Mercedes-Benz CLA Review

Sweeping coupe styling certainly makes a visual impact, but the CLA is just not as practical as the A-Class upon which it is based

Strengths & weaknesses

  • More desirable than a hatchback
  • More tech than the competition
  • More entertaining to drive
  • The petrol engine is a little noisy
  • Firm suspension compared to rivals
  • Simply not as spacious as a hatchback
Mercedes-Benz CLA Class prices from £11,995.
Finance from £214.23 / month.

A quick browse of the Mercedes CLA brochure gives a good indication of who this vehicle is marketed towards. Images of young, trendy folk that like to go on weekend trips with their pals litter the pages and it’s easy to see why: the achingly cool sweeping roofline and overtly stylish flourishes of the CLA place panache over practicality.

This is a car for those who perhaps don’t want the slightly stuffy and reserved image of a family hatchback, but instead want the cool points of a sporty coupe that boasts fun handling characteristics while keeping the practicality of rear doors.

The CLA does all of the above extremely well, but still manages to just about cram four adults into its tech-laden interior.

It's based on the same basic underpinnings as the A-Class and B-Class, but it has a character of its own, offering a slightly more engaging and sportier drive than its regular hatchback siblings thanks to some tweaks to the suspension.

The range of engines is broadly similar to those found in the A-Class, but those wanting a more overtly sporting drive should look towards the CLA 35 and CLA 45 models, which have been fettled by Mercedes’ revered tuning arm AMG.

These are a lot more expensive (and more aggressive to pilot) but all CLA customers get to at least sample some of the AMG styling thanks to Mercedes opting to ditch its lesser trim levels and start with the lavish and sporty-feeling AMG Line trim.

This, naturally, makes entry into the world of CLA more expensive than normal, but does mean that a seven-inch digital instrument display and 10.3-inch touchscreen media system come as standard. It’s all part of Mercedes' new 'MBUX' system, which also includes voice activated controls via its 'Hey Mercedes' software.

It works surprisingly well and adds an additional tech flourish to an already very upmarket feeling interior. Heated front seats, keyless start and go functionality and a soft leather steering wheel all come as standard, for example.

Those wanting the space and practicality of a typical family hatchback will likely be put off by the slightly claustrophobic interior of the CLA, which makes it tough for taller adults to sit in the surprisingly firm rear seats.

Boot space is pretty good at 460-litres, stretching a little further should you opt for the more expensive Shooting Brake body style - which is more like an estate - where it increases marginally to 505 litres. To put that in perspective, an A-Class hatchback only manages 420 litres in its largest guise.

Perhaps more importantly for those buyers looking to stand out from the crowd, the CLA lacks any natural rivals. The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is slightly cheaper at £24,490 but isn’t anywhere near as pretty, while something like the Audi A3 saloon is similar in tone but is smaller overall and less luxurious inside.

The price (prices start at more than £30,000 for the CLA) and practicality sacrifice might seem steep to many, but it is highly likely the CLA’s attractive looks and luxurious interior are reasons alone for most to take the plunge. Furthermore, go used and the CLA represents much better value for money, with lower initial costs and strong value PCP finance monthly payments, thanks to the fact the car should still be worth a lot at the end of the contract.

Key facts

Warranty 3-years / Unlimited miles
Boot space 460-505 litres
Width 1,830mm
Length 4,695mm
Height 1,430mm
Tax £170 to £1,280

Best Mercedes-Benz CLA Class for...

Best for Economy – Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 d AMG Line

The only diesel model in the range emits the least CO2 and is therefore cheaper to tax. It also returns the highest fuel consumption figures.

Best for Families – Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 d AMG Line Premium Plus

The big diesel is the best blend of comfort and performance, while this trim line sports some extra niceties to make everyday life easier.

Best for Performance – Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4Matic+ Premium Plus

Although expensive, this is a real fire-cracker of a set-up, with the 0-62mph sprint dispatched in just 4.0 seconds. That's seriously fast for this type of car.


  • 2012 A Concept Style Coupe is revealed at the Paris motor show and hints at things to come
  • 2013 Mercedes reveals a production version of the concept, cited as the most aerodynamic production vehicle on sale at the time.
  • 2015 A slightly elongated Shooting Brake body style goes on sale
  • 2019 The model is given a major overhaul for its second generation

Understanding Mercedes-Benz CLA Class names

Body Style Coupe

The Mercedes CLA is offered in both a standard coupe body style and a Shooting Brake, which is a more sporting version of an estate car.

Engine 220 d

Four petrol variants and one diesel are on offer here, with higher numbers typically representing more powerful engines (with the exception of the range-topping CLA 35 AMG and CLA 45 S performance models) and diesel models bearing a d after the number.

Trim AMG Line

There are three simple trim lines on offer here: AMG Line, AMG Line Premium and AMG Line Premium Plus. The hot Mercedes-AMG models feature their own levels of specification.

Gearbox 7 Speed Auto

A seven-gear automatic transmission is standard across the range, with only the diesel and two AMG-fettled models featuring the new eight-speed automatic.

Mercedes-Benz CLA Class Engines

Petrol: CLA 180, 200, 220, 250 Diesel: CLA 220 d

The engine line-up will be familiar to anyone who has either looked at or owned a Mercedes-Benz in the last couple of years. Perhaps the only difference here is a lack of choice for diesel buyers, who are restricted to just one 2.0-litre unit.

It’s a shame, because the diesel engine actually suits the luxurious, cruising nature of the car, returns the highest fuel economy figures and isn’t that far off most of the petrol engines in terms of performance. It also feels like one of the most refined units here.

Wring the neck of the lower powered 1.3-litre petrol engines and they sound harsh and overworked, while the 0-62mph sprint time of 9.0-seconds in the smallest capacity CLA 180 seems a bit sluggish for a car sporting these kind of curves.

The 2.0-litre CLA 220 and CLA 250 boast much better performance figures, but they are relatively thirsty on fuel, officially returning around 40mpg. But you can expect those numbers to drop if you are heavy with your right foot.

On top of this, the seven-speed automatic gearbox mated to the majority of the engines is a little slow and ponderous. An eight-gear version attached to the diesel engine and the more potent AMG models is much better and offers a more engaging drive all round.





0 - 62mph

Top speed

CLA 180




9.0 secs


CLA 200




8.2 secs


CLA 220




7.0 secs


CLA 250




6.3 secs


CLA 220 d




7.1 secs


Mercedes-Benz CLA Class Trims

AMG Line, AMG Line Premium, AMG Line Premium Plus

Mercedes has done away with its more entry-level trims found on models such as the A-Class and B-Class, instead opting to raise the entry pricing and bundling more kit as standard onto its ‘more affordable’ cars. This makes it pricey if you're buying a brand new one, though used buyers will get more for their money.

This means customers get the fantastic twin screen media system with voice command functionality, sharp LED lights, a black leather interior, heated front seats and privacy glass as standard across the range. There is also a huge array of active safety systems, such as lane keep assist and active brake assist, as well as smartphone integration and wireless device charging.

The remainder of the trim levels essentially bundle in a selection of desirable optional extras, such as the 10.3-inch digital instrument display and an augmented reality head-up display on AMG Line Premium cars.

Cars at the very top of the specification food chain feature additional design elements, like a panoramic sunroof, and some interesting tech features. One such example is the ‘ENERGIZING package’ found on AMG Line Premium Plus cars. This features various pre-built settings that control climate, ambient lighting, music, and seat functions to ‘support you physically and mentally’. It can even be hooked up to a smartwatch to determine the best programme for your current mood.

Mercedes-Benz CLA Class Reliability and warranty

The CLA is a relatively new car, so there isn’t too much information surrounding its reliability. The unlimited mileage warranty will add peace of mind to buyers, while Mercedes’ reputation for quality is also high.

Used Mercedes-Benz CLA Class

A new generation of vehicle inevitably means prices of the previous version are going to plummet, and it is a similar case here. Older CLA models with middling mileage on the clock can be snapped up for just  or  per month on BuyaCar, with a wide selection of Shooting Brake estate models and standard coupe body styles.

Other Editions

CLA Class (2013 – 2019)

Sleek styling and a striking interior make the Mercedes CLA a desirable - but expensive - small saloon