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Mercedes Rings The Changes With New CLA

By raccars Published

From its entry-level hatchback, the A Class and its neat C Class saloon, Mercedes has created the CLA, a compact, coupe-esque saloon with front wheel drive slotting in neatly above the A and B Classes and on nodding acquaintance terms with the C Class.

Available from June, the CLA comes with a choice of three powerplants. The most basic is a 122bhp 1.6 litre called the CLA 180 and featuring a six-speed manual transmission, followed by the CLA 250 with 211bhp and a 2.0 litre unit under the bonnet, plus a smart dual clutch 7G-DCT gearbox. The trio is neatly rounded out by a 2.1 litre CDI diesel CLA 220 with 170bhp and the same 7G-DCT transmission. The chassis and suspension arrangement has two settings, comfort and sports and can apparently cope with all-wheel drive, which will hopefully be seen on a special AMG edition before long.

All CLA models come with Mercedes' intuitive Direct Steer programme, automatically adjusting steering response according to the requirements dictated by the ESP stability control, which is clever enough to keep you on the road, even through over-ambitious manoeuvres but without losing its sense of humour.

Aesthetically, the CLA resembles a cross between the A Class and the big CLS. Its sharp curves are distinctly modern but owe as much to function as to form – the CLA is the world's most aerodynamic production car with a drag co-efficient of 0.23. The cabin references the A Class once again, featuring electroplated 'cool touch' trim details and a very smart touchscreen infotainment system, with iPod synchronisation facility and will shortly be available to connect with Android.

While the CLA campaigns as Mercedes-Benz's middle range model, the build quality is distinctly high-end. Expect to pay around £25,000-£30,000, for which you will get the best in modern safety systems – think collision detecting radars in tandem with Brake Assist, Pre-Safe passenger protection functions including reversible seatbelt tensioners, automatic side window and sunroof closing, Attention Assist to monitor drivers' fatigue levels according to their driving style, Brake Hold and Hill Start Assist. Furthermore, there's an extensive options list.

Mercedes has invested heavily in fuel economy technology and buyers are reaping the benefits in the form of over 67mpg and CO2 emissions of 109g/km from the diesel CLA 220 CDI. Such a modern vehicle is designed to appeal to a younger audience, as Mercedes tries to shed its rather staid image and it's a task of which the CLA seems more than capable. Expect the stylish CLA to make waves this summer.

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