“Slumming again?” That’s a question worth asking about a $30,000 Benz that also will be the first front-wheel-drive vehicle that the automaker has ever sold in America. But Mercedes badly needs to grow its youth market and lower fleet-wide fuel economy, so “this new bargain Benz” studiously avoids a cut-rate feel. “Everything you see, touch, or feel has been tailored to the standards” that its older siblings have set, starting with the “knee-weakening good looks” of its coupe-like exterior.
Car and Driver
That sloped roof has its drawbacks. “Unless your friends are Snooki-sized with the tolerance of a Buddhist, we recommend reserving the rear seats for kids.” But driving the CLA-250 should prove far more pleasurable. This is a “nimbler Benz” than today’s C-Class sedans, and the turbo-charged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine “provides plenty of on-demand thrust.” Our biggest gripe: The “aggravating” timing of gear shifts made by the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Still, no production vehicle has ever achieved a lower drag coefficient, and the resulting absence of wind noise adds to the overall impression of quality. “Well-built and well-equipped,” this baby Benz does what it needed to: It shows there actually is a way to “get the prestige of a Mercedes for the price of a bland mid-sized sedan.”