Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Car Review

Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake review

£32,055 - £58,135
Published: 31 Jan 2020


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.

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 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 patrol, it’ll turn in crisply, but the lustier diesels like the CLA 220d are leaden and blunt the car’s responses. 

That said, we’d vouch for the CLA 220d as the sweet spot. It’s one of Merc’s newer diesels, so it’s a low-friction smoothie allied 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 7.8 seconds. Truthfully, in everyday use it’s tricky to see why you’d need a wider spread of abilities than that. Though keep an eye out for when we drive the CLA 35 and CLA 45, just in case big turbos change our mind…

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Highlights from the range

the fastest

Mercedes-Benz CLA Class CLA 45 S 4Matic+ 5dr Tip Auto
  • 0-624s
  • CO2191.0g/km
  • BHP421
  • MPG33.6
  • Price£52,135

the cheapest

Mercedes-Benz CLA Class CLA 180 AMG Line 5dr Tip Auto
  • 0-629.2s
  • CO2126.0g/km
  • BHP136
  • MPG51.4
  • Price£32,055

the greenest

Mercedes-Benz CLA Class CLA 220d AMG Line 5dr Tip Auto
  • 0-627.2s
  • CO2112.0g/km
  • BHP190
  • MPG65.7
  • Price£36,255

Variants We Have Tested

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