How wrong can you be about a car? Or its looks, anyway. When our longterm Mercedes CLA arrived, I honestly thought it didn’t feel that special. The silver paint looked a bit flat in the gloomy monsoon light and I wasn’t sure about the practicality. But after a couple of months with this Merc, I’ve come to realise that there’s much more to the CLA than just it’s super sleek styling. When the sun came out and glinted off the paint I thought the CLA looked sensational and I feel there aren’t too many rivals that can match it, purely for looks. Every time I see another one on the road, I can’t help but feel happy I’m driving the same car.
With longtermers, we hope to learn something with the car on test every time we get behind the wheel. One of the simplest exercises is to look at the characteristics which stand out and which you wouldn’t think about very much. In the case of the CLA, the looks and the special feeling every time you enter the sporty cabin are the obvious choices. But there’s a very nice hidden factor about the car that you wouldn’t assume. It strikes a great balance between driving a luxury car and being utterly unconcerned about fuel bills. This is what we have come to realise about the CLA 200 d with its efficient 2.1-litre diesel engine. Some would say it’s a bit out of place on such a sporty looking luxury car since it just puts out 134bhp, but in real world conditions this is the formula that works. The luxury, top-end looks and cabin but low fuel consumption and running costs make this car a properly practical choice.
After three months of regular use, I can safely say that this car is very easy to live with on a daily basis. While I’ve never found it underpowered, the CLA isn’t what you’d call very quick either, but the sharp handling and compact dimensions make it an enjoyable car to drive. We have put on MRF’s new Perfinza tyres on the CLA and that has improved the one big drawback that the CLA has, the firm-edged ride. The softer compound tyres have aided the ride a fair bit and helped reduce fatigue, especially since I’ve been using it on my frequent trips between Mumbai and Pune. Wet weather performance has been more than acceptable, given the heavy rainfall we’ve been experiencing and the CLA has been a comfortable and happy highway cruiser, like most vehicles from the Mercedes stable.
You do need to be careful with the car on the pothole infested roads entering Mumbai and within the city itself, but not once has the CLA bottomed out, even with four on board. The car hasn’t missed a beat, of course, and I’ve enjoyed every mile covered. The real world cruising distance of the CLA on a full tank of diesel is in excess of 650 kilometres, with the fuel efficiency figure ranging between 11 to 14kmpl.
With the ride quality improved thanks to the MRF rubber on the car, probably the only thing I didn’t like about the CLA is the slightly restricted all-round visibility and the all-black interiors that give you a slightly claustrophobic feel. Good thing it has a full-length glass sunroof that brightens up the cabin. Other than that, the combination of frugal engine and Merc levels of luxury work well on the CLA.
Date acquired: June 2017
Duration of test: 3 months
Total mileage: 11,826km
Mileage this month: 902km
Overall kmpl: 12kmpl
Costs this month: Nil