2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Long-Term Road Test: Introduction
November 15, 2013
Back in February, actor Willem Defoe starred as the devil in a commercial for the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250, enticing a young man to sell his soul for the chance to enjoy Benz's sleek new coupe-ish sedan and the bountiful success that supposedly comes with it. The "deal" is ultimately turned down when the CLA's affordable base price of $29,900 is revealed.
This wildly successful ad made Mercedes' new entry-level model one of the most hotly anticipated new cars of the year, and its appeal certainly transcends the thespian efforts of the guy who played the Green Goblin. The CLA's styling mimics that of the hugely desirable CLS-Class, the nearly-as-fashionable cabin is nicely equipped and its turbocharged four-cylinder is not only more powerful than Mercedes' previous entry-level sedan (the pricier C250) but it achieves an EPA-estimated 30 mpg combined. That impressively low base price helps, too.
With such hype and interest, adding a 2014 CLA250 to our long-term fleet for 12 months and 20,000 miles was an absolute no-brainer. And for the record, we purchased it with good old American dollars: no souls necessary.
What We Bought
As it turns out, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class doesn't really cost $29,900. That number doesn't factor in the $925 destination charge, so what you're really looking at is a base price of $30,825. That's not as eye-catching, but it still represents a very low price for a Mercedes-Benz sedan.
For that base price, you get the only powertrain combination available: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder good for 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission, and perhaps most notably for a Mercedes-Benz, front-wheel drive. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, eight-way power front seats with memory and lumbar adjustments, MBTex premium vinyl upholstery (you'd swear it was leather), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, mbrace2 emergency telematics/smartphone integration and Mercedes' driver inattention warning system.
That's actually a decent amount of stuff, and we probably could live with a so-equipped car. However, consumers rarely stick with the base car, so we decided to select a pair of optional packages CLA buyers seem likely to select.
The $2,300 Premium package nets you dual-zone climate control, driver side and interior auto-dimming mirrors, heated front seats, satellite radio, an iPod/MP3 player interface and a Harman Kardon sound system. The $2,370 Multimedia package supplants the standard COMAND system's 5.8-inch display with a 7-inch one and adds a rearview camera, a six-CD/DVD changer, 10GB of digital music storage, real-time traffic and weather, voice commands and a Mercedes navigation system (versus the Becker Map Pilot software that can be integrated into the standard interface as a stand-alone option).
With those two packages only and our no-cost Cirrus White paint selection, the Edmunds long-term CLA250 came to a grand total of $35,495. Some negotiation brought our price down to $35K even. We feel this is pretty indicative of the cars that'll be leaving dealer lots, and its sticker price undercuts the most basic C250 sedan by $1,230. Equally equipped, the price difference is $6,590.
Why We Bought It
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class has been one of the most frequently researched cars on Edmunds.com. It routinely draws more eyeballs than best-sellers like the Honda CR-V and Toyota Camry. Buying a CLA was largely an example of giving the people what they want.
However, there are many questions to answer about what is a rather significant departure for Mercedes-Benz. Will its engine deliver the promised fuel economy? Will its dual-clutch transmission be a smooth operator or a herky-jerky mess? What will a front-wheel-drive Mercedes perform like? Moving beyond the powertrain, will its cabin quality live up to our expectations for a Mercedes-Benz, and how much practicality does that sleek styling sacrifice? Finally, is the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 worth the hype?
We'll provide those answers and more in the next year as we drive it for 20,000 miles. Follow along on the long-term road test page for daily updates on our 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 and the rest of our fleet.