2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: A Disappointing Year
November 28, 2014
I did not put the key to our 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 back on the car board this morning. Rather, it went into the hand of Ron Montoya, consumer advice editor and car buying/selling extraordinaire, signifying the end of the CLA's year in our fleet. To put it simply, it's been a disappointing year.
One year ago, I was eagerly anticipating the CLA. The idea of a small, German-made car with a torque-rich engine is always appealing to me (seven formative years in a Jetta VR6 will do that to a guy), while its styling evoked a car I have great appreciation for, the Mercedes CLS. Its reasonable price, strong EPA fuel economy and interior/tech controls that were the same as those found in pricier Benzes were other points in its favor. I was even OK that the back seat would most likely be compromised by its styling.
In many ways, all of those promised attributes were delivered upon, and as such I'm quite certain that I liked the CLA250 more than most editors here. It certainly proved to be a suitable companion during road trips to Northern California and Palm Springs. Perhaps this is why I find the CLA250 to be so disappointing since I still think it has a lot of potential. Yet, its well-documented trouble spots need to be ironed out thoroughly before it can realize that potential.
There's the rock-hard ride over bumps, especially in the city, even though we got the smallest wheels available. There's the mushy, unresponsive throttle that conspires with the dual-clutch automated manual transmission to stutter and delay when you want to use the otherwise commendable turbocharged engine. There's the interior materials quality that is a clear step down from other Mercedes and that pales in comparison to the new Audi A3 that seems like a shrunken A6.
And indeed, the A3 in general makes the CLA that much more disappointing. Apart from obviously missing the CLS-like styling, our little Audi long-termer made many of the same promises as the CLA did while showing few if any unexpected vices to this point. Perhaps that will change after it spends a year in our garage itself, but at this point, I know which one I would buy.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 19,540 miles