Looks good doesn’t it? It’s a thought that runs through my head every morning when I walk down to my garage and blip the key of our new longterm test car. More than any other Merc, the CLA is the car that is at the forefront of lowering the average of the Mercedes buyer, both in perception as well as actual numbers. So while the new E-Class looks amazingly similar to the S-Class and C-Class makes a mighty fine attempt at adding to the head scratching, the CLA with it’s swoopy coupe-like roofline remains distinctively sporty; distinctively young and stylish. And the frameless doors, a novelty in the segment, just adds to that cool factor.
The cabin is similarly young and sporty but the all-black theme can make it feel rather cooped-in particularly if you’ve got somebody sitting at the back. Now that the sun is invariably hiding behind heavy monsoon clouds, I find myself keeping the sunroof open (the net, not the full roof) to let some light stream into the cabin and make it seem slightly more spacious. The one-piece seats though are nice and sporty as is the flat-bottom steering wheel with paddleshifters for the 7-speed twin-clutch gearbox.
The dynamics of the CLA are also quite sporty. The ride quality is quite stiff, very unlike a Mercedes, but the upshot is that on twisty roads, the Mercedes CLA 220 d drives unlike any other luxury car with very good turn-in, very little body roll and great resistance to understeer. This front-wheel drive platform is genuinely involving and great fun to throw around, aided by strong brakes and a quick shifting gearbox. This is not a car that will twitch and wag at the rear; this is a precise and pointy FWD platform that allows you to carry high corner speeds and rewards a neat and clean driving style. I must add that the diesel engine, while quick enough, has very good fuel efficiency even with spirited driving.
Like all new Mercs, the CLA too comes with run-flat tyres but our car – obviously having gone through spirited road testing with magazine journos – is running different tyres. This gives me an opportunity to try out a few other tyres available in the replacement market with the twin aims of keeping up the handling while adding some comfort for everyday use. Watch this space and we’ll keep you posted.
Date acquired: June 2017
Duration of test: 2 month
Total mileage: 11,826km
Mileage this month: 902km
Overall kmpl: 12kmpl
Costs this month: Nil