Anyone in the market for a premium compact sedan probably has the new generation Mercedes-Benz CLA at the top of the list. Completely overhauled for the 2019MY, it’s still a re-bodied version of the A-Class, only with a boot and sexier styling.
Unlike the previous-gen, though, now there’s a “proper” A-Class Sedan as well in Merc’s range, so there’s a bit of sibling rivalry going on – or is there?
The truth is that opting for the sexier-looking CLA means accepting that you’ll have tall rear passengers struggling for headroom – the downside of form over function, aka that slopping roofline. Legroom is decent for the class and boot space is actually better than expected, as the car is now 48 mm (1.9 in) longer and 53 mm (2.1 in) wider than its predecessor and also boasts a 30 mm (1.2 in) longer wheelbase.
While the exterior styling is unique, the interior is identical to the A-Class. That’s not a bad thing though, because the 2019 CLA still gets the same great build quality with lots of premium materials expected from a Benz and MBUX infotainment system, which is very intuitive, not to mention that it gives the cabin a modern look.
Behind the driver’s seat, it feels exactly like an A-Class, albeit a bit larger. Again, that’s a positive thing, because it still drives good and stays planted in corners, provided you don’t abuse the throttle and steering, of course. Remember, this is a sporty-looking, not sports, sedan.
The overall experience in the 2019 CLA is that of a good car, and it won’t disappoint even with the 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that powers the CLA 180. Its 136 horsepower output that’s directed to the front wheels via the smooth-shifting 7-speed automatic transmission is modest, to say the least, yet sufficient for most scenarios – and if you want more, there are always more powerful (and more expensive) variants on offer.
The thing is, even the CLA 180, in AMG Line trim s the car reviewed below, exceeds the €40,000 ($44,335) mark in Ireland, whereas the entry-level model starts at about €34,000 ($37,685) and packs a manual transmission. It’s a baby-Merc alright, but the three-pointed star is still there, and thus it is priced accordingly.