Launched: Mercedes-Benz CLA

The hip sedan

Caution caution, I’m about to go into grumpy old man mode. What happened to common courtesy and good manners? Why do our lives move quicker and quicker? Who needs all these new cars we have on our market? Take the new Mercedes-Benz CLA, for example.

Who is it aimed at? Unconventional, younger, lifestyle-orientated customers, ladder climbers and innovators who are looking for a confident, sporty, untamed, compact C-segment sedan with sporty, powerful design language and an aggressive, stand-out, dynamic edge to it – according to Mercedes-Benz South Africa.

So what’s wrong with the C-Class? Well, yes, M-B execs were quick to point out, the slightly larger, rear-wheel-drive sedan is more restrained and classic so the new CLA is in no way a C-Class substitute. In fact, it looks, feels and drives differently, for customers who weren’t considering this brand before, also financially.

Isn’t that being greedy? Not really, they would argue, by following the daring CLS designs with a lower price tag, this car lures a completely different *cough* younger *cough* audience and hopefully they’ll stay with the three-pointed star. Merc aims to lead luxury segments by 2020, locally by as early as 2015.

Really. How? Progressive and exciting products, like this CLA with a world-record Cd (aerodynamic) value of just 0.22. All engines are state-of-the-art, turbo-charged four cylinders which comply with Euro 6 emissions regulations; one more than they have to. All petrols are also BlueDirect (direct injection) motors.

Sounds complicated. What else? All CLA’s have an Eco start/stop system to further lower their emissions and consumption. Other standard items, besides most available electric and automatic goodies, are a dynamic DirectSteer system, Attention Assist drowsiness detection and Collision Assist system.

Is that all? Of course not. The CLA is packed with safety features to the tune of five EuroNCAP stars and an advanced award, it boasts a premium interior with lots of individualisation options, differing specification levels and a host of connectivity solutions – more of which will be added in the near future.

Right, which models are available? For you Sir, CLA180 and CLA200 turbo-petrol (90kw/200Nm and 115kW/250Nm) or CLA220 CDI turbo-diesel (125kW/350Nm) with either 6-speed manual or 7-speed double-clutch automatic gearbox (including Eco, Sport and Manual modes with shift paddles).

Both petrol cars claim average fuel consumption of around 5.5L/100km with about 130g CO2/km while the diesel manages 4.5 and 117g. All of them hit 100km/h in eight to nine seconds and can reach 210 to 230km/h. The boot takes 470L, the fuel tank 50+6L, maximum load is 525kg and the turning radius is 11m.

For absolute speed freaks, there’s also the CLA45 AMG which assaults you with another world-beating 265kW and can scare Porsches by hitting 100km/h in 4.6 seconds. After sampling the dynamic CLA range on our launch route, we were given the chance to fling the AMG around an airfield – amazing.

Good Heavens. How much? The CLA45 AMG is about N$675,000 and slightly sold out while the CLA180 costs N$348,700, CLA200 is N$372,200 and the CLA220 CDI will set you back N$397,600. All cars are sold with a 6-year/100,000km full maintenance plan and a choice of seven exterior colours.

From our short drive and all these impressive specs I can confirm that the CLA is not an old man’s car, especially a grumpy one. Judging by the public’s reaction, Mercedes has certainly hit their mark and will attract a lot of hip new clients. And for clients with a new hip, there’s always the C-Class.

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