• 2015
  • 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class


in Upscale Midsize Cars

MSRP: $29,900 - $47,450
Invoice: $27,807 - $44,129
MPG: 26 City / 38 Hwy
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Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Performance

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is agile on a winding road and powerful enough for daily driving duties, according to reviewers. They agree the high-performance CLA45 AMG is more fun to drive thanks to its potent engine, and they say that it effortlessly hugs the bends in the road, especially when you drive passionately. 

  • "The takeaway from our brief time in the CLA was that while this Mercedes might be lean in the pricing department, it was flush with accoutrements that clearly transmit the vibe that comes with driving a 'Benz." -- Left Lane News
  • "Does this feel like a Mercedes-Benz? Yes. It also feels like a front-wheel-drive car, but we have a feeling that people looking to put the CLA in their driveway won't care. From the column shift lever to the accurate steering, the CLA is familiar to anybody who has driven its larger siblings." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The standard CLA250 delivers solid, predictable handling via a front-wheel-drive platform, which is a first-time offering for North American Mercedes-Benz buyers. While the available 4Matic version delivers sportier, more balanced handling, the AMG version takes full advantage of the 4Matic's all-wheel-drive layout to pump more oopmh onto the road via all four wheels." -- AutoTrader
  • "Part of the CLA's athletic character comes from the quick-shifting automated manual transmission, which offers three driver-adjustable shift patterns and a manual shift mode via its steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 CLA250 has a 208-horsepower, turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. High-performance CLA45 AMG models have a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder AMG engine that makes 355 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 332 pound-feet of torque at 2,250 to 5,000 rpm. AMG models have a seven-speed AMG Speedshift dual clutch transmission and can hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. Both CLA-Class models have a start-stop feature, which shuts the engine off when the car is stopped to conserve fuel. The EPA estimates that the CLA250 will get 26/38 mpg city/highway, which is excellent for a non-hybrid upscale midsize car, while the CLA45 AMG should achieve 23/31 mpg.

Test drivers say that while the CLA250’s acceleration won’t throw you back in your seat, its power is sufficient for most driving situations. They recommend the CLA45 AMG for its abundant power if you want a more exhilarating driving experience. Most critics say the seven-speed dual clutch transmission delivers power quickly when needed. However, some note that it’s hesitant to downshift at times, especially when driving enthusiastically, and that its shifts are a bit rough in city driving.

  • "The turbocharged 4-cylinder engine produces a mild 208 horsepower, but that's enough grunt to help the CLA feel peppy under most circumstances, thanks in part to the well-chosen ratios of its crisp shifting 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Hardcore enthusiasts should find their bliss in the CLA45 AMG, which packs a serious wallop with its 360-horsepower engine, stiffer suspension and standard all-wheel drive." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic defaults to an efficiency mode when the car is turned on, and it has a preference for high gears and is reluctant to downshift. It's not a problem during normal driving, but on adrenaline-inducing roads it's necessary to switch to sport mode or shift using the steering wheel paddles." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The biggest concern we saw on paper with the CLA was the puny four-cylinder engine. In my mind, it behooves Mercedes to stay clear of such nonsense and focus on power plants of grandeur. But my concerns vanished with one stomp of the accelerator. The engine doesn't make big power, but it makes good grunt throughout the rev range with no lag and plenty of pull all the time." -- Road and Track
  • "Power from the diminutive turbocharged 4-cylinder doesn't feel explosive or untamed but smooth and progressive, with a strong urgency thanks to the flexibility of the 7-speed gearbox. The transmission tends to be jerky during stop-and-go traffic, though its adaptive tuning seemed to soften up gear shifts when we simmered our driving style down. As with many performance-focused gearboxes, harder driving yields quicker shifts, which makes the CLA45 feel more in its element when it's being driven like it was stolen." -- AutoTrader

Handling and Braking

The 2014 CLA250 is front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is standard on CLA45 AMG models and available on CLA250 models. Test drivers say the CLA250 is nimble on a winding road, and they agree the high-performance CLA45 AMG is very confident and secure when driven enthusiastically. Reviewers say the CLA-Class’ brakes are powerful, and while most think the steering is well-weighted, others wish it provided more road feel. Several critics caution that the CLA-Class has a harsh ride on bumpy roads, though they agree that it delivers a comfortable ride on the highway.

  • "While the suspension felt stiff and noncompliant on bumpy city roads, the glassy smooth tarmac of the Parkway revealed responsive handling and impressive grip." -- AutoTrader
  • "Steering and braking feel first-rate. The front-drive 250 lacks the sprightly feel it likely would have if it were rear-drive. The AMG version has AWD standard, giving it a more-balanced feel." -- USA Today
  • "There's a distinct lack of torque steer when jetting off from a stop, though the tires did slip some. The helm has a stout, progressive weightiness to it, but struggles to clearly communicate the nuances of the passing road." -- Motor Trend
  • "And the fun continues as the roads twist. The chassis reacts to steering inputs immediately, the body stays flat, and tires grip quite well. We bet the CLA would shock more than a couple of folks at an autocross competition." -- Road and Track
  • "Push the CLA hard into a corner and it responds willingly, but steering with the drive wheels eventually reaches a limit that results in mild understeer. We also sampled the 4Matic all-wheel-drive CLA, which sends power to the rear wheels as needed, and found it more eager to jump out of hairpins and more stable though high-speed corners." -- Popular Mechanics
Review Last Updated: 5/13/14

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