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2019 Mercedes CLA Review: What's New and What to Expect


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The compact luxury market has exploded in recent years with new models from established manufacturers and new marques hitting the market. Mercedes-Benz is no exception to this trend and has unveiled a new generation CLA for the foreseeable future. With prices ranging from $30,000 to $44,000, the CLA competes against models such as the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and even smaller premium brands like the Volvo S60. As a result of its positioning between entry-level offerings from other manufacturers and more expensive models like the C-Class or BMW 1-series, it's not hard to see why these cars have captured such a significant proportion of that segment. The Mercedes-Benz CLA debuted in late 2015 as a replacement for the previous C-Class offering and will be replaced by an all-new model in late 2019. The new car will be built on the new Compact Modular Automotive architecture (CMAA) platform shared with several upcoming vehicles including the next GLC model and various performance variants of the S-Class coupe and convertible. The current generation CLA is offered in both saloon and estate body styles with power coming from either a range of naturally aspirated petrol or diesel engines paired with an automatic transmission or manual gearbox option. That ends here! Read on for our full review of this top quality small family car.

New 2018 Mercedes CLA Specs

If you've been keeping track of the latest CLA model's updates, you'll know that Mercedes has stopped updating the CLA for the U.S. market several months ago. As a result, this review focuses on the European-spec 2018 Mercedes CLA 250 4Matic model that is offered with both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive trim levels across the W212 and W213 model years. The base CLA 250 uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, while the CLA 250 4Matic model uses the same engine but with a variable exhaust system to make it more satisfying to drive with a continuously variable gear ratio for the exhaust system. The CLA 250 4Matic model is offered in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive forms with the range topping AMG CLA 45 4Matic model also available. Transmission options consist of a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox with or without a manual function on the automatic transmission.

2018 Mercedes CLA Review - Ride and Handling

Like the CLA that came before it, the current generation CLA is a quiet and comfortable high-riding compact. It's not going to be mistaken for a luxury car, but it's certainly not going to be lumped in with cheaper small cars like the Nissan Micra or Mazda2. To drive, it has a quality feel, with a smooth and solid chassis that's not going to be exaggerated by harsh road surfaces. Ride quality is good and on most surfaces, it handles well. It's certainly not going to challenge sports cars for handling but it's not going to be overly embarrassed by more mundane roads either. It's comfortable, predictable and a great car to drive around town or to and from work. It doesn't have the refinement of a more expensive car, but it doesn't feel as if it's going to be too noisy or has any excessive body lean when driving. It's a great, easy-to-drive compact car that makes a satisfying noise when you put your foot down.

2018 Mercedes CLA Review - Interior and Exterior

Interior quality is high and the CLA's cabin has a quality feel. Controls are logically arranged and Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system is intuitive and easy to use. There are plenty of safety features such as driver aid functions, a semi-autonomous braking system, and an impressive (and scalable) system to protect pedestrians from vehicles. As with the exterior, Mercedes has updated the CLA's cabin with high-quality materials and tasteful design features. Both the CLA's front and rear seats are comfortable, with a decent amount of room for both front and rear passengers. Cargo capacity is rated at 15.5 cubic feet and there are numerous storage solutions available, including a glove compartment-mounted tray that can be used to store items such as a water bottle. The CLA's exterior is attractive, with a sleek shape that looks good from both the front and rear. It's available in a variety of colors and there are a number of optional features such as 18-inch alloy wheels and automatic high-beam headlight control.

2018 Mercedes CLA Review - Conclusion

The CLA may not be the most exciting or exotic Mercedes-Benz model, but it's a great choice for those who want a high-quality compact that offers a high degree of comfort and refinement for a reasonable price. For example, the CLA 250 with its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission is priced from $30,890, while the AMG CLA 45 4Matic with its 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 and eight-speed automatic costs $89,345. This kind of pricing puts the CLA in direct competition with more expensive models by Volvo, BMW and even Audi, which dominate the luxury compact segment. If you're looking for a high-quality compact family car, you'll find few better examples than the Mercedes-Benz CLA.

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