India’s No 2 luxury car manufacturer, Mercedes Benz India has announced an exciting new strategy – ’15 in 15′. This strategy begins with the launch of CLA Class, arguably their most important launch in 2015. Rush Lane drives the new car, and here is our 2015 Mercedes CLA Class Review.
Introduction: First showcased as Concept Style Coupe back in 2012, Mercedes Benz CLA Class was officially unveiled at the 2013 Detroit Motor Show. Subsequently, it was launched in major automotive markets across the world. Produced at Mercedes Benz plant in Hungary, within the first year itself, the production crossed 100,000 units, owing to huge demand.
Why these huge numbers? Though an entry level luxury sedan from Mercedes Benz, the new CLA Class does not compromise on performance, safety, or luxury. All that you expected from a Mercedes, is offered as expected with the CLA Class. This, in addition to an attractive price tag, has created a huge demand for what is now the most affordable Mercedes Benz sedan in the world.
Exteriors: Based on the MFA architecture, Mercedes CLA Class features a similar front design, which is already seen aboard the new A Class hatchback and GLA Class SUV. To give the front of Mercedes CLA a distinguished character, you have a sporty lower bumper and body lines on the bonnet, which Mercedes calls powerdomes as they give the car a wider and aggressive stance. These same lines are also found on the GLA Class, but not on the A Class.
Apart from this, there is a new front grille. This is exactly the same as seen on A Class, with 302 pin diamonds. The only difference is, the diamonds are coloured black in the case of CLA Class. In the centre of this grille is the famous three pointed star. Other than this, there is a good mix of concave and convex curves in the front, making the CLA Class very attractive.
Moving on to the sides, the two shoulder lines provide structure to the car. You also get chrome strip on the windows, body coloured ORVMs with side indicator, and a five spoke 17 inch alloys, which is exactly the same as seen on the A Class. Tyre size too is same at 225/45. What stands impressive, is coupe styled rear.
Moving on to the rear, the roof merges into the rear windshield and boot in the one effortless curve, adding to the aerodynamics of the CLA Class. The rear features U shaped boot-lid, LED taillights in the shape of sexy eyes, and twin exhausts finished in chrome give the CLA Class a distinctive character.
Interiors: Platform sharing has also resulted in a similar interior, as seen aboard the A Class and GLA Class. What is different, is the addition of a silver cladding on the dashboard. On the GLA Class there is a dark grey cladding, while on the A Class, there is no cladding. The same silver cladding is seen on board the CLA 45 AMG.
Steering wheel is finished in leather, and provides fantastic grip and feel. Apart from controls to MDI and music system, the steering wheel is also mounted with paddles for manual gear-shifts, if you are in the mood for some fun. Apart from this, the Harman Kardon Logic 7 450 Watts system with amplifier and 12 speakers gives an amazing music experience. You also get USB port (2 ports), CD tray, and Bluetooth connectivity to stream your favourite music.
The instrument control features two dials. Inspired from Mercedes F1 Team’s recent victory at the 2014 Formula Grand Prix, these dials feature a black and white chequered flag finish, while the red arrows add a sporty touch to the instrument panel.
The hi-res LCD display in the centre is a multi information display screen. With the touch of a button, you can toggle and check distance to empty, real time mileage, outside temperature, trip, etc. Above this screen, there is another LCD display, which displays real time speed of the car and time.
Mounted on the dashboard is a hi-res colour display, which is your control point to car’s settings, music, navigation, internet, AM/FM radio and much more. This screen features the new 5th generation telematics, delivering better UI and ease of use. You can control the screen the scroll wheel near arm rest, or via steering mounted controls.
In order to activate internet, you need to connect your internet enabled phone to the car, via Bluetooth. Once that connection is made, you can surf internet on the car’s screen. In order to use navigation, you will need a Garmin SD card, which is to be inserted in the slot provided. The navigation system works like a charm.
The seats are finished in leather, and offer very good comfort. The front seats are ergonomically designed to offer lumbar support, in addition to thigh and neck support. Though the headrest is not movable, the design of the seats is such that it offers perfect support to your head while driving.
Legroom and headroom is not at all a problem for front occupants. Rear passengers get ample legroom, but head room might be an issue for tall passengers (over 6.2 feet). Another point worth mention here, though the rear seats have three headrests, its best suited for two passengers. Adding a third passenger in the rear, makes it uncomfortable over longer journeys. The other good reason to avoid a third passenger, is that you can then use the centre arm rest.
Rear vents are also on offer, which do help the cabin get cooler quickly. But they come as optional. Apart from this, rear passengers also get a 12V charging point. The panoramic sunroof does not open as wide as the GLA, thanks to the sloping rear roof.
To keep your belongings, there is ample space inside the cabin.
The frameless doors too offer cubby holes to store bottles and other tit-bits. All doors also feature speakers, giving a surround sound effect.
Boot space stands at a good 470 litres, but the presence of a space-saver, not only eats into most of the space, but also robs you of a flat surface in the boot. Underneath the spare tryre is the first aid kit and tools.
Engine, Performance and Mileage: Offered in a choice of petrol and diesel engine options, Mercedes CLA sedan is powered by the same two engines, which are also seen aboard the GLA. The CLA 200 petrol is powered by a 2.0l inline 4 petrol engine generating 181 hp power at 5500 rpm and 300 Nm torque in the range of 1200 -1400 rpm.
CLA 200 CDI on the other hand is powered by a 2.2 litre inline 4 engine delivering 134 hp and 300 Nm torque. Both variants are mated to a 7 speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. Sending power to front wheels, the petrol variant does 0-100 kmph in 7.8 seconds, while the diesel variant does the same in 9.8 seconds. Top speed of petrol CLA Class is 235 kmph, while that of diesel CLA is 220 kmph.
Mileage claimed by the company for petrol variant is 15.04 kmpl, while that for diesel is 17.90 kmpl. What we managed to achieve during our test drive, petrol – 8 kmpl, diesel 11 kmpl.
Safety Features: Just like every other Mercedes cars, the CLA too promises big on safety features. On board features include comfort suspension, ESP Dynamic Cornering Assist, Attention Assist, ABS, BAS, Adaptive Brake System, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, Hill Start Assist, Acceleration Skid Control, six Airbags, Lamp failure indicator, and Adaptive brake lights flashing.
Driving the Mercedes CLA: With a gross weight of a little over 1.5 tonnes, the new CLA handles the Indian road conditions with ease. Be it bumps, bad roads or potholes, the CLA takes everything in its stride without complaining.
After driving the CLA 45 AMG, we were eager to check the ground clearance of the CLA Class. But as there was no official word on tech specs sheet, we had to test the same in real world conditions. During our drive of about 300 kms, not once did we manage to scrape the underbody. This implies that though the cars are being sold as CBUs, the ground clearance is set to suite Indian road conditions.
Both variants come with three three drive modes – Sport, Manual and Economy. In Sport mode, the focus is on performance, and gear shifts take place near the redline. In Economy mode, focus is on achieving best possible fuel efficiency, and thus gear shift takes place early. In Manual, you have the control to shift gears using the steering mounted paddles.
Speaking about CLA petrol variant, this one is easily the sportier and more agile of the two. If you want performance, than this is the variant for you. Push the accelerator pedal to the ground, and in no time you will find yourself over-speeding. The gearbox is smooth, and quick, giving you one long push into the seat. The engine performs best in the mid range.
The diesel motor on the other hand, is not as sporty. It is more subtle. But, with a little adjustment, once you get to know where the power band is, you will enjoy driving this one as well. Overtaking is hardly an issue. The diesel engine sound does seep into the cabin, but its not annoying. Once you are cruising, you cannot tell if this is a diesel powered car.
Steering feedback is fantastic. Light at low speeds, and starts weighing in at just the right time. Handling corners is tricky, but also fun. If pushing hard, the car does understeer, but well controlled, thanks to ESP Dynamic Cornering Assist (DCA). What this system does is during fast cornering, if the standard ESP registers understeer, the DCA generates selective braking on the front wheel which is on side of the corner. This results in a slight rotational movement along the vertical axis, thus giving you a more precise cornering experience. During all this, you also notice that the body roll is well controlled.
The Continental 245/45/17 fitted on the cars we tested, provided excellent road grip, while all four discs provided excellent braking power. The cabin is cocooned well, and there is hardly any road noise or traffic noise that seeps inside. Another fact worth mentioning, as these are CBU cars (local assembled variants will be launched later this year), they need 95 Octane petrol. This could be a task in itself, as not many pumps offer this grade of fuel.
Verdict: The CLA Class is more of a luxury car, than a performance oriented luxury car. USP of the car is not how it performs on the road, but how it looks on the road. It would be preferred by those who would want to be noticed, which the CLA does without any doubt. Every place we went, the car easily grabbed attention. The car makes you feel special, which is exactly what the target audience would want.
Offered in a choice of of two diesel and one petrol trim, Mercedes CLA Class is aimed at young successful individuals. Priced in the range of Rs 31.50 lakhs to Rs 35.90 lakhs, ex-showroom, easily has the potential to not only bring more buyers to the brand, but also eat into some of the buyers of elder brother, C Class.
Techspecs of CLA Class for India