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Car Review

Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake review

£35,235 - £52,075
Published: 07 Dec 2023


What is it like to drive?

It’s actually – whisper it – a bit lazy to brand the CLA as just an A-Class with a dinner jacket on. It’s actually set up to be better to drive. Or should that be ‘less disappointing’. Anyway, although the CLA shares its basic chassis with the A-Class, it’s been to a better handling school. The CLA rides on wider tracks, the front anti-roll bar is stiffer, and the springs and dampers have been retuned. With its extra size it’s also just that little bit more civilised on the move, making it the A-Class derivative of choice if you’re going to be doing a lot of motorway cruising. 

How’s the ride? 

The first result of this is a curious one: on the speed-hump-infested roads that lead to the Top Gear office, the CLA is far less prone than it has been in the past to flopping its nose onto speed bumps. That’ll be tighter body control at work, then. And so it proves as we leave the city behind and take the CLA Shooting Brake towards corners. 

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It’s a much more willing steer than the A-Class. It feels pointy and poised where the A-Class is all at sea. The limiting factor will be the engine you’ve asked Mercedes to install in the nose. If it’s a petrol, it’ll turn in crisply, but the lustier diesels like the CLA 220d are leaden and blunt the car’s responses. Likewise the PHEV version feels blunted by the extra weight of the electric tech. 

What’s the best engine?

We’d vouch for the CLA 220d as the sweet spot. It’s one of the newer diesels from Mercedes, so it’s a low-friction smoothie matched up to an eight-speed automatic – a far cry from the dismal old 2.1-litre diesel and seven-speed dual-clutch snore box. 

Floor it and you’re left in no doubt it’s a four-cyl turboderv, but under lighter duress it’s as polite as these powertrains come, good for an easy high-40s to the gallon and delivers you from 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds (quicker than the PHEV’s 7.7secs). Truthfully, in everyday use it’s tricky to see why you’d need a wider spread of ability than that. Of course, we’ve not had a proper go in the AMG versions of the car, so we reserve the right to change our minds at some point. 

The entry petrol (9.6secs 0–62mph) is a little underpowered for the job, but the CLA 200 (8.6secs 0–62mph) is a decent all-rounder if diesel is out of the question. The petrol engines are rated at around 50mpg, while the diesel promises around 60mpg of official WLTP economy. The PHEV will manage around 40 miles of electric range and around 35mpg once you’ve run out of juice. It will eke out the electricity nicely over a longer journey though.

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Highlights from the range

the fastest

CLA 250e AMG Line Premium Plus 5dr Tip Auto
  • 0-627.7s
  • CO2
  • BHP214.6
  • MPG
  • Price£52,075

the cheapest

CLA 180 Sport Executive 5dr Tip Auto
  • 0-629.6s
  • CO2
  • BHP134.1
  • MPG
  • Price£35,235

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