Mercedes CLA Review
The Mercedes CLA Coupe is a stylish four-door alternative to the high-tech A-Class hatchback with just as many high-tech gizmos in its seriously flashy interior.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Stylish looks
- Lovely interior
- Quiet and comfortable
What's not so good
- Quite expensive
- Boot is tricky to load
- Cramped back seats
Mercedes CLA: what would you like to read next?
The Mercedes CLA Coupe is a more stylish, sportier-looking alternative to the futuristic Mercedes A-Class. It shares plenty of features with this hatchback model, though, and looks almost identical from the front.
Step around to the side, and the Mercedes CLA Coupe looks more like a CLS that’s shrunk in the wash. Those ground-hugging bumpers, angular brake lights and curved windows all look like they belong on something much bigger, and much more expensive.
Climb inside, and things look equally dramatic. You get the same huge dual-screen infotainment system as in the A-Class in every model and plenty of ambient lighting to highlight the brushed metal trims and gorgeous turbine-like air vents.
You also get Mercedes’ latest MBUX infotainment system as standard. This understands a wide range of commands and can even do augmented reality by overlaying directions on a live video feed from the CLA Coupe’s front bumper 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 doesn’t just come with plenty of tech – it’s comfortable, too. Well, at least in the front where you get leather seats as standard with plenty of support in all the right places. Convince tall friends to climb in the back and they’ll find the CLA Coupe feels more like a plush coffin than a comfortable four-door coupe.
At least the boot’s pretty roomy – it’s more spacious than the boxier A-Class’ load bay – but the narrow opening makes it a real pain to load bulky luggage.
Not that you’ll be using the Mercedes CLA Coupe for dragging hefty loads to the tip – more likely you’ll be blasting down quiet backroads. It might be based on the fairly humble A-Class, but the CLA Coupe gets more advanced suspension as standard which makes it feel more agile to drive.
If long motorway journeys are more your thing, you’ll be disappointed to hear that you can’t get the Mercedes CLA Coupe with a diesel engine – yet. Wait until summer 2019 and the quiet and economical 1.3 and 2-litre petrol models will be joined by a couple of 1.5-litre diesel engines which are impressively quiet and cost even less to run on long journeys.
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 Coupe has one of the most eye-catching cabins of any small car and packs plenty of high-tech features as standard but it still feels a little cheap in places.
There’s loads of space in the CLA Coupe’s front seats and it has a pretty large boot, but the back seats are very cramped and the small boot opening makes loading large items tricky.
Tall adults will have a few choice words about how little headroom there is in the back of the CLA Coupe, but at least there’s plenty of space in the front and the boot’s pretty big.
The Mercedes CLA Coupe’s front seats are spacious and come with enough adjustment as standard to help you get comfortable if you’re rather tall. You can adjust the steering wheel for reach and height that ensures you get a good view of the digital driver’s display, too.
The front seats come with plenty of bolstering as standard which helps hold you in place in tight corners, but you’ll have to pay extra for a top-spec AMG Line Premium Plus model if you want electrically adjustable seats with a memory function and adjustable lumbar support. The latter’s especially useful because it helps stave off lower-back pain on long drives.
These high-spec cars also come with a panoramic glass roof which makes the Mercedes CLA Coupe’s interior feel a bit more spacious without cutting into the available headroom.
Unfortunately, spacious isn’t a word you’d use to describe the Mercedes CLA Coupe’s back seats, where headroom is very tight whether you pick a model with the extra-large glass roof or not. Any six-foot-tall passengers in the outer seats will find their heads brushing against the roof and those in the middle seat will have to slump down just to fit inside. Smaller passengers will still find the central seat uncomfortably raised over the outer two, too.
There isn’t enough knee room for a six-foot-tall passenger to sit behind an equally tall driver either, but at least there’s space for everyone’s feet under the front seats – even in their lowest position.
It isn’t particularly easy to fit a child seat either. Sure, the Isofix anchor points are easy to access, but the Mercedes CLA Coupe’s narrow door openings and low, sloping roof make it tricky to secure the seat and strap in a child.
The Mercedes CLA Coupe comes with a decent number of handy cubby spaces in its stylish cabin. You get two tall door bins in the front and a relatively deep storage bin under the central front armrest.
The glovebox isn’t particularly big, though, and the two cupholders in the centre console are too large to hold small cans or coffees particularly securely. The rear door bins aren’t as spacious as those in the front either, and you don’t get any cupholders or a folding rear armrest.
The Mercedes CLA Coupe has 470 litres of bootspace which is around 30% more than you get in the boxier A-Class hatchback. It’s roomier than an Audi A3 Saloon and a BMW 2 Series too and has more than enough space to carry a few suitcases or a set of golf clubs.
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. The Mercedes CLA Coupe’s rather narrow boot opening and tall boot lip mean it isn’t particularly easy to load bulky items and you can’t carry tall boxes like in the A-Class with its removable load cover.
There’s a small amount of extra storage under the Mercedes CLA Coupe’s boot floor and you get an extra storage bin either side of the boot, but there aren’t many shopping hooks or tether points to help you secure fragile items.
You can fold the middle rear seat down to carry very long luggage poking through from the boot between a pair of passengers, or you can fold all the seats together using levers by the boot lid. Annoyingly, these only unlatch the seats – you still have to lean in and push them down yourself.
If you like to have your driver’s seat positioned quite far back, you’ll have to move the front seats forward to allow the tall back seats with their built-in headrests to flip all the way down.
With all the back seats folded, the Mercedes CLA Coupe’s boot is large, wide and roomy enough to carry a bike – if you can squeeze it through the rather narrow boot opening, that is. There’s no step behind the back seats either, and the boot floor only ramps up slightly behind the front seats so it’s easy to slide in heavy luggage.
The Mercedes CLA Coupe is more fun to drive than the A-Class hatchback and just as relaxing to cruise in. You can’t get it with a diesel engine yet, though.
If you’re looking for a small car that’s comfortable, very quiet at motorway speeds and still quite good fun to drive on a country road, the Mercedes CLA Coupe is a good choice.
Currently, you can only get the Mercedes CLA Coupe with one of four petrol engines. The most affordable CLA 180 1.3-litre models will be most suitable for pottering around town. They produce a modest 136hp so take a fairly sedate nine seconds to reach 60mph from rest. If you fancy something a little faster, there’s also a more powerful C200 163hp version of the same engine which completes the same sprint in a little over eight seconds. Mercedes claims both will return around 45mpg, but you should see a figure closer 40mpg in normal driving conditions.
If you spend more time on motorways, one of the faster C220 and C250 2.0-litre models will be worth considering. The former produces 190hp and accelerates from 0-60mph in seven seconds while the latter takes just 6.3 seconds thanks to its more powerful 224hp engine. Both have more than enough poke to breeze past slow-moving traffic and return claimed economy of around 40mpg. You should be able to manage a figure in the high thirties in normal driving conditions.
You can also get the C220 model with four-wheel drive for extra grip in slippery conditions, but it makes the Mercedes CLA Coupe a little thirstier and no faster.
Every CLA Coupe comes with a seven-speed automatic gearbox which changes gear smoothly and doesn’t jerk at low speeds. It helps make light work of heavy traffic too and responds reasonably quickly to the paddles on the steering wheel if you fancy choosing when to change gear yourself.
The Mercedes CLA Coupe’s low roof and narrow windows mean you don’t get quite as good a view out as you do in the boxier A-Class hatchback. That being said, it’s still pretty easy to drive in town for a low-slung four-door coupe. The steering’s nice and light at slow speeds and you get parking sensors and a reversing camera to help prevent low-speed bumps and scrapes as standard across the range.
Once you’ve found your way out of the car park, you’ll find the Mercedes CLA Coupe’s suspension does a good job ironing out bumps and potholes around town and it gets even more comfortable when you head out onto some faster country roads. Every model comes with the same advanced suspension as more powerful versions of the A-Class hatchback which helps make it feel more comfortable and more agile on twisty roads.
It’s also impressively quiet at speed. Sure, you’ll hear a little roar from the tyres on motorways but the Mercedes CLA Coupe’s aerodynamic shape means it produces very little wind noise when you’re cruising along – just the thing when you’re faced with an arduous motorway journey.
It also comes with plenty of driver assistance systems to help make long drives very relaxing. You get cruise control and automatic emergency braking as standard alongside a lane-keeping assistance system that’ll steer for you to keep your car within its lane on the motorway – providing you keep your hands on the steering wheel. It can even find a safe path through roadworks with confusing line markings by following the car in front.