What is it like on the inside?
Surprisingly you can fit real people in the CLA’s rear seats. Not tall ones, admittedly, but actual people all the same. I’m 6ft, and I had certainly had enough legroom to sit behind a driver of similar height. Not so much headroom though - as indeed you’d expect from a car with so much rake. Kids will be fine back there, but with adults you’re better off treating it as a 2+2 instead of a proper four-seater.
Meanwhile up front, the driving position and seats are comfortable enough, and for the most part everything looks and feels nice and expensive. A notable exception is the indicator stalk, which feels cheap and poorly damped. Probe deeper and you will find more cheap-feeling and looking plastics, but mostly they’re in places you seldom have cause to look at our touch.
The CLA’s dashboard is shared with the A-Class hatch, which means two glossy displays and a very un-car-like look and feel. As standard the driver’s display is 7in wide, and the passenger’s 10.25in. For the full widescreen effect you need to upgrade to AMG Line Premium trim, which replaces the 7in screen for a second 10.25-incher.
The only way to control the driver’s screen is with a thumb-operated touchpad on the steering wheel, but with the centre screen you have a choice - the second of the wheel’s two touchpads, by touching the screen itself or with a trackpad on the centre console. The latter is our favourite. Lexus, take note: this is how you do trackpads.
Everything feels a bit intimidating at first, but once your fingers learn the system, your brain gets to grips with the ‘MBUX’ infotainment and you figure out how want you want it to look/behave (for it’s very customisable), it’s all good. Good graphics, good functionality and enough processing power for swift and smooth operation, whatever the input.
Voice control is the system’s party piece - say “Hey Mercedes” followed by a command, and its maker says MBUX ought to be able to decipher and answer pretty much any car based query. Not quite true, but as far as these systems go it’s pretty good. It's especially adept at changing radio stations, changing the colour of the ambient lighting and entering sat nav destinations. But it’s a bit hit and miss, especially if you have a regional accent.