It is not often that you see a premium car manufacturer going full throttle rolling out new cars every month but then there is Mercedes-Benz. They have already launched an army of cars in last couple of months and now they are back again with a new offering.
The recently launched Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is priced at Rs.31.50 lakh (ESR – Delhi). Even though it sits at the starting of the sedan range, it will offer almost same level of equipment as seen on more expensive iterations. It has the looks which can make starlets feel jealous. The company claims to have fine tuned the sedan after seeking inspiration from its F1 Motorsports division.
We have heard only good and nothing else about the CLA. Being a curious bunch, we did have our own set of unanswered questions and thus we got into one to find out more. Here is our first impression report of Mercedes-Benz CLA Class.
Mercedes has been on a rampage of refreshing it cars to bring them in line with the new overarching design philosophy that will define its cars for the foreseeable future. And the latest to receive this treatment is its most affordable sedan, the CLA.
Don’t feel bad if you have to squint your eyes and scratch your head to figure out how exactly this car is different. The changes, admittedly, are very subtle. The only changes up front are new headlamps, now full LED with its modules in the company-standard ‘leaf’ design, and a light redesigning of the bumper with a new chin-mounted chrome insert. In profile, the changes are nil, even retaining the same 17-inch alloy wheel design, and round the back, the only novelties are re-profiled taillights and a differently shaped chrome strip between the differently styled exhaust tips.
Not that the CLA needs too many cosmetic changes – it looks rather swanky as is, with that bold face, swooping roof, muscular character lines and neat tush. This refresh, as explained, is more a move to bring the CLA in line with the rest of the Merc family rather than actually shaking things up in order to boost sales numbers; still, it’s worth noting that Mercedes has shrewdly beaten rival Audi to the market, with the A3 facelift expected only sometime next yea
The first thing you will notice as you open the doors is frameless windows, which lend it a lot of elegance. Once inside the car, it is very Mercedes. Turbine-like air vents, wide dashboard with a 3D design and sporty dials look impressive. But the best thing in the cabin is the unique sports seats with integrated headrest. The dashboard gets a colour screen for the COMAND computer; however, the screen slightly obstructs your view of the road, especially if you are short (even after considering the fact that the CLA gets height-adjustable powered seats).
The information display gives fuel-efficiency figures in the more convenient “km per litre” rather than “litres per 100 km”, as is the case with many other luxury cars.
Because the wheelbase of the CLA is 62 mm longer than Audi A3, there is comparatively more legroom at the rear; however, due to the sloping roofline, the headroom comes at a premium. The rear portion of the front seats is scooped out for additional knee-room—an intelligent touch. The car is loaded with equipment—panoramic sunroof, web browsing via Bluetooth, GPS navigation, reverse camera, Harman Kardon music system and more. The boot space is 470 litres but its usability is limited because of the spare tyre strapped to the floor
There are two engines to choose from under the hood of the CLA. One petrol and one diesel. The 2-litre petrol is more for the enthusiast. The turbocharged, 4-cylinder unit develops 183PS of max power and can propel the Mercedes CLA from 0-100kmph in less than 8 seconds and onto a top speed of 235kmph.
The diesel, which is meant more for relaxed cruising, is the same 2.1-litre, 4-cylinder engine we have experienced on a whole range of Mercedes models in India. For the CLA, it is tuned to deliver 135PS and 300Nm. But the diesel is a noisy engine. It is noisy at start up, at idle and when when you rev it. One can also feel vibrations inside the cabin via the floor. The petrol on the other hand is quieter and more refined. It is also quicker and more involving to drive.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
The suspension can tackle most craters on our roads without taking a beating but the ride is a bit on the stiffer side. The ground clearance of 160 mm is decent enough but you might have to tackle some nasty speed breakers sideways. The steering is light at low speeds. Once the speeds increase, you can feel it weighing up. However, we would have liked the feedback to be slightly better. A trait common with Mercs, the brakes are brilliant and the CLA does no drama on hard braking. It is also very aerodynamic and this stability during high-speed straight line runs and aggressive cornering is splendid.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class includes stability and traction control, antilock brakes, a driver knee airbag, front-seat side thorax airbags, front-seat side pelvic airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. A forward collision warning system with automatic braking and a drowsy driver warning system are also standard; they are optional or not available on most other luxury cars. Also included is the Mercedes-Benz Mbrace2 emergency communications system that includes automatic collision notification, an emergency call button, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle recovery.
The optional Driver Assistance package adds a blind-spot monitoring system (available separately) and lane departure warning and intervention. It also raises the speed threshold for the forward collision warning system.
If you don’t currently plan on buying a CLA, the refresh is unlikely to change your mind. However, with C-class prices nudging and even crossing the Rs 50 lakh mark, the CLA has become more convincing as the entry-point sedan for those who crave the three-pointed-star badge in their garage, offering a bit more prestige and practicality than the A-class and B-class hatchbacks. You get great looks (though some Merc purists might find them slightly over the top), appreciable performance and Merc’s signature safety and comfort levels. It feels premium and well-built on the inside, sporty from behind the wheel and attention-grabbing on the outside.