2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: Upgrade From a Hot Hatch?
August 21, 2014
The owner of the dry cleaner shop I frequent owns the VW GTI in the above photo. He was pretty interested in Edmunds' 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 after I had stopped to pick up some clothes. Specifically, his lease for the GTI ends in the fall. That got me wondering: If you own a "hot hatch" like a GTI, is the CLA250 a viable step up?
From a price standpoint, this is a logical jump. A typical hot hatch like a GTI, Mini Cooper S or Subaru WRX (sedan) start in the mid-20s and move up to around 30 grand with most of the options added. Our CLA, with a couple of choice options added, had an MSRP of $35,495.
As we've noted in previous updates, the CLA is fun to drive on the street thanks to its strong turbo 2.0-liter engine and sharp handling. It feels a lot like a hot hatch, actually. But from a performance standpoint, there's little to be gained by upgrading to the more expensive CLA. In Edmunds performance testing, our test car was slightly quicker (6.4 second 0-60 mph) than our old long-term GTI (7.0) and long-term Ford Focus ST (6.6), but the Focus had much higher handling limits, a lot of which would admittedly be attributable to its summer-rated tires. We've yet to test the new 2015 GTI, but I suspect its 0-60 time will be right around the mid-6s, with sharper handling than the old GTI as well.
Obviously, there's also the CLA45 AMG, which ups the performance potential considerably. But at $47,450 base MSRP I see that as an entirely different price category.
From an interior quality and prestige standpoint, though, the CLA250 is certainly a step up. I like the look of our CLA's interior, and the driving position is superb. Of course, there's the three-pointed star on the grille, too. In general, the CLA is just classier and rises above your typical economy-car-based hot hatch.
Is that worth paying thousands more? I asked my dry cleaner. He stroked his goatee a little. "Yeah, maybe," he said. He really did like the CLA's design. He also thought his wife would like the CLA more than his GTI. "But I want to wait to see how the new GTI stacks up," he concluded.
That would seem pretty wise to me.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 13,605 miles