To begin, this was my first drive of the latest generation cars from the German giant and I have to say, I was slightly underwhelmed by the whole thing. When I think of Mercedes and sport mixed together, only good thoughts are conjured in my brain but never the word boring. This occasion was an exception though. I wasn’t expecting mind-bending performance but simply more noise and a bit more grunt. Now it may sound like I’m tearing this car apart for not being as quick as an AMG GT-R, but read the rest of this article first before you make your judgement.
In terms of functionality, comfort and overall feel this car is very good. When you’re cruising down the highway in full automatic comfort mode this car is as smooth as silk, even on pretty rubbish South African roads. The CLA feels really well engineered to cater for the everyday driver who wants complete comfort, style and a bit of speed. The gearbox is better than I expected, although my expectations weren’t very high since I’m not a fan of automatic gearboxes. The upshifts were pretty sharp which was a nice feeling when climbing through the gears but on the downshifts, it felt a little sluggish. And due to very low engine noise, it was hard to gauge when to shift down at the right time without over revving the car when slowing down.
The interior of the CLA was a nice place to be with some fine red stitching in the leather seats accompanied by matching seat belts. The air vents on the dash reeked of cheap plastic which was a shame as overall, it’s been nicely put together. Having said that though, it’s not exactly the most inspiring interior I’ve ever stepped into. It had an almost corporate feel to it with not much thought put into making it exciting. The steering wheel had a very pleasant feel, much like the incredible M Sport wheel offered by rivals BMW and when put into Sport mode, had a great weighted sensation when cornering.
So, the Mercedes CLA 250 Sport is a good-looking car, its pleasing to the eye and displays Mercedes’ consistent appreciation for detail and refinement. Again, it’s not the most exotic or exciting looking car on the market but certainly nothing close to terrible. Compared to its rivals, it doesn’t stand out as a clear favorite or rebel but fits somewhere in the middle especially at this price point of R700,000.
Price – R700,000.
Rivals – BMW 135i, Audi S3, VW Golf R.
Rating – 3 out 5.