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Mercedes-Benz CLA (2013–2018)

Last updated 20 September 2018

Small and stylish saloon based on the A-Class. Better quality ride. Decent sized boot given its size. Well finished interior. Better looking estate version from 2015.
Not particularly engaging or rewarding to drive. Rear seats are only really any good for occasional use.
Updated 19 May 2018

Report of leather side bolster of driver's seat of 2016 Mercedes CLA 220D Shooting Brake splitting at 18,000 miles.

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In creating the the CLA, Mercedes-Benz has essentially given the A-Class a CLS-style makeover and in an instant small saloons have just got sexy. Without a saloon option for the latest generations of Focus and Astra, buyers looking for a small car with a boot haven't had much choice and the Volkswagen Jetta has pretty much had the market to itself.

But the Jetta, for all its qualities, doesn't have the cachet of a Mercedes-Benz, Audi or BMW. And this is why the CLA is particularly noteworthy. It's the starting gun for small saloons from all three of the premium German manufacturers.

The CLA itself is pitched as a having the look of the larger CLS, but without the price tag. There is certainly a resemblance there, with a distinctive, rakish rear that blurs the line between saloon and coupe. As it stands, there's nothing like it on the market, so Mercedes-Benz is pretty confident that it will fly out of showrooms – even priced at £24,355 for the Sport and £26,555 for the AMG Sport. That's a couple of grand less than a C-Class, but still a hefty premium over an A-Class hatchback.

Being based on the A-Class means front-wheel drive and four-cylinder engines. It's a limited line up from launch, with just the CLA 180 petrol and CLA 220 CDI diesel on offer. Later in 2013 came the CLA 200 CDI and CLA 250, as well as the headline-grabbing CLA 45 AMG with 355PS.

Up front, it's very similar to the A-Class with very upmarket-looking controls that have a top quality feel to them. It also has an iPad-esque tablet mounted to the dash. It's standard and is how many of the car's functions, including the stereo and sat nav, are accessed. Right now it looks smart and is an innovation, but with the current pace of technological advances, you can't help but wonder whether it will start to look rather dated in a few years' time.

Overall the CLA offers a new spin for buyers whose default choice may previously have been an Audi A3 or BMW 1 Series. The looks won't be to everyone's taste, but those who like the coupe-like look or have previously fancied a CLS, but haven't had the cash, will not just like it, but will love it.

Road Test Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 CDI Shooting Brake

List Price from £27,410
Buy new from £24,054
Contract hire from £245.63 per month

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