The first thing people notice about the CLA is its styling. Mercedes-Benz classifies the car as a 4-door coupe, much like its older sibling the CLS. The comparison is apt, as the CLA borrows much of its design language from its bigger brother. However the base price of a CLA is less than half that of a CLS making the CLA quite a bargain from a styling standpoint.
The CLA utilizes a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine making 208 hp and a very healthy 258 foot-pounds of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard with Mercedes-Benz' 4Matic all-wheel drive system as an option. The only transmission choice is a 7-speed dual-clutch unit, providing the efficiency of a manual with the functionality of an automatic. Performance is sprightly with good acceleration, while fuel economy is also respectable thanks to one of the most aerodynamic bodies ever sold in the U.S.
For its first year on the market, the CLA is available in only one trim level, the CLA250. Standard equipment includes 14-way power adjustable front seats, an 8-speaker CD/MP3/Radio sound system, an auto dimming rearview mirror, rain sensing wipers, heated mirrors, a 5.8-inch color screen, Bluetooth and an integrated garage door opener.
Options are plentiful on the CLA 250 and include items like a panoramic sunroof, HID headlights, a navigation system, heated front seats, PARKTRONIC parking assist and a blind spot assist system. Equipment packages include a sports package with unique exterior details and upgraded brakes, an interior package with leather seating surfaces, a premium package with an uprated stereo and a multimedia package featuring a larger screen and a six disc CD changer.
With the CLA being a bit smaller than typical Mercedes-Benz models, safety was a point of emphasis for the company. Optional safety equipment includes Distronic plus, a radar based cruise control system that can automatically apply the brakes if it senses a collision, as well as lane keeping assist and blind spot assist. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes and traction control as well as stability control and several airbags for both the front and the sides of the car.