Mercedes-Benz CLA review - does the sporty saloon's drive match its looks? - Mercedes-Benz CLA design

Mercedes-Benz refreshes its compact saloon and estate - but can it compete with the class best?

Evo rating
Price
from £25,395
  • Looks, AMG performance, cool interior
  • Fussy automatic, cramped interior, not that memorable to drive

If being distinctive was your main objective when looking for a compact, premium saloon or estate, then the CLA could well appeal to you. The design itself is well detailed, but thanks to it's front-wheel drive platform can look odd from some angles. It is most obvious when viewed in profile, as the sloping rear and long front overhang put all the visual weight just behind the front wheels, rather than just in front of the rear wheels as per usual Mercedes-Benz'.

The same issue doesn't appear to be a problem on the larger CLS because like the E-Class on which it is based, the CLS had an inherantly cab-rearwards design and far longer bonnet to balance out the sloping tail. This problem can be accentuated in AMG-Line trim as it adds an extra layer of complexity to the design at the front and blockier, heavier bumpers and side skirts.

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However Mercedes-Benz' adept hand at detailing and surfacing means that when in the right colour and from the right angle, the CLA can look really special, far more-so than the comparatively staid Audi A3 Saloon. The Shooting Brake doesn't suffer from these awkward aesthetics quite so much, but does look best when following the same colour and trim rules as the saloon.

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