2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

CLA250 FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4 auto trans

2014 mercedes-benz cla-class Reviews and News

College Cars 24 2014 Mercedes Benz Cla45 Amg Front Three Quarter
Mercedes-Benz is recognized as a maker of some of the industry’s most refined and luxurious automobiles. So what happens when performance division AMG goes wild on the company’s new economy-platform sedan? We’re sure happy we got a chance to find out.
There’s no use trying to establish a raison d’etre for the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG, the hopped-up, high-performance version of the German automaker’s popular new entry-level sedan. It’s not as complete a performance car as the outgoing C63 AMG, it lacks the effortless luxury character of other Mercedes-Benz offerings, and with optional equipment it quickly escalates to twice the price of the relative-bargain $30,000 CLA250.
So why can’t we stop thinking about driving the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG? Because it makes us feel reckless and alive.

Arrogance of youth

As the little brother in the AMG lineup, the 2014 CLA45 AMG compensates like only a younger sibling can. It wants to be noticed while zipping around town with its aggressive aero package, contrasting black 19-inch wheels with red-painted calipers, and sexy LED taillights. Starting at $48,375, the CLA45 AMG is intended for younger buyers, or maybe simply those with neither the budget limits, refined taste, nor self-control to steer clear of something so brash. But we’ve all felt the itch to break the mold, and this compact AMG-modified Benz is a hell of a way to misbehave.

Living it up while behind the wheel

From nose to trunk, AMG tweaks every inch of the CLA for more performance. The cockpit glows with red and black trim (the black stuff is carbon fiber), and the driving position beckons with Recaro bucket seats detailed in aluminum and a flat-bottom steering wheel with a beefy rim. Get hyped at a stop light by revving up the 355-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine in neutral for an instant, and savor every absurd crack and pop as the tachometer needle falls back down across the dial.
This small car's exhaust talks a big game, but the 2014 CLA45 AMG can walk the walk, too. In Sport mode the CLA45 launches with gusto, sending the hopped-up four-pot’s maximum 332 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels at as few as 2250 rpm. And you can fully wring out the four-cylinder turbo on your daily commute, while the other AMG cars with their powerful V-8s really only come alive on an autobahn or a track.

Baby Benz with AMG attitude

While the larger, similarly styled CLS63 AMG makes you feel elegant and stylish, the nimble little CLA45 makes you act like a buffoon. Think of it as the Subaru WRX STI in an Armani suit. It’s thrilling to weave through traffic while flicking the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission from gear to gear with the nicely weighted shift paddle and listening to the turbo spit fury with gear change.
Who could resist? Certainly not us. During our time with the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG, we managed our quickest commute yet to our new Detroit office. We think this speaks volumes not just for the CLA45's performance, but also what it does to drivers the second the road opens up. Whether you’re 25, 35, or 45, you’ll feel forever young in this bad-ass baby Benz.

2014 Mercedes CLA45 AMG

Base price: $48,375
As-tested price: $57,165
Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve I-4/355 hp @ 6000 rpm, 332 lb-ft @ 2250 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Layout: Four-door, five-passenger, front-engine, all-wheel drive
L x W x H: 184.7 in x 70 in x 55.7 in
EPA Mileage: 23/31 mpg (city/highway)
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Weight: 3,494 lb
2014 Mercedes Benz CLA 45 AMG Front Three Quarters In Motion 03
Bad Driburg, Germany
A petite two liters, a pumped 26.1 pounds of boost, 355 horses -- the engine specs of the 2014 Mercedes CLA45 AMG conjure vivid images of short fuse, Evo-style turbo upchuck.
The Mercedes is nothing like that. It's also nothing like the eight-cylinder C63 AMG, the closest Benz currently gets to speed-jacked juvenilia.
Oh, the CLA45 AMG is fast all right. A Race Start function and all-wheel hookup conspires to slay 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds. Top speed is the familiar electronic curfew of 155 mph, or 250 kph, which the Mercedes efficiently translated during a German autobahn blitz from Hannover.
But if you can even imagine a subtle 355-horsepower compact, the CLA 45 is it. And that's exactly how the AMG brain trust wanted it.
"There's still a star on the front of the AMG," says Marco Witzel, program manager of the CLA45 and the Europe-only A45 AMG hatchback. "We decided not to build a car that's screaming all the time."
Steady streams of torque, do-it-all electric steering, and a discreet seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic add up to another AMG that makes mincemeat of curves and speed limits -- but with express efficiency, rather than the yippee-ki-yay of the rear-drive C63.
The engine's Guinness-level achievement is already documented: The most powerful production four-cylinder in automotive history makes 177.5 horsepower per liter. A single turbocharger helps achieve those improbable heights -- along with 332 pound-feet of torque -- squeezing hot exhaust gas with the signature efficiency of its twin-scroll design.
As ever, a lone AMG craftsman assembles this M133 engine and its Piezo fuel injectors, forged pistons and crankshaft. With up to five fuel sprays per cycle, the engine already meets 2017 Euro 6 emissions regulations.
An engine stop/start system saves fuel, as does routing power to front wheels only in standard operation. Bossed by a wheelslip-sensing electronic brain, the rear differential's electro-hydraulic clutch grabs the spinning two-part propshaft to steal up to 50 percent of torque for rear wheels. That handoff is managed by a lightweight power takeoff unit (PTU) integrated in the front-mounted transmission. In practice, the lightning-fast AWD system completes the standard CLA's transformation: No amount of throttle mashing can elicit a trace of front wheelspin or torque steer. Drive power is also diverted to tame oversteer or understeer, prior to intervention from the three-stage stability system. The latter includes a Sport Handling mode that sends more power sternward and judiciously taps rear brakes to help rotate the car.
Mercedes claims shift times on par with the SLS AMG supercar, though the dual-clutch box can still feel laggardly in automatic mode. In an upgrade from the standard CLA, the "M" manual mode precludes automatic upshifting. And a "double declutch" function instantly cuts ignition and fuel to produce welcome, yet incongruous exhaust backfires when downshifting the tiny engine.
From within, the engine note is cloaked and surprisingly deep-pitched for a four-cylinder. From outside the car, a dual-flap Sport Exhaust releases a generous dose of gassy burp and brap, especially in its extra-cost Performance guise.
Re-engineered MacPherson front and four-link rear suspensions include stiffer steering knuckles, unique bushings, added negative camber, firmer springs and dampers and enlarged anti-roll bars. The rear subframe directly mounts to the bodyshell. An even-stiffer AMG Performance Suspension is an upgrade.
That speed-sensitive steering also automatically counters oversteer and corrects during braking on dual-coefficient surfaces. Mighty AMG brakes, cross-drilled and vented, feature fire engine-red calipers, four-piston up front and single-piston rear. Eighteen inch alloys are standard, with 19-inchers optional, including a fine matte-black set.
Starting from a basic CLA250 that's already more scalloped and striking than the larger C-class, the AMG makeover -- including Xenon headlamps and the usual array of exterior and interior jewelry -- only amplifies the CLA's voluptuous appeal.
The rippling hood and abyss-deep air inlets, the plunging roofline, the teasing arabesque of the taillamps -- it's all so handsomely rendered as to make one overlook the CLA's practical sacrifices. The limbo-low roof hampers entry and exit, and creates a sarcophagus-like view from the sculpted back seats.
Optional performance buckets, red-striped and ready to accept racing harnesses, are as aggressively firm as anything Benz has done. Either version is wrapped in "man-made leather," one suggestion that the roughly $17,500 premium over a CLA250 -- with the AMG on sale in November at $48,375 -- was applied more to performance than perks.
That performance came alive at the freshly opened Bilster Berg Drive Resort in Bad Driburg. Designed by renowned Formula 1 track architect Hermann Tilke, the forest-ringed track features 19 turns, with cool names like Mutkurve, or Courage Corner, and Mausfalle, the Mousetrap. With 44 hillcrests, several blind corners, and 200 meters of elevation change, this mini Nurbürgring brings die Puckerfactor in a big way.
We spent more than 20 delightful laps chasing a pro-driven SLS, and the CLA 45 revealed itself as an agile, legitimate track tool. First, this pocket Hercules weighs 3,494 pounds, about 400 pounds lighter than an Audi S4, and 320 lighter than a BMW 335xi. And the AMG carries more horsepower and torque than either.
Mercedes swears on a stack of Gutenbergs that the CLA45, guided by an AMG Academy pilot, lost just four seconds a lap to the brutish SLS -- a supercar with more than three times the displacement -- through Bilster Berg's 4.2-kilometer amusement park.
That seemed about right. Powering through a thrilling off-camber downhill, the CLA45 virtually matched the SLS' sheer grip as both cars tracked out to the candy-striped curbing. Driven harder, the CLA's rear-wheel assists came into relief, allowing swift, fearless recoveries from neutral slides. And the brakes are fantastic, showing less fade over hours of abuse than in chunkier AMGs such as the E63.
Torque peaks and holds between 2,250 and 5,000 rpm, but a driver must work to keep the CLA in its steroid-pumped sweet spot; Mercedes claims the engine maxes out at 6,700 rpm, but 6,300 was more like it in real-world operation.
If the standard, 208-horsepower CLA already seems the year's runaway choice for spoiled young people from Laguna Beach to Greenwich -- with generous parents backing some of those monthly payments -- the AMG version is for up-and-comers with more cash than regular Joes can imagine.
Mercedes sees the CLA45 as the gateway to AMG for ages roughly 30 to 45, its youngest customers yet. Certainly, it's harder to see a typical 50-something AMG buyer drooling after this pint-sized chew toy; those buyers likely favor a roomier, more prestigious E-Class, CLS, what have you.
Mario Spitzner, marketing chief of Mercedes' high-performance arm, joked that AMG "used to use four-cylinder engines to run windshield wipers."
But that was before anyone could imagine 355 horsepower from a Honda-sized powerplant. Now, that four-cylinder CLA will help run AMG's lineup to a heady 30 models by 2017, the brand's 50th anniversary -- and to a 30,000 global sales target, up from 20,000 today.
As AMG’s most affordable joy ride, don’t be surprised if the CLA45 carries its weight.

2014 Mercedes CLA45 AMG

On Sale: November
Base Price: $48,375
Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve I-4
Horsepower: 355 @6,000 rpm
Torque: 332 lb-ft @2,250-5,000 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Drive: All-wheel
L x W x H: 184.7 in x 70 in x 55.7 in
Headroom F/R: 37 in, 35.6 in
Legroom F/R: TBD
Cargo capacity: 12.4 cu ft
Curb weight: 3,494 lb
Fuel Economy: Not yet rated
2014 Mercedes Benz CLA250 Front Right View
After years of selling cloth-seat, stick-shift, diesel-powered E-class and C-class taxicabs and front-wheel-drive A-class hatchbacks in Western Europe and spending nine long years trying to run Chrysler as its commodity brand for North America, Mercedes-Benz is back in the affordable-luxury game. The new CLA-class, which is due in U.S. showrooms in September as the 208-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder CLA250, will start at $30,000.
We drove the CLA side by side with the gullwing SLS AMG Black Series that, at roughly $275,000, sits at the top of the Mercedes lineup, some quarter-million dollars more than the CLA. That vast price spread might seem surprising, but Mercedes has historically had a wide price range for its models. When the very first Gullwing went on sale in Max Hoffman's Manhattan showroom in 1955, it cost $7463. In the same showroom, you could buy a new "Ponton" Benz 180 for $3395, which was $582 less than the base price of a Cadillac Series 62 sedan and just a few dollars more than Buick's top-of-the-line sedan, the $3349 Roadmaster.
The 180 was not Mercedes' first attempt at a commodity model. The rear-engine 130 of 1934 was a "people's car," predating the Volkswagen Type 1 (Beetle). More recently, Americans could buy Baby Benz 190 sedans in the mid-1980s and the original black-bumper late-1990s M-class sport-utility.
Beginning this fall, you'll again be able to buy a Mercedes with cloth seats (on the CLA launch edition). The CLA250 is our first transverse-engine, front-wheel-drive Mercedes. The base price is $30,825, but stripping out the $925 destination charge means it can be advertised at just under the magic $30,000 bar. Mercedes calls the CLA-class its "baby CLS." It's based on the new A-class, a not-for-U.S. hatchback. With swoopy, aerodynamic, low-roof bodywork, the CLA is longer than the current C-class.
The 2015 Mercedes C-class launching next year, though, will grow by about four inches overall and will have a two-inch-longer wheelbase. The C-class remains rear-wheel drive and the sedan will be more upright, a Mercedes for families. The CLA's coupelike styling makes the rear seat an occasional place for adults, and so the car targets "prefamily" and "postfamily" buyers. Using the short dash-to-axle FWD layout on a compact car makes for better proportions than on a larger car.
The A-class platform and front-wheel-drive layout keep the costs down, and it's clear that Mercedes considered whether each component and feature fit the cost parameters. Forget about the long-abandoned Mercedes philosophy of building cars to a standard, not a price.
"We are not a welfare organization," says Daimler chairman and head of Mercedes cars Dieter Zetsche, answering a question about the U.S. market and its tighter profit margins. While Mercedes won't import the less-expensive A-class hatchback, which would have to reach down into the mid-$20,000s here, potentially the most pop- ular model off the platform will be the up-coming GLA-class crossover, which will probably start in the mid-$30,000s.
CLA-class competitors include the Honda Civic–based Acura ILX and well-equipped versions of the Buick Verano. There's even some overlap with the Ford Focus Titanium. Closer competition will come from the new sedan version of the Audi A3, due early next year, and a front-wheel-drive BMW 1-series sedan. (The 1-series coupe will remain rear-wheel drive and will be rebadged as the 2-series.)
Mercedes-Benzes are heavily influenced by Ingolstadt, where Audi is based, and by Munich, home of BMW HQ, while Stuttgart, Mercedes-Benz territory, similarly shapes Audi and BMW products. Although it's hard to say which German brand started the rush to develop commodity-luxury fleets, it hasn't been long since Audi was a notch below Mercedes and BMW in prestige and price. Its B5-chassis A4 that debuted for 1996 became a favorite step-up from mainstream brands for consumers who wanted something nicer and more interesting, which is exactly what the new A3 sedan, 1-series, and CLA-class want to be.
From the $30,000 CLA-class to the 622-hp, $275,000 gull-wing SLS AMG Black Series, Mercedes-Benz has more product breadth than General Motors' Spark-to-ZR1 Chevrolet division. The SLS is the first Mercedes designed and built by the AMG performance arm, which has been wholly owned by Mercedes since 2005. AMG has undergone its own democratization, offering highly juiced, handbuilt engines and stiffened suspensions up and down the product lineup. The CLA45 AMG comes to the States about two months after the CLA250, with a 355-hp, twin-scroll-turbo 2.0-liter and standard all-wheel drive for $48,375. A single production engineer will hand-build each CLA45 engine, just like the V-8 in the SLS Black Series.
AMG allows Mercedes to avoid trying to convince enthusiast media and enthusiast buyers that its non-AMG models are sport sedans. Non-AMG Mercedes models are cushy luxury cars for people who want a comfortable, safe, and serene ride to work or cross-country. If it's true that roughly ten percent of the car-buying population are enthusiasts, and this statistic extends to young buyers, luxury and style are all the CLA250 needs.
Conversely, the C63 AMG Black Series, and now the SLS AMG Black Series, are track cars that can also easily be driven on the road. The minimum price you might pay to buy a CLA45 is almost equal to what it would cost to upgrade from an "ordinary" SLS to the Black Series, which has 39 more horses and 154 fewer pounds compared with the SLS AMG GT. Built to a standard and not a price, the SLS AMG Black Series keeps the three-pointed star in the CLA's grille real.
Since the Great Recession, credit has tightened, prices have risen, and it seems that the automobile is becoming a luxury item just like it was more than a century ago. A luxury line with the breadth of Chevrolet is rational under these conditions. Competition is boiling over among German luxury brands, even as Cadillac tries to get back in the game. At the end of the day, it's going to be easier for Mercedes to trickle down from SLS AMG Black Series through the new S-class, the E-class, and to the CLA than it will be for commodity brands like Ford and Hyundai to attract buyers in the $35,000-to-$60,000 aspirational-luxury segments.
First Drive: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250
Is it a real Mercedes?
Saint-Tropez, France
Before we answer that question, it must be noted that drivetrain smoothness is where the CLA's credibility most comes into question. The 208-hp, 258 lb-ft turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder has significant lag at launch and some acceleration dead spots in the mid and upper rev ranges. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is of the wet-clutch variety, so it's relatively smooth, but it wants to stay in the upper gears as long as possible. The CLA250 has a column-mounted electronic shifter to save center-console space for cupholders, while the 355-hp CLA45 AMG, on sale in November -- two months after the front-wheel-drive CLA250 -- will come with a console shifter for its seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
2014 Mercedes Benz CLA250 Rear Right Side View
Our test cars all had the sport package, which includes a lower-body trim kit and eighteen-inch AMG wheels. Mercedes figures the wheels will be popular, but they're responsible for a bit of ride-impact harshness. The front-wheel-drive model displays mild understeer on twisty roads. The car is reasonably quiet, and because the doors have frameless windows, you can open all of them without any annoying buffeting. At highway speeds, some wind noise comes off the mirrors and there is some road-and-tire noise.
All U.S. CLAs have the sport suspension; the comfort-oriented setup is reserved for Europeans. Mercedes says chassis tuning doesn't vary from FWD to 4Matic, and if the 4Matic mitigates understeer, it's subtle. You can feel the rear wheels pushing oh so slightly when exiting fast turns, but none of the turns on our drive were fast enough to really explore this. The FWD model had no perceptible torque steer.
With no sport-sedan pretensions, the CLA is a relaxed, comfortable four-door coupe, a "baby CLS" with the drive wheels switched. It's a much better prospect at $33,000 or $34,000 than one approaching the psychologically lofty $40,000 level, and Mercedes promises dealer lots will have more of the former than the latter. The Edition 1 launch package includes funky yellow-striped black seats and yellow interior stitching, including on the dashboard, where it glares onto the windshield. "Brushed chrome" plastic dash accents and the bright chrome-plastic vent rings are below par.
Collision Prevention Assist is standard, and standalone options include blind-spot assist, a panoramic sunroof, and leather seats. A Becker Map Pilot is the entry-level navigation system; a multimedia package upgrades the navi and its screen size and function sophistication and adds a backup camera. The camera should be standard as, like other four-door coupes, the CLA has poor rearward visibility.
Even though the CLA comes up short on drivetrain and ride-quality refinement, and even if you cover up the steering wheel's chrome-star emblem and ignore the seat-shaped power-seat controls on the driver's side, you won't mistake this for anything other than a Mercedes-Benz. Doors thunk closed with that certain authority, and the car takes to high speeds with the stableness and solidity of a much heavier tank of a car -- or simply, a tank. The CLA250 will not be the enthusiast's first choice, but he or she shouldn't hesitate to recommend it to that friend who always has wanted, but couldn't afford, a Mercedes.
ON SALE: September
PRICE: $30,825/$37,000 (base/est. as tested)
ENGINE: 2.0L turbo I-4, 208 hp, 258 lb-ft
DRIVE: Front- or 4-wheel
FUEL MILEAGE: 23/32 mpg (est.)
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series and SLS AMG Electric Drive
Is the electric SLS the ultimate in sports car prestige?
Circuit Paul Ricard has miles of runoff. Who's afraid of 622 hp? Who's going to notice if you're the one to overcook it in a corner and spin into that runoff?
2014 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Black Series And Electric Drive
If my few laps in the SLS AMG Black Series were spirited, they were far from the quickest for the day. Here's what I learned: the Black Series is no high-strung Lamborghini, in that it's easy to drive. You quickly and intuitively perceive the handling dynamics. The car willingly rotates its tail, but the invisible hand of stability control is ready to keep you from embarrassing yourself. The car feels light on its gummy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s. AMG shortened the engine's runner rings and optimized cam timing, ignition angle, and the connecting rods for higher cylinder pressure. The special tuning cuts maximum torque by 11 lb-ft, to just 468. Horsepower now peaks at 7400 rpm, versus 6800, and the engine redlines at eight grand, up from 7200 rpm.
A carbon-fiber torque tube, a titanium exhaust, and a lithium-ion starter battery help shave 154 pounds off the SLS GT, saving 0.1 second for a 3.5-second 0-to-60-mph run, although the top speed is 1 mph slower, at 196 mph. Must be the downforce from that rear wing. Only about 100 Black Series cars will come to America.
A few laps reveal how light the nose and tail can get. This handling quality encourages early and abrupt braking. The sheer power of the engine and the car's relatively large size prompt a conservative approach to learning the circuit's line.
How to explain, then, the heavier, more powerful SLS AMG Electric Drive? Its battery pack powers the four wheels through four electric motors that in total produce 740 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. Top speed is limited to 155 mph, and with more than 900 extra pounds over the standard SLS GT, the 0-to-62-mph time is about 0.2 second slower, at 3.9 seconds.
In Comfort mode, the SLS ED yaws and understeers like an S-class. Switch to Sport plus, and the four electric-powered wheels "torque-vector" the car through turns. Balance the car correctly, and you can steer it quite effectively with the accelerator. Paddle shifters control the level of brake regeneration. An electric "exhaust" note plays a synthetic hum that sounds like a low key on an electric piano, but I prefer the natural whirr. A high-speed, 22-kW home charger needs just three hours to fully juice it up; a conventional charge takes twenty hours.
AMG says the car has a 150-mile range; much less if you flog it. It won't come to the United States because its special structure won't meet our crash standards. The SLS AMG Electric Drive easily matches the Black Series in power, handling, and driving enjoyment. This car, and not the V-8-powered SLS, is the true flagship of the quickly expanding Mercedes-Benz line.
SLS AMG Black Series
PRICE: $275,000 (est.)
ENGINE: 6.2L V-8, 622 hp, 468 lb-ft
DRIVE: Rear-wheel
FUEL MILEAGE: 13/19 mpg (est.)
SLS AMG Electric Drive
June (in Europe)
PRICE: $535,000 (in Europe, est.)
MOTORS: Four permanent-magnet, 740 hp, 738 lb-ft
DRIVE: 4-wheel
RANGE: 150 miles
Design Analysis
Mercedes claims for its CLA the lowest drag coefficient (as low as 0.22, or 0.23 for U.S. imports) of any car in production today, a feat accomplished without any outlandish shape complications. This handsome four-door is quite conservative in overall presentation, which is in perfect accord with the desires of the firm's traditional clientele. Yet a close examination of the car gives little reason to doubt its low-drag qualities, despite very large openings on the lower front corners -- openings that are for the most part closed to air flowing through. Compare this "real-looking" design to some past exercises such as Pininfarina's 1978 CNR "banana" concept. Very impressive. - Robert Cumberford
2014 Mercedes Benz CLA250 Front Left Side View
1 Twinkly grille buttons recall both late-1950s Buicks and the A-class concep car from two years ago, really the only flashy aspect of the total design.
2 High, rounded centerline profile of the hood meets pedestrian safety standards while disturbing the air as little as possible.
3 Windshield is considerably inset, letting the A-pillars act as flow straighteners to force maximum air mass over the roof.
4 The profile of the roof is an elegant arc, rather like the never-developed Nissan "Arc" concept cars a couple of decades back.
5 This subtle rib indicates a separate rear fender and helps keep air flowing linearly, likely reducing wake turbulence.
6 Rear wheel openings are perfectly circular, quite tight to the tires to reduce potential turbulence.
7 Attention to the bottom perimeter of the body reduces the visual height of the body sides and avoids bar-of-soap simplicity often used to reduce drag.
8 These two sharp surface breaks outline an incomplete cove loop, the upper line trailing from the headlamps, the lower ending in the wheelhouse perimeter.
9 Wheels are bigger for this Sport model, but the tire diameter remains the same on all versions to keep the opening filled.
10 Separate blade at the bottom of the nose also recalls racing practice, this time as used on sports racers.
11 Pushing the grille forward gives a sense of the central nacelle of a traditional racing car.
2014 Mercedes Benz CLA250 Front Left View
ST. TROPEZ, FRANCE – To visit this part of the world on a budget, come during the off-season when the beaches are empty and the temperature runs in the sub-60s. The Cote d’Azur, pre-Geneva show, is the perfect setting to launch Mercedes-Benz’s new entry-level four-door coupe.
The CLA250 will be Benz’s first volume front-wheel-drive car sold in the U.S., and its rakish, low-aero bodywork makes it longer than the C-Class sedan, which will grow larger when a new model is unveiled in a year. With the new CLA250, Mercedes has a small car that befits the three-pointed star and can be had for about $30,000 to $35,000. It comes standard with cloth seats instead of the brand’s own grade of vinyl, called MB-Tex, or with leather.
First-drive test cars all had the Sport package, which includes a lower-body trim kit and 18-inch AMG wheels. Mercedes figures the wheels will be popular in the U.S., although they’re responsible for a bit of ride-impact harshness, at least as far as can be extrapolated from driving on the smooth roads of southern France. The front-wheel-drive model displays rather mild understeer on the region’s twisty roads.
The engine, a new 2.0-liter turbocharged gas direct-injection four, has an adequate 208 horsepower, although there’s turbo lag and poor throttle tip-in. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission downshifts crisply and intuitively around tight corners but often holds gears too long under acceleration or when slaloming through a series of esses. It’s not easy to shift it yourself. You’d have to upgrade to the 355-hp AWD CLA45 AMG -- expected to hit the $45,000-to-$50,000 range when it launches in the U.S. two months after the CLA250 goes on sale in September -- to get a comfort/sport/manual mode control allowing full use of the paddle-shifters all the time. Because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is cracking down, Mercedes fears cars could be mpg-tested partially in the manual mode, hurting efficiency. Yes, you can paddle up or down through the gears in the CLA250, but if you go more than 30 seconds without a shift, the car reverts to full-automatic mode, which makes it hard to keep track of the gear you’re in.
Fortunately, the transmission has a wet clutch, so it’s far smoother than the dry-clutch Dodge and Ford systems, for example. The exhaust note is not particularly raspy or sporty or, fortunately, loud. You can hear it better with all the windows down, a nostalgic, old-fashioned notion, and because the four doors are unframed, you don’t get the annoying buffeting you find in most modern cars. There’s some wind noise coming off the mirrors and road/tire noise at-speed.
The 4Matic version felt slightly smoother and quieter on these roads, but that probably was a function of being on a different part of the drive than with the FWD model. All U.S. CLAs, imported from Hungary, come with the “sport” suspension; Europeans can choose a “comfort” suspension. Mercedes says the chassis tuning doesn’t vary from FWD to 4Matic, and if the 4Matic mitigates understeer, it’s subtle. You can feel the rear wheels pushing oh so slightly exiting fast turns, but none of the turns on our drive were fast enough to fully sort this out. The FWD model had no perceptible torque steer.
American consumers will want the 18-inch wheel option, especially the younger customers Mercedes seeks, but to get the best of this bargain Benz, the base 17-inch wheels -- which we didn’t sample -- likely are the better choice. This is not a sport sedan, and Mercedes made no noise about that subject. It’s a relaxed, comfortable little four-door coupe, a “baby CLS” with the drive wheels switched. It’s a credible first premium car for younger buyers and for empty-nesters.
Although Mercedes figures that the 4Matic take rate in the Northeast could approach that of its rear-wheel-drive models, that notion flies in the face of the targeted price-sensitive customers. Mercedes hasn’t announced options pricing or fuel economy numbers yet, but has announced a $30,825 base price. The 4Matic option, which comes in early ’14, could add another $1,500 to $2,000. The CLA250 is a much better entry-luxury car at $34,000 typically optioned than one approaching the psychologically lofty $40,000 level.
Mercedes’ MFA platform also will provide a BMW X1–like FWD/AWD crossover, which probably will have a base price in the mid-$30s, just like the popular, late-’90s M-Class. The CLA also launches with the Edition 1 value package, which includes funky yellow-striped seats and yellow interior stitching. You won’t find the interior below Mercedes level if you’re familiar with the C-Class, although the “brushed chrome” plastic dash accent and bright chrome-plastic vent rings are under-par.
Other than the big star on the grille, the base price gets you Collision Prevention Assist. Standalone options include blind-spot assist, a panoramic sunroof, and, of course, leather seats. A Becker Map Pilot will be the entry-level navigation system; a multimedia package upgrades the navi and its screen size and function sophistication and adds a backup camera. The camera should be standard because, like other four-door coupes, the CLA has poor rear-outward visibility.
The Mercedes CLA250 and CLA250 4Matic will compete with the upcoming Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series sedans, nominally with the Buick Verano and the Acura ILX. It also competes with well-equipped Hyundais, Fords, Chevys, and Toyotas, so you have to ask: is this a real Benz? The answer is yes, so long as you remember that mainstream Mercedes models have always been about über-safety and exceptional engineering, with its prestige emanating from the hood ornament.
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250/CLA250 4Matic 

Base price:

As-tested price: $35,500 – $37,000 (est.) 


2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve turbocharged I-4
Horsepower: 208 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1250-4000 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic

Drive: Front- or all-wheel


L x W x H:
182.3 x 70 x 56.6 in 

Cargo capacity (rear seat up): 16.6 cu ft

Curb weight: 3263 lb (FWD)
Top 5 New Cars For College 2014 Cla 45amg Side
With tuition costs ballooning at universities nationwide, it's no surprise fewer students want to drive themselves to college. Why pay to fuel, park, and insure a car when you can walk, bike, or take the bus around campus? Well, having a car means you can take impromptu weekend road trips, hit up the grocery store whenever necessary, take a date to more far-flung locates, or go tailgating before the big game.
2015 Mercedes Benz CLA250 Sport Package Plus Front View
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 now has a racy Sport Package Plus, the company announced. As an upgrade above the car's existing Sport package, the Sport Package Plus treatment endows the CLA250 with even more aggressive looks.
2014 Mercedes Benz Cla45 Amg Standing Mile
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is a runaway sales success, with dealers completely selling out of the new entry-level luxury compact in 2013. But what happens when AMG adds a dash of its black-magic performance, in the form of a 355-hp turbo-four that can summon 332 lb-ft of torque at just 2250 rpm? We intended to find out, testing the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG at Michigan’s Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport for a standing mile run.
Mercedes Benz Cla45 Amg Shooting Brake Spied Rear Three Quarter 1
When a new Mercedes-Benz debuts, a high-powered AMG variant is rarely far behind. That's the case with the upcoming CLA-Class Shooting Brake, which as these photos reveal, will be followed by a CLA45 AMG model.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class
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CLA250 FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
26 MPG City | 38 MPG Hwy
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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Specifications

Quick Glance:
2.0L I4Engine
Fuel economy City:
26 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
38 MPG
208 hp @ 5500rpm
258 ft lb of torque @ 1250rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer RearABS
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation
50,000 miles / 48 months
50,000 miles / 48 months
50,000 miles / 48 months
50,000 miles / 48 months
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Rear Crash
IIHS Roof Strength
IIHS Front Small Overlap

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5-Year Total Cost to Own For The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

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Five Year Cost of Ownership: $42,655 What's This?
Value Rating: Poor