2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 review: Big improvements in style and substance

    Nothing like a cheery yellow CLA250 to brighten up a cloudy San Francisco day.
    Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow
    The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is certainly an enormous enchancment over the previous CLA-Class. But this subcompact did not exchange the CLA completely. Instead, there is a new CLA-Class on provide for 2020, and it options all the identical luxurious, tech and efficiency upgrades as the brand new A-Class, simply with a bit extra visible aptitude.

    LikeVastly improved styling in contrast with its predecessorFantastic MBUX infotainment techPowerful 2.0-liter engineSmooth on-road dynamics

    Don’t LikeGets costly rapidly with choicesNot as engaging as its A-Class sibling

    The 2020 CLA-Class is offered with front- or all-wheel drive, and is a mere 2 inches longer than its predecessor. You’ll quickly have the ability to go for higher-performance AMG CLA35 and CLA45 variants, however this evaluate focuses on the entry-level CLA250, which nonetheless presents loads of punch.The CLA250’s 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine places out 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque — 13 extra hp than earlier than, however an similar lb-ft spec. The seven-speed computerized transmission is fast to upshift and oftentimes sluggish to downshift within the automotive’s default Comfort mode, however switching it over to Sport improves the habits noticeably. Here, the transmission will preemptively downshift whereas I brake for a flip, skipping a couple of gears when needed. This means I’ve bought the tach needle proper within the coronary heart of the powerband when it is time to hit the throttle once more, and do not have to attend for the transmission to catch up.

    No, 221 hp and 258 lb-ft aren’t loopy quantities of energy, however that makes the CLA straightforward to wring out at authorized speeds. You can sing the praises of high-horsepower automobiles all day lengthy, however the reality is, most people do not have the talent or the pavement to take advantage of big energy. On my backroad runs in Sport mode, I’m in a position to drive the automotive briskly with out feeling like I’m overdoing it. Mercedes-Benz gave the CLA250 thicker sway bars for 2020, and the automotive has a 2-inch wider observe than earlier than, which helps it really feel much more secure and assured whereas cornering. The new CLA is a way more rewarding steer than its predecessor. While I definitely get pleasure from pushing the CLA250 by way of turns, do not be fooled, this isn’t a fast automotive. Mercedes claims a 0-to-60-mph time of 6.2 seconds for each front- and all-wheel-drive variations, a time that appears a bit bold to me based mostly on my freeway merging expertise. Those on the lookout for a sprightlier sport sedan will wish to watch for AMG CLA35 and CLA45 fashions.

    Still, the CLA250 is completely tremendous for its meant daily-driver way of life. If slogging by way of site visitors is a part of your life, Mercedes’ tech could make it a lot simpler. The adaptive cruise management provides route-based pace modulation for 2020, so the automotive will mechanically decelerate for curves and toll plazas, and cut back your pace ought to the restrict change. When you get to your vacation spot, the blind-spot monitoring stays energetic for 3 minutes after you flip the automotive off to warn of any oncoming cyclists, pedestrians or automobiles, which is a pleasant improve for 2020, particularly if you happen to’re a frequent parallel parker.

    The CLA’s lane-keeping help, nevertheless, could be a bit finicky. It panicked after I got here throughout a wall adjoining to my lane, some 5 or 6 ft to the suitable of me, activating the brakes and pulling me to the left after I was in no hazard by any means. Also, whereas this know-how retains the automotive useless middle on straightaways, it tends to show in and unwind late, basically preserving the automotive to the surface of the lane on sweeping bends. The latter would not fairly mix with the pure movement of my arms whereas turning; this technique is finest left for straight-ahead drives. Moving inside, Mercedes’ in-dash know-how is sensible, with the non-obligatory 10.25-inch middle display screen (a 7-inch show is normal) operating the MBUX infotainment system, coupled with a reconfigurable gauge cluster of the identical measurement. MBUX might be operated by contact, however I discover myself utilizing the touchpad on the middle console or the thumb pads on the steering wheel. Of course, I also can simply converse to the MBUX system. A easy, “Hey, Mercedes,” brings up the voice assistant, and it is fairly good. Granted, among the Spanish-language avenue names in California confuse it a bit, however by and enormous, MBUX does a good job of recognizing pure speech. The assistant will even inform you a fairly humorous joke if you happen to ask.The CLA brings a robust cabin tech sport to the subcompact section.
    Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow
    Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are normal, and I often use my smartphone for navigation, however the CLA has some trick augmented-reality tech in its embedded system that I actually like. When you are approaching a flip, an arrow seems on a video show from the forward-facing digicam, so precisely the place to go. When you are looking for an deal with, the home numbers seem proper there on the display screen. I want the show have been on the gauge cluster and never the middle display screen, as I really feel like I’m taking my eyes off the street just a little an excessive amount of, however total, I discover this tech extraordinarily useful.What would not appear so useful is the out there Interior Assistant gesture-control know-how, which activates the overhead gentle while you transfer your hand over to the passenger seat. Not solely is it form of iffy in its response, it is fixing an issue I am unable to think about having. It’s straightforward sufficient for me to press the button for the inside gentle, since as a way to activate the Interior Assistant I often find yourself having to wave or flail my hand. I actually really feel like that is tech for tech’s sake.The CLA has upgraded charging ports, so make sure that to seize your USB-C cables. There is one port up entrance for smartphone integration and there are two within the middle console. Rear-seat passengers get two USB-C ports, as properly. Wireless charging is offered if you have not made the bounce to USB-C, and one 12-volt outlet is included, too.As for the inside design, it is similar to another new Mercedes, which is to say unbelievable. I really like the turbine-inspired air vents, and the entire cabin appears to be like smooth and complex. I additionally dig that I can select a bunch of ambient lighting colours. The entrance seats are supportive but tender, and whereas I do must duck my head a bit to get into the again, I’ve sufficient headroom, even with my tall hair and 5-foot, 9-inch body. Taller of us might be extra snug up entrance. And if you happen to do plan to have back-seat passengers on the common, maybe think about the extra upright A220 sedan.Think of it as a Mercedes-Benz A-Class with that “four-door coupe” fashion.
    Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow
    The exterior is simply as stylish as the within — a great factor, for the reason that previous CLA was fairly frumpy-chunky. For 2020, the automotive’s hindquarters are a lot simpler on the eyes, with smooth taillights and a license plate mounting level that is been lowered, making room for the Mercedes-Benz star to take middle stage. In entrance, the headlights have been tightened up, the grille enlarged and additional vents added for a menacing look. It all works, although I’d be mendacity if I mentioned I did not desire the marginally cleaner appears to be like of the A-Class.The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 begins at $36,650; add $2,000 if you’d like all-wheel drive. But good luck preserving that value low, pals. My tester has the $2,250 driver help package deal, the $1,150 navigation package deal and the $1,100 premium package deal in addition to a bunch of look add-ons, and it is available in at $54,110, together with $995 for vacation spot. Personally, I’d nix the flamboyant paint improve (although the automotive does look actually good in yellow) and forgo the AMG Line remedy, blacked-out night time look package deal and 19-inch wheels. I’d drop all-wheel drive, too, since I stay in California. That will get the worth right down to round a way more affordable $46,000.As for the competitors, you might take a look at the Acura ILX or Audi A3, however actually, the CLA’s most compelling different is the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. It’s basically the identical automotive minus the swoopy roofline, and rather less energy below the hood. Both of Mercedes’ new subcompacts are significantly good automobiles, with easy energy supply and top-notch interiors. Some desire the look of the Some time others will go CLA. Either method, you may’t lose.

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