2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: Performance Testing
December 31, 2013
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is one of the hottest cars on the road right now. Dealers can't keep them in stock, and we can't go 15 feet in LA without seeing one. They're everywhere.
It's also very, very interesting as the CLA250 is, insofar as Mercedes go, an oddity. Turbocharged four-cylinders are old-hat for automakers these days, what really makes the CLA special is that it's the first front-wheel-drive car Mercedes has sold in America.
As Riswick said when we first got it, the CLA250 is nimble, easy to drive quickly and the turbo-4 and dual-clutch transmission work well when pushed.
So, let's for a moment take a break from opinions (we've got a whole year for that) and look at the cold, hard numbers from our 208-horsepower, entry-level, front-drive Mercedes.
Driver: Chris Walton
Drive Type: Front engine, Front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: seven-speed automated manual
Engine Type: Transverse, turbocharged, direct-injected, inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,991 / 121
Redline (rpm): 6,250
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 208 @ 5,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 258 @ 1,250
Brake Type (front): Ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): Solid discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type(front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, monotube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, coil springs, monotube dampers, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 225/45R17 91H M+S
Tire Size (rear): 225/45R17 91H M+S
Tire Brand: Pirelli
Tire Model: Cinturato P7
Tire Type: All Season
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,277
0-30 (sec): 2.6 (w/TC on 2.6)
0-45 (sec): 4.3 (w/TC on 4.4)
0-60 (sec): 6.4 (w/TC on 6.5)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.1 (w/TC on 6.2)
0-75 (sec): 9.3 w/TC on 9.5)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.6 @ 95.3 (w/TC on 14.7 @ 94.4)
30-0 (ft): 30
60-0 (ft): 121
Slalom (mph): 65.6 (62.9 w/ESC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.84 (0.84 w/ESC on)
RPM @ 70: 1,800
Acceleration: I quickly learned that selecting Manual (from Eco, Sport, or Manual) provided the quickest shifts of the bunch. Also that the transmission would still auto-upshift in manual. The car protests and refuses to leave from a stop if both gas and brake are pressed for more than a fraction of a second. There's no 'launch' mode or advantage to this technique. The power isn't quite what I'd call 'linear' in the same way I might describe a V6 with as much power, but it doesn't feel like turbo-lag in the historical sense. I'm sure some people will like this, and it is rather noticeable. As the quarter-mile trap speeds remained admirably high throughout the tests, it shows ample engine cooling for the hard-working turbo-four.
Braking: First stop was dramatically shorter than those that followed, which is normal for some cars, but not what I'd expect from a Mercedes-Benz. Directionality was good, pedal remained firm and communicative, but effectiveness began to fade.
Slalom: This car initially feels sporty and quick to react in rapid transitions, but then at rather low threshold it begins to lose grip (rather dramatically) at the front, and the electronic stability system (ESC) reacts harshly and applies the brakes HARD, and the car goes straight despite the steering wheel being turned. There's a slightly higher performance threshold with traction control disabled, but the onset of the skid and resulting ESC intrusion keeps this from being a fun car to drive anywhere near its unpredictable limits.
Skidpad: Steering weight is appropriate, but it's not a communicative feel through the wheel, just springy weight.
Mike Magrath, Features Editor @ 1,227 miles