2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: Likes to Go Fast
November 21, 2014
My first time behind the wheel of the controversial 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 found me driving up to Willow Springs International Raceway, a distance of about 100 miles. It's mainly freeway driving and I was lucky to be going against traffic. Not only did I get to pass miles of stopped traffic going the other way, but I was free to pick my speed — carefully. This car likes to go fast. And in such a well-insulated car, you don't want the first indication of your speed to be flashing lights in your rearview mirror.
As I drove, I thought of the mixed bag of comments this Mercedes has received. I agree with those who love this engine. It's hard to believe it's just a four-cylinder. And being front-wheel drive, while it flies in the face of Mercedes tradition, doesn't detract from the fun factor. But then I began to consider what I had read about the ride quality.
Some of the editors feel the ride is too firm. Others think it handles just fine. Rather than reinventing the wheel (so to speak) I want to quote the words of Jason Kavanagh, our engineering editor, who summed up my feelings, "Its attendant ride quality is not simply sporty-firm. Sporty would be fine. But there's a difference between sporty and poorly resolved...the CLA250 has a clomping, stiff-legged ride that lacks composure." This means that the suspension would be fine for a canyon run but the rest of the time you would want something more relaxed.
If you are seriously considering this car, the test-drive will be crucial. Make sure your route includes some rough pavement, maybe some railroad tracks, and imagine feeling every bump in the road all day, every day and trying to tell yourself that's just the cost of good handling.
Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor, @ 18,853 miles