By Rick Popely on November 8, 2013
The CLA is the Budget Benz, a compact sedan with a base price less than $31,000 (including destination) and — "Holy Gottlieb Daimler, Batman!" — front-wheel drive.
Initially, this new sedan is available as the front-drive CLA250. An all-wheel-drive performance model, the CLA45 AMG 4Matic, should arrive in November. A 4Matic version of the CLA250 is due in early 2014.
Despite its position at the bottom of the Mercedes-Benz ladder, the CLA is slightly longer than the C-Class, but its snub-nosed front and more curvaceous styling (patterned after the CLS) make it look smaller.
There is only one trim level for both the CLA250 and CLA45 AMG. The company doesn't routinely use that approach for its cars. Instead, most equipment changes occur as options or option packages. Prices listed here include a $925 destination charge.
Basics: A 208-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder paired with a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic powers the front-drive CLA250. The engine requires premium gas.
Interior & Tech: Standard amenities include a stop-start system, air conditioning, power front seats, mbrace2 infotainment system with a console-mounted controller and 5.8-inch display screen, cruise control, a split folding rear seat, MB-Tex (vinyl) upholstery and anthracite interior trim.
Miscellaneous: In addition to eight standard air bags, collision prevention with automatic braking and an attention assist alert are standard. The standard wheels are 17-inch alloys.
Options: Here is where the cash register really starts ringing. Many features that you would expect to find on a Mercedes are in extra-cost option packages: Leather upholstery is part of the Interior Package; an iPod interface, premium audio system, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and other items are in the Premium Package; Comand navigation with a 7-inch screen and a backup camera are in the Multimedia Package; a sport suspension, 18-inch AMG wheels and AMG exterior trim come in the Sport Package; and a blind spot monitor, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control are included in the Driver Assistance Package.
Among other options are the Parktronic self-parking feature, high-intensity-discharge headlights, a panoramic sunroof, heated seats, wood interior trim, rear air bags and blind spot assist.
Buy 'em all and the MSRP can jump by about $15,000.
Basics: Performance enhancements boost horsepower on the 2.0-liter four-cylinder to an amazing 355, and the top speed increases to 155 mph. The engine requires premium gas. The AWD CLA45 4Matic also has a seven-speed, dual clutch automatic.
Interior & Tech: The CLA45 mostly gets the same standard features as the CLA250, including a stop-start system, air conditioning, power front seats, mbrace2 infotainment system with a console-mounted controller and 5.8-inch display screen, cruise control, a split folding rear seat and MB-Tex (vinyl) upholstery. Instead of anthracite interior trim, the CLA45 has aluminum. Miscellaneous: In addition to eight standard air bags, collision prevention and attention assist alerts are standard. The standard wheels are 18-inch alloys.
Options: Items such as an iPod interface, premium audio system, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control are available in the Premium Package; Comand navigation and a backup camera come in the Multimedia Package; and a blind spot monitor, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control are included in the Driver Assistance Package. The Parktronic self-parking feature and panoramic sunroof are among other options.
The AMG 4Matic offers features not available on the CLA250, including a Driver's Package with an AMG performance suspension, red brake calipers, 19-inch wheels and a top speed of 167 mph. A Night Styling Package due in January adds gloss black exterior trim, and the Exterior Carbon Fiber Package includes carbon fiber trim for the front splitter and diffuser, rocker panels and mirrors.
Contributor Rick Popely has covered the auto industry for decades and hosts a weekly online radio show on TalkZone.com . Email Rick