By Veeno Dewan
The new, second-generation CLA luxury sedan has been moved up in the Mercedes-Benz hierarchy, giving up the entry slot to the A-Class. The CLA now neatly slot in between the A-Class and C-Class. Although its termed as coupe, the CLA is in fact a sleek four – door and has been given a makeover for the 2020 model year. There is new dramatic profile, with neater styling to emphasize length, while powerful looking rear side haunches add weigh and heft to the overall design. There is large aggressive AMG “diamond” grille upfront, while the rear has new taillights. The trunk also has a wider opening. The CLA looks good, expensive, taut and fast with an as standard AMG styling package that adds some body trim, lowered suspension, 18-inch wheels, or optional 19 inchers and larger brakes.
The CLA arrives in Canada, with 4Matic all-wheel drive as standard hooked up to a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder making 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed 7G-DTC dual-clutch transmission does shifting duties. Our tester was a Damin blue model with 19” inch AMG Matte Cross Spoke wheels and a MRSP of $43,000, equipped with following options: the Premium package at $3,000, and the Technology package at $1,600. Other extra’s included the: Intelligent Drive Package, Navigation Package, Active Parking Assist, 360 Camera and Night Package and Multifunction sports steering wheel. Total price -$55,340 plus delivery and taxes
Most impressive in the new 2020 CLA model is the upgraded interior. There a bolder, striking looking cabin with a sleek digital dash housing the digital instrument cluster and infotainment display. The whole look is more modern and sophisticated than other sedans in this class. Our tester came with plush Black Artico faux leather and optional Black Open Pore wood trim interior. Opt for the Premium Package as equipped on our test car and the front digital twin screens increase from 7 inch to an impressive 10.25 inches, however a row of real buttons below the trio of round vents give HVAC function immediately. It’s all very Mercedes But with a much bolder look, bleu ambient lighting, sleek metal and premium quality materials abound.
The seats are superbly comfortable for long hours of driving, and in general the cabin is roomy up front, just a tad squishy in the rear due the coupe like roofline, however the 2020 CLA does offer tad more shoulder room (44 mm) out back.
Highlight feature when it comes to in-car technology is definitely the superb new Mercedes’ cloud based MBUX interface that I have come across in other Mercedes. MBUX is a voice activated concierge system that can learn your preferences and adapt to them. Voice command is activated by simply saying, “Hey Mercedes,” and relaying your request using voice. It worked very well and intuitively, when asked to do things like turning on heated seats, changing temperature, radio stations and a host of other request related to navigation and infotainment. Another really cool feature is the MBUX system’s gesture recognition for tasks you would normally have to push a button or toggle around. You don’t have to use MBUX voice command, as it can be deactivated as alternately, you can communicate via a touchpad or the afore mentioned hand gestures. There is also a touchpad with haptic feedback, and you can also access most functions via a couple of thumb swipe pads on the steering wheel as well. Finally another cool piece of tech is the augmented reality navigation system, which overlays street name graphics over a camera view of upcoming turns.
On the road. The CLA is smoother and quieter than the previous model the 2; 0 liter engine delivers more than enough power, with smooth turbine -like acceleration. The 7-speed auto transmission’s shifts are seamless in operation, with no hesitation or jerkiness. Switch to sport mode and the CLA gets busy with quicker, more urgent power delivery. Handling-wise, the CLA feels taut, solid and composed, with slightly lower suspension that allows for firm, steady, wallow free entry and exits in bends. Good engineering and a great chassis mean the CLA behaves like a smaller, nimble premium car.
To sum up, the CLA is wonderful, with a world class interior and engineering – up there with its segment contemporaries from Audi, BMW, and Lexus. It is priced very attractively, but then again most buyers will load up on ‘must have’ options that will hike up the price. An awesome l car that gets top marks in every category. 2020 Mercedes Benz CLA250: Priced from MRSP $43,000. Price as tested with options: $55,340 plus delivery and taxes.
More info at www.mercedes-benz.ca