Mercedes-Benz CLA (2019) Review

Mercedes-Benz CLA (2019) At A Glance

4/5
Honest John Overall Rating
There’s a lot to like about the Mercedes CLA, not least its stylish looks, posh interior, clever infotainment system, grown-up driving experience and generous equipment roster.

+Innovative infotainment system that looks great, really posh-feeling interior, comfortable and secure to drive.

-Rear headroom is tight, access to boot space isn’t great, A200 petrol engine not refined enough.

The latest Mercedes CLA is not the most practical choice, but if you want practicality, you don’t buy a coupe, you buy a saloon or an estate, right? Smaller and more compact that rivals such as the Audi A5 Sportback and Volkswagen Arteon, but not a lot cheaper, either. Still very competitive, though.

When is a coupe not a coupe? Why, when it’s got four doors, of course.

Not the funniest joke, perhaps, but it raises a valid question. Purists and pedants will argue until the cows come home about whether a car with four doors can ever really be described as a coupe, but does it really matter? Besides, a victory either way won’t stop car makers applying the term to their slinkily styled saloons. 

And yes, Mercedes has plenty of form in this area. The first CLS - a swoopy version of the E-Class - didn’t invent the phrase but certainly bought it into the modern-day public consciousness, while this, the smaller CLA, is now in its second generation.

Based on the A-Class, the previous CLA didn’t have much of a start in life, because the mechanicals that lay underneath were a little bit rubbish. The latest A-Class, though, is much more like it, so does that translate into a higher level of dynamic excellence for the CLA, too? Happily, yes it does.

Now, before you go assuming that the CLA’s slinky lines guarantee it to be some sort of sports car, we’ll scotch that particular rumour from the get-go.

Yes, it handles capably and securely, but this car is more about comfort and refinement than agility and speed, and as a result, it’s a really nice, relaxing car to spend time in as the miles slip by. Granted, the entry-level engines could do with more poke and better noise isolation, but stick with the perkier versions and you’ll lead a very quiet life.

You’ll also be bedazzled by what sits directly in front of you, because the CLA, like every other modern Merc, is packed with high-tech infotainment kit.

It works well and looks absolutely fabulous, while it also supports all the functionality you could reasonably expect from it. Other luxury kit is in plentiful supply, too, and if anything, the huge amount of standard safety kit on board is even more impressive.

The interior is also really impressive for quality, even if it’s not quite so impressive for practicality. Rear headroom is tight, particularly in versions with the panoramic roof, and while the boot is a decent size, the space is a little difficult to get at.

That said, if you want ultimate practicality, you buy a saloon or an estate instead, and the CLA will be roomy enough to customers who only use their rear seats occasionally, or exclusively for kids.

No, it’s not a cheap option, with prices similar to those of bigger rivals like the Audi A5 Sportback and Volkswagen Arteon. Even so, a very appealing choice that’s well worthy of your consideration.

What does a Mercedes-Benz CLA (2019) cost?