2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Review

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2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Overview

Fresh from a 2017 refresh, the compact Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class remains largely unchanged for 2018. Still the baby of the Benz lineup, the entry-level CLA 250 “4-door coupe” is the least expensive Mercedes you can buy, although options and the available AMG trim will set you back far more than the $32,400 starting price.

The base front-wheel-drive (FWD) CLA 250 comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission and good for 208 hp and 254 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes claims it can hit 60 mph in 6.9 seconds. Fuel economy is rated at 24 mpg city, 36 highway, 29 combined, and premium gas is required. 17-inch alloy wheels come standard, and the interior gets MB-Tex upholstery and an 8-inch screen in the center of the dash. The all-wheel-drive (AWD) version, the CLA 250 4MATIC, starts at $34,400. It receives the same 7-speed automatic transmission and boasts a slightly faster 0-to-60 time of 6.8 seconds, although fuel economy drops to 23, 32, and 27.

On both CLA 250 variants, a wide range of options are available—either grouped in packages or as standalone upgrades. Highlights include a panoramic sunroof ($1,480), a Smartphone Integration package with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility ($350), heated front seats ($580), Keyless-Go keyless entry and proximity key ignition ($550), a Harmon Kardon Logic7 Surround Sound system ($850), an adjustable suspension ($850), the Parking Pilot self-parking system ($970), and blind-spot detection ($550). An $1,800 Premium package bundles blind-spot assist, Keyless-Go, heated front seats, and SiriusXM radio. For $1,500, the Driver Assistance package will add Distronic adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist to contents of the the Premium package. The Convenience package ($400) comes with auto-dimming side and rear-view mirrors and a garage-door opener, and the Multimedia package ($2,300) includes the Smartpone Integration package and Mercedes’ Comand navigation system. Finally, a $1,650 Interior package adds leather upholstery and multicolor ambient lighting.

For the exterior, you don’t have to spring for the CLA 45 AMG trim to get some AMG-like embellishments. For $2,400, the AMG Line Exterior package adds AMG body styling and wheels in addition to upgraded perforated front brakes. The Night package includes all features from the AMG Line Exterior package as well as gloss-black exterior trim. Finally, the $4,000 AMG Line package brings AMG syling along with a performance suspension, steering, and exhaust; a flat-bottom steering wheel; and brushed aluminum pedals.

But the only way to get true AMG performance is to go for the CLA 45 AMG, which starts at $49,950. Like all AMG cars, it features a handcrafted engine—in this case, a twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder rated at 375 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. It’s good for a 4.1-second sprint to 60 mph and gets fuel-economy numbers of 23, 30, and 26. A 7-speed AMG dual-clutch transmission is standard, as is 4MATIC AWD.

Entertainment and convenience packages for the CLA 45 AMG trim remain largely the same as on the base CLA 250, but it does get a few special options of its own. The AMG Dynamic Plus package ($2,800) adds an AMG-specific sport suspension and a limited-slip front differential, the AMG “Red Cut” Exclusive package ($1,650) comes with higher-end black leather and red seat belts, and the AMG Dinamica Interior package ($850) adds upgraded trim and a performance steering wheel. As a stand-alone option, Recaro front seats will cost you $2,250, while a $4,000 AMG Performance Studio package combines upgraded interior trim, Recaro seats, and a Dinamica steering wheel. Carbon-fiber mirror covers cost $1,200, and a performance exhaust system is an extra $650.

Updated

A member of the New England Motor Press Association who has owned everything from a Town Car to a Prius, Keith has contributed automotive coverage to outlets including Wired, Car & Driver, and USA Today.

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