2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

Performance


MSRP
$33,100
U.S. News Best Price Program

2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 6.7

Performance is the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA's strong suit. It's lively yet poised and refined yet ready to play. An energetic four-cylinder engine and a quick-shifting automatic transmission are standard, delivering superb fuel economy for this class. A potent AMG edition boasts a robust engine, performance-grade components, and all-wheel drive.

  • "Performance aficionados will love the immense power, stiffer suspension and upgraded brakes found on the AMG CLA45, a car capable of rocketing to 60 mph in just over four seconds." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • Meanwhile, the 375-hp AMG CLA45 promises to keep your heart racing. 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. 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 (2017)
  • "The CLA may be Mercedes' least expensive model, but it doesn't feel cheap to drive. The entire structure feels solid and substantial, which is quite the accomplishment given the CLA's light 3,262 pound curb weight." -- Left Lane News (2016)

Acceleration and Power

Clever tuning of the CLA means that in addition to sprinting quickly from a stop, it's also very fuel-efficient. The base engine (a 208-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder) receives high praise for its brisk acceleration and smooth power delivery. Its fuel economy rating is one of the highest in our luxury small car rankings, at 24 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.

Even more exhilarating is the AMG CLA 45. Under its hood is a meaty 375-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Like the base engine, the AMG edition comes with a refined and mostly responsive seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Gas mileage is estimated at 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

  • "With its 208-hp four-cylinder and a quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic, the CLA 250 gets up to speed effortlessly, especially from 20 mph on. In our testing, the CLA covered 0-60 mph in a respectably quick 6.4 seconds." -- Edmunds
  • "On paper, the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder under the hood of the CLA250 doesn't sound very impressive. It puts out 208 horsepower, and routes it to the front or all four wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. But the key is the turbocharged engine's torque: It spins out 258 lb-ft from 1,250 rpm to 4,000 rpm, the meat of the powerband where you'll spend most of the time. The upshot is that you get smooth and strong acceleration regardless of what gear you're in." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "The CLA 250's engine is punchy enough to reach highway speeds in short order. The sprint from standstill to 60 mph takes a brisk 6.9 seconds. Power comes on in a smooth, linear fashion as the throttle pedal dips toward the floor. Gear changes from the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission are similarly silky. The driver can put it in D and forget about it, or use the steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles whenever the desire to be more engaged takes hold." -- Autotrader (2018)

Handling and Braking

The CLA is an agile, stable sedan. It stays composed through corners and has precise steering. You can adjust steering, throttle, and shift points using the Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Individual drive modes. AMG models get an added Sport+ mode to further augment performance. The suspension system adequately keeps the body in check, but between its taut tuning and the run-flat tires, the ride can sometimes feel too harsh on coarse roads. Front-wheel drive is standard in the base model; all-wheel drive is available for $2,000 in the CLA 250 and standard in the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45. A faster adjusting Ride Control Sport Suspension system and Race driving mode are optional with the AMG edition.

  • "The CLA 250 has enough poise and control to feel stable on a twisty road or highway off-ramp curve." -- Edmunds
  • The steering is nice and responsive, and you have to push the CLA to its very edge to feel the kind of understeer that betrays its front-drive architecture. However, that limit's higher than most drivers will explore, and the AWD model mitigates it significantly while adding all-weather peace of mind. All that good handling does come at the expense of ride quality, which has a hard time absorbing small impacts such as expansion joints and the like." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "To save the weight and space of a spare wheel, the use of run-flat tires imparts a harsher ride than is usually associated with Mercedes-Benz. Riding on the optional 18-in wheels means a smaller and therefore less pliant tire sidewall, which only adds to the firmness. For everyday driving, 17-in wheels could be a better bet." -- Autotrader (2018)
U.S. News Best Price Program

2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

MSRP: $33,100 - $53,100

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