From the moment the current generation A-Class concept broke cover, Mercedes made it clear that here was a car to bring down the average age of the Mercedes buyer – and so in the spirit of things, the editor let me have the CLA for its first month on our fleet (though I suspect that’s because he was having a whale of a time in the G 63 AMG). It’s based on the same platform as the A-Class but with its swooping roofline it looks anything but a booted hatch. It is a four-door coupe, a segment pioneered by the CLS all those years ago, and I have to admit the CLA looks damn sexy. Beneath those head-turning lines you have a range of engines and trims, including a four-wheel drive AMG version, but our longtermer is the more sensible diesel.
Refinement of the 2.1-litre diesel is good but there’s no mistaking you’re in a diesel. With 134bhp on tap she’s quick enough and even though power is delivered only to the front wheels traction is pretty good, even on wet surfaces. Turbo lag is minimal and the seven-speed twin clutch gearbox is very quick if a little jerky while moving from a stand still.
What I quite like are the compact dimensions and the good visibility all round, which makes it easy to drive in the city. There isn’t a huge amount of feedback, but steering feel is decent and with suspension tuned for tight body control and sportiness, the CLA feels quite athletic whenever the roads open up. I’m sure it will be great fun on the Lavasa road outside of Pune that we frequent.
The one big drawback of the car is its stiff ride quality. The suspension is simply too firm for our poorly maintained roads, particularly now that the monsoons have struck. The car is much better suited to smooth tarmac, and gets easily upset over broken patches transmitting every bump to its occupants. Thanks to its stiff suspension, the way the car thumps over broken surfaces also furrows your brow.
The generous boot means practicality shouldn’t be an issue (though the spare tyre strapped in does eat into space), and I’m hoping the editor continues to run more AMGs so that I can experience what the CLA feels like on my highway runs to Mumbai and back.
Date acquired: June 2017
Duration of test: 1 month
Total mileage: 10,924km
Mileage this month: 205km
Overall kmpl: 12.1kmpl
Costs this month: Nil