2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class was new.


Performance: 8.2

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA250’s four-cylinder engine is strong enough for most driving situations, according to auto writers. The high-performance CLA45 AMG is more enjoyable to drive, auto journalists say, due to its more powerful engine, standard all-wheel drive and handling that’s more balanced.

  • "Most consumers will find the 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 quite agreeable to drive on their daily commutes. Even if you've owned rear-wheel-drive Mercedes sedans in the past, you'll be hard-pressed to tell that the CLA250 is front-wheel drive, as it accelerates and steers with the precision of more elite Benz models." -- Edmunds
  • "If the standard 208-horsepower engine isn't enough for you despite the excellent transmission, check out the CLA45 AMG. Its engine pumps 355 horsepower through all four wheels, plus it offers a stiffer suspension, better brakes and other performance upgrades." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Does this feel like a Mercedes-Benz? Yes. It also feels like a front-wheel-drive car, but we have a feeling that people looking to put the CLA in their driveway won't care. From the column shift lever to the accurate steering, the CLA is familiar to anybody who has driven its larger siblings." -- Popular Mechanics (2014)
  • "The standard CLA250 delivers solid, predictable handling via a front-wheel-drive platform, which is a first-time offering for North American Mercedes-Benz buyers. While the available 4Matic version delivers sportier, more balanced handling, the AMG version takes full advantage of the 4Matic's all-wheel-drive layout to pump more oopmh onto the road via all four wheels." -- AutoTrader (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 CLA250 comes standard with a 208-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed automated manual transmission. The CLA45 AMG comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 355 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, and a seven-speed automated manual transmission. According to Mercedes-Benz, the CLA45 AMG accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. Both CLA-Class models have a stop-start feature that shuts the engine off when the car is stationary to conserve fuel. The CLA250 gets 26/38 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA, which is excellent for the class.

Critics think the CLA250’s four-cylinder engine provides strong acceleration, although if you want plentiful power and bristling acceleration, the CLA45 AMG is the model to choose. Some reviewers like the seven-speed automated manual transmission for its quick shifts, but others find it is clunky in city driving and traffic and works more effectively when driving at high speeds.

  • "It's quick off the line, thanks to the excellent 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and only at the most extreme cornering limits do you notice front-end ‘plowing’ in a way that belies its FWD origins." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "In addition to its sizzling acceleration, the CLA45 has plenty of personality. Select Sport mode and you'll hear crackles and pops from the exhaust during both up- and downshifts." -- Edmunds
  • The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic defaults to an efficiency mode when the car is turned on, and it has a preference for high gears and is reluctant to downshift. It's not a problem during normal driving, but on adrenaline-inducing roads it's necessary to switch to sport mode or shift using the steering wheel paddles." -- Popular Mechanics (2014)
  • "Power from the diminutive turbocharged 4-cylinder doesn't feel explosive or untamed but smooth and progressive, with a strong urgency thanks to the flexibility of the 7-speed gearbox. The transmission tends to be jerky during stop-and-go traffic, though its adaptive tuning seemed to soften up gear shifts when we simmered our driving style down. As with many performance-focused gearboxes, harder driving yields quicker shifts, which makes the CLA45 feel more in its element when it's being driven like it was stolen." -- AutoTrader (2014)

Handling and Braking

The 2015 CLA250 has front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is standard on the CLA45 AMG and available on the CLA250. According to test drivers, the CLA250 is an athletic handler when cornering, and they add that the all-wheel drive CLA-Class does a good job distributing power to the front and rear wheels for better balance during spirited driving. Some auto writers complain that the CLA-Class has a very rigid ride, and that many drivers may find it uncomfortable. They say the steering is precise, and that the CLA250 has strong brakes, but that the CLA45 AMG’s brakes are quite touchy.

  • Around turns, the CLA45 offers tenacious grip and guided-missile determination. But the cost of this handling prowess is an even firmer ride quality that might be too much even for drivers who want an authentic sport-sedan experience. Also, the CLA45's performance-oriented brakes are very sensitive and grab with the slightest touch of the pedal. …" -- Edmunds
  • While the suspension felt stiff and noncompliant on bumpy city roads, the glassy smooth tarmac of the Parkway revealed responsive handling and impressive grip." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "And the fun continues as the roads twist. The chassis reacts to steering inputs immediately, the body stays flat, and tires grip quite well. We bet the CLA would shock more than a couple of folks at an autocross competition." -- Road and Track (2014)
  • "Push the CLA hard into a corner and it responds willingly, but steering with the drive wheels eventually reaches a limit that results in mild understeer. We also sampled the 4Matic all-wheel-drive CLA, which sends power to the rear wheels as needed, and found it more eager to jump out of hairpins and more stable though high-speed corners." -- Popular Mechanics (2014)
  • "Steering and braking feel first-rate. The front-drive 250 lacks the sprightly feel it likely would have if it were rear-drive. The AMG version has AWD standard, giving it a more-balanced feel." -- USA Today (2014)

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