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Mercedes-Benz CLA 200

less is more.

Mercedes shrinked the CLS. And as more good news they added a some curves, bulges and lots of chrome. As a result the – so called – CLA is even better looking than ist bigger brother – even if the back (again) isn’t. But there will be a Shooting Brake version of the CLA, so that will be fixed too.

Mercedes-Benz CLA in St.Tropez

Despite that issue the guys at Mercedes are very excited about their new model. Not only because of the style, but because of its sportiness. Even if the CLA is based on the A-Class and therefore front-wheel drive rather than a classic RWD-layout they told us how much fun it is to drive with the McPherson strut at the front and the multi-link axle at the back.

Mercedes-Benz CLA in St.Tropez

That is why we climbed into the CLA 250. It is the most powerful version yet (the CLA 45 AMG will be presented in New York next week) and promised the most driving pleasure down at the twisty roads next to Saint Tropez. But a big promise was all it made. From a clever and state-of-the-art equipped 2-litre turbocharged engine with 211PS and 350Nm of torque you expect just more. Sure, you can excuse the sound, but not the way it delivers its power. There is lots of low-end torque and even plenty in the midrange, but the more you come near the redline, the less the engine wants to rev. It feels almost strangled.

Mercedes-Benz CLA in St.Tropez

And so more like a diesel than a razor-sharp top of the range petrol. But the engine is not the only problem oft he CLA 250, the 7G-MCT gearbox is another one. In ECO-Mode it runs up the gears like a maniac, even in town it shifts up to seven. And then, when you want to overtake it will leave you there for too long until it kicks down three or four gears at once. But don’t be fooled – SPORT-Mode is even worse. Put it in S and the CLA thinks he is a SLS Black on his Nürburgring record-attempt.. All the time.

Mercedes-Benz CLA in St.Tropez

But when the CLA 250 necessarily comes with the multi-clutch gearbox just take the CLA 200 with the manual option. Why? Because all is well then. Sure, the 1.6 with its 156PS won’t win prices in drag-racing, but it is enough most of the time. And if there are rivals such as a Golf GTI or Focus ST you just have to push harder. Because the chassis of the CLA is great. Proper balance, enough comfort and yet on the safe side if you are not really concentrating. The understeer won’t annoy you for long, but when you really get going most of it is gone, due to a great amount throttle adjustability. And that really is a first for a small Merc. Even the steering is suprisingly accurate.

Mercedes-Benz CLA in St.Tropez

So if you want a stylish car that is able to put a big smile on your face, even if it doesn’t win all the races out there – keep the CLA 200 in mind. (And if you love winning just wait `til next weeks arrival oft he CLA 45 AMG…)

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