The petrol cars might be more appealing to drive, but the diesels make a lot more sense if you’re driven by budget. The CLA 200d in standard manual guise emits 109g/km, that dropping to 105g/km if you option the automatic transmission. There’s no penalty for the additional performance for the CLA 220d either, its 106g/km putting it in the same tax band as its less powerful relation.
All the diesels dodge road tax too - for the first year at least. Official combined economy figures for those autos are 70.6mpg and the manual CLA 200d returns 67.3mpg. The CLA 220d manages 68.9mpg in two-wheel drive form (it's auto-only) but choosing 4Matic hammers the economy, pushing it to 58.9mpg, with CO2 output rising to 123g/km, some four tax bands above the same engine with front-wheel drive.
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The petrol versions cannot compete with the diesels on pure economy grounds. The cleanest CLA 180 manages 124g/km and 53.3mpg when optioned with the automatic transmission, or 128g/km and 51.4mpg in manual specification. The CLA 250 4Matic returns 42.2mpg on the combined cycle, with emissions ranging from 152- to 158g/km depending on alloy wheel size - the change from 18-to 19-inch alloys adding to your tax liability.
It's probably worth noting that diesels may well become significantly more expensive to run in future as governments clamp down on the pollution they produce - and some plan to ban diesel vehicles entirely in cities. Worth remembering if you're living somewhere like London. Likewise, recent VED changes mean that while some first-year rates are still low for low-CO2 cars, the annual rate is £140 for most conventional cars - or £450 a year if your car has a list price of more than £40,000. Currently, the surcharge will only affect AMG models.
Residual values should be strong so leasing rates are low, while there's fixed-price servicing via a monthly payment. Mercedes-Benz’s determination to gain sales in the smaller car sector means it’s offering extremely attractive financing and ownership deals, too, making the CLA relatively inexpensive to buy and own, despite its relatively high pricing.