Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 CDI
Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte and the Mercedes CLA have a thing or two in common.
They are both classy. A little strange. Amusing. And then there is the dual personality thing.
Just as Ferrando and Gulielmo appear to change character, so the CLA can be just a small Merc sedan. Or it can become a snarling sporty coupé. At the touch of a button. This button is like a rocket launcher. Select S and all pretence of frugality and domesticity disappears.
Like Fiordiligi and Dorabella, prepare to be swept off your feet by the charming soldiers and romanced by the fiery foreigners.
Mercedes have, with the 220, managed to combine performance and practicality in a very neat looking package. Most people saw the coupé and not the sedan. A very successful design then. It looks sporty but has 4 doors and is practical inside. It seats 4 adults in comfort and the boot is not bad. I have a suspicion its about as big inside as the C series sedan of 10 years ago. Sitting in the back with the driver’s seat set up for myself I was quite comfortable.
Mozart would have approved of the exterior styling, I think. It suggests a sporty intent but delivers practicality. BMW and Audi have some catching up to do. Mercedes call it a 4 door coupé. They say: “Three prominent lines give structure to the vehicle when viewed from the side: the front structural edge over the wings flows towards the rear end in a characteristic dropping line. Another, more sinewy line spans the shoulder muscle above the rear axle, while the third feature line extends in a sweeping curve from the front wheel towards the rear.”
The boot takes 470 litres or 480kg.
I loved it and could not find a particular element that jarred. Nice car. The CLA looks better in the metal than in these pictures.
The interior is both smart and suggests sportiness. Not a lot of space but enough and very well used. I did not like the “free standing” display which sticks out from the dash looking very much like a cheap Chinese part put in as an afterthought. My son says: “the stupid screen that looks out of place.” Shoddy, to say the least.
The instrument panel incorporates five round vents. The outer rings of the round vents have a high-quality electroplated silver-chrome finish.
The CLA is fitted with integral seats in the front and rear.
You can order the “AMG Line” equipment level. Here the emphasis is on the colour red: in the contrasting topstitching on the sports seats the multifunction sports steering wheel in nappa leather with flattened lower section, and the armrests. You will also get steel sports pedals with rubber studs.
This is the version we had.
There are three design packages, “Exclusive”, “AMG Exclusive” and “Night package” which offer further individualisation possibilities.
All CLA versions have electromechanical power steering, which makes possible various steering assistance functions controlled by the ECU, including countersinking when the car oversteers, corrective steering when one or more wheels have different levels of grip, reducing torque steer, compensating for camber.
The 2.2 litre turbo diesel produces a very useful 350Nm between 1 400 and 3 400 rpm and puts out 125 kW. Expect fuel consumption between 5 and 6 l/100km unless you have a heavy foot which will reward you with around 7l/100km. Top speed is rated 230km/h and the 0 to 100km/h time of 8.2 seconds is not to shabby.
The CLA drives as well as it looks. Behind the wheel you know you are driving a special little car. Well, not so little. She handles well, corners well and accelerates very joyfully. She sounds great too.
Disappointingly the CLA has run safe tyres and not a spare wheel to be seen. I personally do not like travelling on the open road without a spare wheel. Avoid back roads with this one.
A small luxury performance family sedan dressed up as a coupé. Like Mozart did with Opera, advancing their technical sophistication and emotional reach, so the Mercedes engineers and designers have produced a breath of fresh air.
The CLA as tested cost: R450 000
The range: CLA 200 R383 900, CLA 250 SportAMATIC R529 800, CLA 220 CDi R438 800, CLA 45 AMG R694 700.
Also consider a BMW 1 Series (120d or 125i), Audi A3 Sedan A3 2.0TDI SE, Lexus CT200h or Volvo S60.
Warranty – Two years unlimited distance and 60 000km maintenance plan.