2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: Needs Transmission and Ride Quality Improvements
June 17, 2014
Our long-term 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is the automaker's attempt at entering a new segment in North America.
It's my contention that they have more work to do.
While the CLA250's chassis has respectably quick reflexes when you get frisky with the helm, its attendant ride quality is not simply sporty-firm. Sporty would be fine. But there's a difference between sporty and poorly resolved. Rather than "firm yet compliant," the CLA250 has a clomping, stiff-legged ride that lacks composure. It doesn't have a lot of suspension travel, and it doesn't make good use of the travel it has, becoming crashy on broken pavement. Crummy as the car rides here in southern California, I can only imagine what a mess this chassis must be on truly craptastic roads like those of, say, southeast Michigan.
Its seven-speed DCT transmission, too, could use more refinement. It is inconsistent in its reactions, sometimes choosing the right gear at the right time; many times it gets tripped up, a half-step behind the driving conditions. On paper, a DCT might sound like an upgrade over a traditional automatic, but I'd take BMW's outstanding autobox over this one (and many others) any day of the week.
The CLA is not beyond saving. But it does need work.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor