Mercedes CLA Review & Prices
The Mercedes CLA Coupe is a sleek four-door alternative to the high-tech A-Class hatchback. It’s every bit a tech-laden, but sacrifices space in the name of style
Find out more about the Mercedes CLA
The Mercedes CLA Coupe is a sportier-looking option for those who want something more stylish than the already pretty stylish Mercedes A-Class. The two cars share plenty of features inside and under the bonnet, though, and from the front, the two are hard to tell apart.
From the side, however, the Mercedes CLA Coupe looks more like Mercedes’ larger CLS model that’s shrunk in the wash. The ground-hugging bumpers, angular brake lights and curved windows all look like they belong on something much bigger and much more expensive.
On the inside, things look just as dramatic. No matter which one you go for you get a huge dual-screen infotainment system (as seen in the A-Class) and there’s plenty of ambient lighting which helps show off the brushed metal trims and gorgeous turbine-like air vents.
You also get Mercedes’ latest MBUX infotainment system as standard. Its party trick is its ability to offer augmented reality satellite navigation. It takes a live video feed from the camera on the CLA Coupe’s front bumper and overlays directions to help you take the right turning at confusing junctions.
If you love the Mercedes A-Class’ clever technology but fancy something a little more eye-catching, the CLA Coupe could be the car for you
The Mercedes CLA Coupe is more than just a load of clever tech – it’s also really comfortable, at least upfront. You get leather seats as standard and they get lots of support in all directions and in the right places. The back seats are a bit different if you are taller than the average, though.
The boot is a pretty good size – it’s got more room than the boxier load bay in the A-Class but getting bulky things in is trickier because of the narrow and awkward opening. The CLA Shooting Brake sibling car is a better bet for carrying more stuff.
It’s unlikely you’ll buy the CLA Coupe to do weekly tip runs though, and it’s more at home enjoying itself down some back roads. One notable upgrade over the A-Class is the rear suspension. You get a more advanced setup that makes it feel more agile.
There are two quiet and economical petrols – both 1.3-litre engines – and a 2.0-litre diesel engine to choose from in the standard range. There’s also a plug-in hybrid which will suit company car drivers or private buyers who can recharge at home.
You can also get the Mercedes CLA Coupe with the same high-tech driver assistance systems as the standard A-Class to help make long stints behind the wheel feel like popping to the shops.
In many respects, then, the CLA Coupe is very similar to the more affordable A-Class. But, if you’re looking for something more fun to drive that prioritises style over spaciousness – the Mercedes CLA is well worth considering.
The Mercedes CLA has a RRP range of £34,535 to £51,130. Prices start at £34,535 if paying cash. The price of a used Mercedes CLA on carwow starts at £20,000.
Our most popular versions of the Mercedes CLA are:
|Model version||carwow price from|
|CLA 180 Sport Executive 4dr Tip Auto||£34,535||Compare offers|
|CLA 200 AMG Line Premium Plus 4dr Tip Auto||£44,975||Compare offers|
|CLA 180 AMG Line Executive 4dr Tip Auto||£37,705||Compare offers|
Now, you’d expect to pay a premium for such a stylish car with a Merc badge, so it’s no surprise that the CLA Coupe costs quite a bit considering its size. What you might not expect is how much more expensive the CLA is compared with an Audi A3 Saloon or a BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe. Both these cars look good, both have posh German badges, but either undercuts the CLA by thousands of pounds.
If you decide the CLA is worth the extra (and we wouldn’t blame you if you did), then choosing one of the 1.3-litre petrols keeps the price down. The plug-in hybrid costs more than the petrol and diesel models, although it’s cheap on tax for a company car driver and the low running costs will earn back some of the price premium for private buyers.
More fun to drive than an A-Class, but the ride is firmer, so comfort levels suffer a little
To go with the sportier coupe looks, the CLA comes with a sportier and more sophisticated suspension set up than the A-Class hatchback on which it’s based. That’s not necessarily the best news around town, as the firmer ride isn’t ideal when you’re just pottering about.
In fairness, though, we could live with the CLA’s stiffer suspension around town for the benefit on a favourite B-road, which we’ll come to in a moment. Suffice it to say there are comfier cars than the CLA for the school run or commute, but you won’t lose your fillings.
Every CLA comes with an automatic gearbox, which takes the strain out of stop-start traffic. Petrols have seven gears, diesels and plug-in hybrids have eight. Either way, the gearbox shifts smoothly, and all the engine options have sufficient poke for town driving.
If you’re concerned about emissions around town, take a close look at the plug-in hybrid CLA. Badged 250e, this model has an all-electric range of up to 44 miles. That’s more than enough for many commutes.
On the motorway
The CLA’s firmer suspension works well on the motorway. It feels stable and planted, just what you look for in a car that’s going to cover a lot of miles.
Any of the engines are strong enough to reach 70mph pretty quickly, although the diesel and plug-in hybrid have more mid-range muscle in reserve than the petrols. The super-fact AMG-branded CLA 35 and 45 are barely getting into their stride at 70mph.
The diesel can sound a bit clattery, but it will go further between fuel stops than the petrol-powered cars. It’s a good option if you’re a high-mileage driver.
On a twisty road
This is where the CLA’s uprated suspension really comes into its own. The coupe is a lot more fun than the A-Class hatchback.
It handles neatly and grips strongly. Even if you find you have piled into a corner a little too quickly, the CLS easily maintains its composure.
The Merc would be better still with a bit more weight and feel from the steering. Even so, it’s an enjoyable car to drive on a favourite road, especially if you choose the high-performance CLA 35 or 45. Merc’s AMG division has worked its magic on these models, and it shows.
Roomy in the front but cramped in the back
To use a footballing cliché, the Mercedes CLA’s cabin is a tale of two halves. Let’s start in the front.
In the first half, Merc’s crack strikers have found the back of the net. There’s plenty of space, so whether you are short or tall you’ll be able to get comfortable.
There’s lots of height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel, and the driver’s seat adjusts for height and seat cushion angle. The cushion can be extended to give more under-thigh support, which is a nice touch. The seats are heated, even on the entry-level model, to keep your buns toasted in the winter.
You might not get on quite so well with the fixed head restraint position. Some drivers find this too close to the back of their heads which forces them to crane their neck forwards rather than relax. It’s worth hopping in a CLA to check if this bothers you before you commit to buying.
Storage space is plentiful, with big door bins that will take a 750ml bottle of water and twin cupholders at the base of the centre console. At the press of a button the cupholder grips tighter, so whether you have an extra-large latte or a skinny can of pop it should be held snugly.
Space in the back seats
It’s in the second half where the back four’s defensive frailties are exposed. Or, to put this tortured analogy out of its misery, there’s not much space in the back.
The sloping roofline lends the CLA its four-door coupe appearance, but it does headroom no favours. You don’t need to be especially tall to find your head brushing against the ceiling.
Legroom is easier to live with, but you sit low to the floor with your knees pushed up high which isn’t very comfortable.
At a push you can fit three in the back, but nobody will be very comfy and the chunky transmission tunnel gets in the way for the passenger in the middle.
The A-Class hatchback is more practical if you expect to use the rear seats regularly.
The Merc has a healthy 460 litres for your bags if you choose a CLA powered by a combustion engine. Pick the petrol-electric model and that drops to 395 litres.
There’s a bit of a load lip to lift items over, but nothing too back-straining. Just don’t expect the boot to be as easy to fill as a hatchback’s, because the opening is not as big.
If 460 litres aren’t enough, you can fold down the back seats using levers inside the boot opening. You’ll need to lean in and give them a shove to get them to lie flat.
Need more space? There’s a Shooting Brake estate version that has more room.
Interior style carries on the good looks of the exterior, but the controls on the steering wheel aren’t totally user-friendly
In a rational world, people would buy the A-Class rather than the CLA. But thankfully, we’re not obliged to let our heads make every decision. The CLA looks gorgeous, inside and out.
To be fair, the A-Class is a bit of a looker too, and the cabins are very similar. When you first clap eyes on the inside of the CLA it’s hard not to be impressed.
Every model has twin 10.25-inch screens, one of which takes the place of regular dials, and one of which handles the sat nav and infotainment.
Both screens look stunning, with crisp displays and graphics that wouldn’t look out of place on a high-end tablet or desktop computer.
The instrument display can be configured to your heart’s content to show different information using the controls on the right-hand side of the steering wheel.
You have a few ways to control the MBUX infotainment screen. You can prod the screen itself, use the touchpad, or the slightly fiddly controls on the left-hand side of the steering wheel. Oh, and you can also shout ‘Hey Mercedes’ and start barking orders and hope that your car understands. In fairness, it usually does, and you don’t have to use specific phrases. It’s like having a conversation with a patient personal assistant who won’t call HR if you lose your temper.
This may sound a bit complicated, and it is at first. But it’s worth persevering because the system is not as fiddly as it seems, and once you find the control method that works best for you the others can be ignored.
The twin screens aren’t the only things that look great. The chunky three-spoke wheel, the circular air vents, and the classy metallic finishes are stunning. It’s only when you take a closer look that you notice some flimsy switchgear and scratchy plastics here and there. The quality doesn’t go as deep as it does in the cabin of an Audi A3 Saloon, for example.
If you’re thinking about the CLA as your next company car, go for the 250e plug-in hybrid. It has by far the lowest emissions in official tests, so business drivers will have rock-bottom tax bills. As well as helping your bank balance, carbon dioxide emissions of 24-30g/km have got to be good for your green conscience.
You’ll benefit if you are spending your own money too. Fuel costs should be very low. It can achieve 282.5mpg according to the official figures, although how close you get to that will depend on how often you recharge.
There’s a saving to be made on Vehicle Excise Duty as well, although it’s a modest £10 per year saving for five years after the first year’s tax expires.
For high-mileage private buyers, ignore how unfashionable diesel has become and look at the CLA 220d. The up to 56.5mpg it achieves in official tests might be way off the plug-in hybrid’s figures, but if you need to drive from one end of the country to the other we’d bet on the diesel being more economical.
The petrols are also quite fuel efficient. The CLA 180 returns up to 46.3mpg, while the CLA 200 returns 46.3mpg.
If you are wondering about the fuel economy of the Mercedes-AMG performance models, you’re probably considering the wrong car.
The safety gurus at Euro NCAP tested the Mercedes CLA back in 2019 and awarded the car the maximum five stars. The CLA scored 96% for adult occupant protection, and 91% for child occupant safety. Pedestrian protection earned a 91% score, and the safety assistance systems earned a 75% rating.
Standard safety features include an active bonnet, which detects an impact and rises up by 65mm in a collision with a pedestrian. Active Lane Keeping Assist, which steers the car back to the centre of the lane if it starts to drift without indicating, is also fitted to all models.
Security kit includes an alarm and immobiliser.
The CLA is a niche model and doesn’t tend to feature in owner satisfaction or reliability surveys. However, Mercedes as a brand doesn’t usually do as well as you might expect, finishing at best mid-field, depending on the survey.
The A-Class, on which the CLA is based, doesn't tend to show very strongly in reliability studies.
Like other Mercedes models, the CLA comes with a three-year warranty which should cover you if problems do crop up.