2014 Car of the Year Finalist No. 5 – Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

A New Market Emerges for Luxury Car Buyers

17 2014 Car of the Year Finalist No. 5 – Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

It is the final day of Car of the Year Award finalist nominees. Yesterday we presented the 2014 Mazda3 as our fourth finalist and today we we’re revealing the final car to make the cut: Mercedes’ new CLA-Class.

Mercedes-Benz has moved down-market in an attempt to attract more vehicle sales. Based on the current A-Class and B-Class platform sold elsewhere in the world, the CLA is styled to look like a baby CLS-Class in that it is a swoopy four door vehicle with an emphasis on style and luxury. But what sets this car apart from other Mercedes-Benz models is the fact the CLA is front-wheel drive based.

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For now, we get a choice of two CLAs packing 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines with very different output. The CLA 250 makes a healthy 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque while the frantic CLA 45 AMG pumps out an insane 355 hp. All of this power is sent through a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission that we find to be a bit slow and unrefined.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine on the other hand is quick to spool and delivers power instantly. The engine stays in its power band for a long time and like the turbocharged four-cylinder from Audi, this four-pot feels more robust than the numbers would have us believe. Mercedes claims the 250 model is good for an impressive 26 mpg in the city and 38 mpg while also capable of motivating the 3,262-lb car from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.9 seconds.

The CLA is surprisingly composed in corners and if not pushed beyond the front tires limits, is difficult to distinguish from an all-wheel drive car on dry surfaces. But the CLA 250 is not meant to be especially sporty; the 225/45R17 tires are meant to offer a compromise between comfort, sport and efficiency.2014 CLA45 AMG

SEE ALSO: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe Review

The four-door coupe is actually 1.5 inches longer than the heavier, rear-wheel drive based C-Class sedan and features a more rakish design. Although this does lead to a gorgeous, sleek profile, it comes at the expense of passenger space. Rear seat space is small and entry and exit can be challenging.

Up front it’s a different story. The CLA is instantly recognizable from behind the steering wheel as a “Mercedes-Benz,” but what’s more, it also feels like a proper luxury car. No pretender trying to resemble a Mercedes here; this is the real deal with the sort of premium trim you would expect in any Mercedes product. Available in six cabin colors with four accent materials, the CLA’s interior is highlighted by a large infotainment screen perched on the dashboard. If opting for the sport package, the classic round steering wheel is replaced by a more aggressive flat-bottom unit.

Getting a car for $30,000 with a tri-pointed star on the hood will be enough for many potential customers. That and the fact that this car lives up to the Mercedes-Benz name earned it a spot on our Car of the Year Award short list.

GALLERY: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250


Discuss this story at our Mercedes-Benz CLA forum.

  • Mark G

    the cla is a garbage and it isnt cheap, well it feels cheap…. i recently went and looked at one and was very put off by it. I can buy a much better car for the same price at lexus or infiniti ( the g37 price has been reduced ) .

  • Rod Hoffman

    Tesla Model S is the best!

  • Darius

    Lexus? Are you joking? My wife had Lexus RX330, it was a fine car, then we wanted to get a new model in 2012. We looked at both the new RX and GS models. Lexus inside finish downgraded to a point we could not consider it anymore, it felt like a Toyota. Instead we got a proper luxury car, Mercedes E350. There is absolutely no way you can compare the two brands. As far as Infinity, I do not care for its looks and inside design, but thats a personal preference.

  • Mark G

    apparently you have not been inside of the cla, its not the same quality as the other Mercedes it has lots of hard plastic everywhere it feels super cheap, and it drives cheap, the worst trans ever. but people will buy it just based on the brand because if you cross shop it you wont buy it .


    I just bought a CLA a little less than a month ago and LOVE it! It’s not my first Benz either, before that I had a 2007 E350, beautiful and elegant car! I agree with Darius, there is no way you can compare Lexus with Mercedes, they don’t even come close to MB. He has an E350 so he definitely knows how great these automobile’s are. Mercedes is all I’ve ever driven and all I will ever drive. Seriously one of the BEST auto manufacture’s around. So much better than BMW too, my dad had a BMW M6 2009 and traded it in last year for an SLS Amg. He loves it and I have him hooked on MB. Without a doubt the CLA deserves to be on this list, smartest move Mercedes has ever made! My black CLA45 Amg is so fast and the trans is great! It shifts very sporty but is very efficient in MPG compared to other AMG’s and M series BMW’s and S-Line Audi’s. Hell, better than Lexus F-series for that matter. Why get a over-priced Toyota when you can get a Benz. Congrats Mercedes on the CLA making the list!!

  • edgar

    Take off the star and you could be looking at a Kia or Hyundai..ugly styling!
    Mercedes used to be elegant but no more..shame

  • nattymbs320

    That’s your personal opinion that i think is shared by very few…is new s-class is over the top…every magazines vote it the best car in the world….the e-class is class leading…the only class they seem to be lagging is the c-class and now they are stepping up big time…from pictures posted of the new c-class it has already voted best interior in that class..

  • nattymbs320

    different class vehicle…Tesla S is a 100k vehicle ,the CLA is a 30k vehicle ,cant compare the two..

  • nattymbs320

    Apparently you seem to like Asian cars,nothing wrong with that ,but Lexus or Infiniti has nothing that can topped the Germans….just look at sales figures at all the categories and you will see for yourself….

  • nattymbs320

    It is the cheapest Mercedes plus you can spend thousands more for upgrade to get fine leather with all the goodies…it can be configured up to $48k…it all depends on how much you want to spend .

  • Mark G

    no i like the best cars ….. no one car company has the best lineup of cars, the cla is an asian car as well assembled by nissan in mexico , but last time i checked lexus was selling just as many cars as bmw and benz, so we cant use sales as an argument. I myself like Audi they has a better ride and an interior thats not nearly as spartan as he other german brands( bmw has by far the worst interiors). so its not that i dont like german cars i just think each class of car may have a different manufacture that did the class better….btw infinifi cars typically out perform bmw cars in the same class .

  • Mark G

    yea the c class is a better buy than the cla

  • edgar

    Yes it is my personal opinion. I believe the current generation Mercedes have gone down the same ugly path as BMW. I
    drive Porsches and admire their purity of style with no ugly tortured sheet metal . Time will be the ultimate judge. And as for your comment that my view is shared by very few ; clearly that is your opinion with no statistics to support it.

  • nattymbs320

    OK since you have stated that it is your …personal opinion…it surely doesn’t matter,just read and hear from people who actually owned these vehicles and then you might change your personal opinion about them…

  • Benz lover

    Very nice car! I have always been a huge fan of Mercedes. One of these days I will have one in my garage.

  • lumad

    seems like the people who dislike mercedes or mbws are the ones who never had ones. Well, enjoy your 40K modified Kia or Civic people while i’m enjoying my 30K CLA and its A MERCEDES!!!

  • Andrew Toh

    Agreed. This car is fugly. Don’t need to own the car to have an opinion on styling. I just drove behind a red one, horrendous. Merc seems to be going down the “love it or hate it” path.