. Shame we don’t get adaptive suspension, which isn’t even an option in the UK.

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The CLA is quiet on the motorway with minimal wind noise, though bigger wheels and tyres add road roar. The optional panoramic sunroof adds more ambient noise, too, but there’s never any rustle from around the tops of the pillarless doors. Lane Keep Assist and Speed Limit Assist are standard and work well enough.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

CLA 250e AMG Line Premium Plus 4dr Tip Auto
  • 0-627.6s
  • CO2
  • BHP214.6
  • MPG
  • Price£51,075

the cheapest

CLA 180 Sport Executive 4dr Tip Auto
  • 0-629.4s
  • CO2
  • BHP134.1
  • MPG
  • Price£34,235

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