2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250
The Entry Level Benz
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD – The idea is to bring in younger buyers to the Mercedes brand, get them hooked, and then move up the model lineup as fame and fortune builds over a lifetime. Mercedes is hardly the first car builder to do that.
Rival BMW prices range from $32,100 up to $74,000 base prices for the 2-Series to the 7-Series. Lexus sedans roughly cover the same price range.
In a lot of ways, the least expensive Mercedes has its enticing features. A sexy exterior body design turned heads from ritzy Maryland suburbs to more rural areas. People stopped and gazed approvingly at the test car.
Inside, the Sierra Beige trim with stitching and comfortable multi adjustable and heated “MD Tex” upholstered seats were comfortable and required little adjustment on long trips. The interior design was appealing and very familiar to those who have been in MB’s models before. The 7” high resolution LCD screen did look like a late addition, but its size and placement did make it easy for quick checks by the operator. The Harman Kardon audio system was mid pack in its sound quality but easy enough to program and command.
Under the hood was a responsive 2.0-liter turbo 4 that was rated at 208 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. It produces 258 lb-ft of torque, Mercedes claims, from idle to 4,000 rpm and it felt more than adequate for the needs and desires of the expected buyer. MB claims a 0-60 run of 6.9 seconds and I have no argument with that.
The test car also came equipped with paddle shifts that put in a fine performance and should appeal to do it yourselfers. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic was quick to react when the driver’s right foot pushed for all the CLA had to offer. While the test model was front wheel drive, all-wheel drive is available in an upscale model
The test car was EPA rated at 26-39 mpg and in mostly country and interstate driving for the week I came away with an overall 28 mpg. The CLA lives on the premium blend.
Downsides? There were two that stood out. Mercedes decided that all CLA250’s sent to these shores would carry the “Sport” suspension. It is a very rigid set up that sent noise and vibration into the dash panel when I encountered the many potholes and other road blemishes left over from the record winter we experienced here in Mary-land.
On the rare smooth road the ride was fine and the handling excellent. But even on the interstates, bridge expansion strips and other bumps that aren’t going away had me looking for an adjustment for the “Comfort” suspension setting that didn’t exist.
The second setback was caused by the swept back styling that made entry to the rear seats a test of one’s agility. Once inside there was not much headroom for those 6’ tall or more. A reminder: put the boss in the front seat!
You may have seen ads that the car is priced at less than $30K. Well that is without the $925 Destination and Delivery fee so you are really looking at $30,825.
Add in 18-inch wheels, Blind Spot Detector, Black Ash Wood trim that was very attractive, a $2,300 Premium Package and a $2,700 Multimedia Package and that bumped the test car’s bottom line to $36,870.
Here’s my take. Eliminate the “Sport” suspension and I can live with the tight confines of the rear seat. The exterior style, comfort up front, charming interior, good power and handling, and with most of the desirable options this rig still comes in under $40K. All of which makes this an attractive choice for those who are seeking entry into the three pointed star.
Just match the ride with other models in the lineup.