Mercedes-Benz: 2014 CLA 250 Sport 4Matic review

Mercedes-Benz: 2014 CLA 250 Sport 4Matic review

A few months ago we drove the CLA 45 AMG 4Matic (read review here) and were thoroughly impressed with its ability, but we felt the terrier-like nature of the car could become tiresome for some consumers.

Enter stage left the CLA 250 Sport 4Matic, which we found was an equally well equipped and entertaining drive, but a vehicle that’s much less frenetic than its AMG sibling, and one that we feel would be a more comfortable day to day proposition for people commuting into the office or doing the school run.

To use the curry comparison, where the CLA 45 AMG is a scorching Vindaloo that threatens to sear your intestines, the CLA 250 Sport is a milder, yet still flavoursome Madras that will find favour with more people.

Spec:

2014 CLA 250 Sport pano roof openKey features of the CLA 250 Sport include the 18-inch AMG 5-spoke alloy wheels, the sports seats in Red Cut leather, the intelligent light system, the panoramic electric sunroof, and the optional $2190 Comand package which had been fitted.

The Comand package includes a 17.8cm TFT colour display, HDD navigation, 10GB music register, single disc CD/DVD player with MP3/WMA capability, voice control operation, bluetooth and internet connectivity, DAB+ digital radio and 12 speaker Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system.

2014 CLA 250 Sport side onThe Sport can be differentiated from its CLA 200 siblings by the AMG body styling on the front and rear aprons and the side sill panels with red highlights, as well as the belt line trim in high-gloss black, and red brake callipers wearing the Mercedes-Benz logo.

Other differentiators are the black exterior mirrors, the diamond grille with silver pins, and the radiator grille louvre in high-gloss black with a silver inlay.

The car also proudly wears Sport badges on each flank, and has dark tinted privacy glass from the B-pillar to the rear.

AMG also engineered the lowered sports suspension of the CLA 250 Sport, as well as tuning the engine and accelerator response when Sport mode is selected, and providing the perforated front brake discs.

Inside:

2014 CLA 250 Sport interiorThe sport front seats in the CLA 250 may not grip you as firmly as the performance seats in the CLA 45 AMG, but they are certainly easier to get in and out of, and were more than comfortable over long distance drives. They are fully electric with a memory function and also have a heating function with three settings: warm, warmer, and full defrost!

I liked the aluminium trim with longitudinal grain across the dashboard, and the cylindrical air vents, complemented by the black leather upholstered upper dashboard and belt line.

Mercedes-Benz have stepped up their interior design markedly, but the only negative comment I can make is that I would have liked to see the TFT screen fold down or disappear into the dashboard when the car is parked, in a similar fashion to that employed by some Audi vehicles.

There is red contrast stitching on the seats, flat bottomed sports steering wheel, centre armrest and door armrests, matched with design Red seat belts, and even the floor mats are trimmed with red contrast stitching and are embroidered with the sport logo.

Some nice practical design touches included the passenger mirror dipping down when reverse gear was selected, and the puddle lamps and illuminated door sills were also appreciated on dark and damp evenings.

Power:

The CLA 250 Sport uses the same direct-injection turbocharged 2-litre four cylinder engine as the CLA 45 AMG but its power output is restricted to 155kW and torque is rated at 350Nm.

Mercedes-Benz uses a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission which its calls the 7G-DCT to harness that power and torque output through the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system

Fuel consumption is rated at 6.6l/100km in the combined cycle, while C02 emissions are rated at 154g/km.

Experience:

2014 CLA 250 Sport rear 3:4Firing up the four-cylinder engine brings a familiar burble to the exhaust, though its not as noisy, crackly and wasp-like as the CLA 45 AMG, but in Sport mode the 7G-DCT transmission will blip the throttle on downshifts, and the CLA 250 Sport could almost be mistaken for an AMG.

Drivers can choose from three driving modes being Economy, Sport and Manual. For most of our road test we left the car to its own devices, occasionally selecting Sport for a back road dash, or using the paddle shifters to engage a lower gear for engine 2014 CLA 250 Sport Dashboardbraking downhill.

The ride quality is still firm as you would expect from an AMG tuned suspension but it does absorb the worst that New Zealand roads can throw at, occupants won’t have their fillings rattled over corrugations, yet the driver is rewarded with crisp handling through a winding road.

The all-wheel-drive system provides sure-footed handling in dry and wet conditions, you need not worry about exploiting the engines power when accelerating hard out of intersection and into traffic when in thundering rain, as the 4Matic will keep the car glued to the road holding the intended line perfectly.

Due to that lovely coupe silhouette and the low seating position, it is hard to judge the extremities of the CLA 250 Sport when parking, but thankfully front and rear sensors are provided as standard equipment as is a reversing camera, which also gives you gridlines, so you can see exactly where the car will end up.

Verdict:

Including the Comand package our test vehicle had a retail value of $82,090 plus on road costs, which is significantly less than the $108,400 which Mercedes-Benz is retailing the CLA 45 AMG.

There will still be customers who desire the cachet and knife-edge performance of an AMG fettled Benz, but for those who don’t, but still want a responsive sporty car that they can enjoy day to day, then the CLA 250 Sport is the ideal package, its just a better all-rounder, and is more affordable.

 

Price: $82,090 (as tested)

Pros:

  • Vault-like build quality
  • Great to drive
  • Good boot space

Cons:

  • Tall people lack headroom in rear seats
  • Needs a minimum of RON 95 fuel

Words and pictures:

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