I’m sure it comes as very little surprise when I say that engines have progressed a lot since I first got behind the wheel of a car, BUT, aside from the new Mercedes-Benz CLA200’s design, technology, handling and mammoth bootspace, the thing that really had me flummoxed (in a good way) was its 1.3L motor.
I won’t name the marque, however, the 1.3L engine that lay beneath the bonnet of one of my first cars boasted such statistics as sub 100Nm of torque, 49kW of power and 0-100km/h times that even I could probably outrun (ok maybe that’s a little bit farfetched). Anyway, the point is, with these numbers still floating around my head, I wondered how this cc size would fare in the larger, new CLA – as it turns out, VERY well.
120kW and 250Nm, that’s two and a half times the power and torque from before! 0-100km/h comes to you in just 8.2 seconds and if not being poked, it will sip fuel at a rate of 5.7L/100km. These figures are all well and good, great in fact, but it’s the way it’s all delivered to you that counts. In Sport, the exhaust note sounds gruff and masculine (that’s when you can hear it as the cabin is very quiet), and the throttle response when on the move and particularly when overtaking, is immediate. My three or so decades of knowing what to expect from 1,300 cc’s gone in an instant – ah well.
The new CLA is larger (longer and wider) and more elegant than the previous model, more C than A when it comes to class. It’s a sedan with coupe good looks and a sense of purity in its form, in my review models case, helped by the fact that it came clothed in Polar white paintwork. Matrix headlights flank each side of the very recognisable Mercedes grille while the lower air curtains direct airflow towards the black 19-inch AMG alloys (did I mention my model came with the AMG bodykit option?). At the rear, the taillights have been designed to make the CLA look wider and certainly sleeker, chrome exhaust tips symmetrical fill each lower corner and air splitters aid with extra downforce.
The CLA’s extra size translates well to the inside. The bootspace is a massive 460L making it a very practical vehicle and the rear seat headroom is more than ample, although the legroom back there is a little more compact. Driver and front passenger receive the lion share of treats. Figure-hugging sports seats with (in my case) racing red accents, two 10.25-inch high res screens that form one large instrumentation/infotainment cluster that’s sooo incredibly personalisable, ambient lighting that is sure to match any mood you feel like and the MBUX system that’s at your beck and call whenever you say ‘hey Mercedes’ or just ‘Mercedes’ for that matter.
The CLA 200 slotted easily into my family dynamic. Being a small family of three, space was more than adequate and as far as style goes, well the Mercedes-Benz badge alone had the neighbours curtains twitching. Out on the open road, the cabin offers great insulation from the outside world but there’s still enough feedback from the road to know you’re driving (and that to me is a good thing). In Sport mode, you get to hear some of the engine noise, particularly as the digital rev needle heads north and the handling feels agile and well-connected to the tarmac below.
The enlarged boot space came in handy with the groceries, (although my wallet would have prefered it to be smaller) and despite the Coupe’s overall increase in size, navigating car parks and mall parking is a breeze, exercises made even easier thanks to 360-degree cameras.
The CLA 200 is a sleeker, more refined style of car that’s quite the joy to drive. It’s practical and yet desirable, sporty yet modest and as for that 1.3L engine – all I can say is Yay.