Mercedes-Benz CLA driving

Mercedes-Benz CLA review (2019-2023)

The Mercedes-Benz CLA is a sleek saloon or estate with a stylish interior and lots of high-tech features. It's supremely comfortable and will stand out from the usual saloons and hatchbacks.

Pros

  • Very efficient diesel engines
  • Lots of high-tech features as standard
  • Coupe looks with saloon or estate practicality

Cons

  • Ride can be a little firm
  • Costs more to buy and run than some rivals
  • Sleek roofline limits headroom a little

Summary

“Stylish yet reasonably practical, with a high-spec interior.”

By Cazoo editorial team

The Mercedes-Benz CLA is a premium mid-size model that combines coupe looks with four- or five-door practicality. It's based on the popular Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback and shares many parts with it, but the CLA looks sleeker, either as a four-door saloon model (which Mercedes labels as a coupe) or as the estate version, which is called CLA Shooting Brake.

We're focusing here on the latest (second-generation) CLA, which went on sale in 2019. It's available with a wide range of engines and there's also the option of petrol-electric plug-in hybrid power. Most models are front-wheel drive, but some – including the high-performance AMG models – have four-wheel drive.

What's the interior like?

“The latest CLA features lots of great tech and high-quality materials.”

The Mercedes-Benz CLA feels luxurious and has a low seating position for a sporty vibe. The steering wheel is chunky and all the materials you see and touch have a high-quality feel. The infotainment systems looks great and is generally easy to use.

There's lots of space in the front seats, and legroom in the back seats is also pretty good. The coupe-like roofline does limit headroom in the back seats and make getting in and out a bit trickier, however.

The boot is large for a car of this size, with a capacity of 460 litres (395 litres for the plug-in hybrid model) for the four-door and 505 litres (454 litres for the plug-in hybrid) for the Shooting Brake.

What's it like to drive?

“Enjoyable to drive and a good choice of engines.”

The CLA is good to drive, with a mildly sporty feel. The suspension is on the firm side so you do feel bumps a bit more than in some cars but the ride is generally smooth and the CLA combines agility with comfort pretty well. The CLA35 and CLA45 AMG models have changes to the suspension and steering – they are sportier still and compare very well against rival cars for fun behind the wheel.

Engines range from fuel-efficient diesels to the plug-in hybrid 250e and the very powerful AMG models. Performance ranges from 'nippy enough' to 'very fast', with the most popular models giving good acceleration and decent fuel economy. Manual and automatic versions are available, while some versions also have four-wheel drive.

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

“Competitive running costs but not cheap to buy.”

Prices for the Mercedes-Benz CLA are similar to those of the Audi A3 saloon and BMW 2 Series so while it's far from cheap it's reasonable value considering the premium feel and equipment levels you get for the money.

The diesels engines give excellent fuel economy but most petrol versions are impressively fuel-efficient too. Inevitably, the AMG models don't get such good mpg but fuel economy isn't bad for such quick cars.

The 250e plug-in hybrid can give you just over 50 miles of pure-electric power with a fully charged battery, according to official figures, which is very impressive and could be enough for your daily commute.

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Which one is best for you?

The diesel engines are popular and give excellent fuel economy but the petrol engines are quieter and smoother, which arguably suits the CLA's sleek looks better.

The high-performance AMG models are outrageously fast and a lot of fun but cost considerably more to buy and run.