The finest-looking CLA turns up the sporty factor and appeal, but in Singapore it draws perilously close to the C-Class in terms of price
SINGAPORE – The small Mercedes war has heated up, and the verdict is now out: If you can afford it, get the CLA four-door coupe over the A-Class Saloon.
We preface this with our review of the Mercedes-Benz A 200 Progressive Saloon, concluding that the less adept ride of the A-Class sedan notably detracts from its ability to impersonate a classic Big Mercedes. That’s not the case with the CLA, and we’ve even found that to be equally true with the sportier AMG Line model tested here.
Want to see the difference between the two? Hit up our video below.
The AMG Line model is a $6,200 premium, and according to the Mercedes spec list adds ‘AMG Bodystyling, 18-inch 5-twin spoke wheels, longitudinal grain aluminium trim, sporty engine sound, AMG floor mats, flat-bottomed steering wheel, and AMG sport pedals.’
All that dress up certainly sets off the already slinky looks of the CLA even more, and make it look like a carbon copy of the CLA four-door coupe we enjoyed so much.
This is how the CLA, A-Class Sedan and A-Class hatch stack up in size terms
In drive terms, the AMG Line pack is mostly window dressing : unlike other Benzes, there seems to be no suspension difference between this and the Progressive model, both have the same ‘lowered comfort suspension’.
Our man Ben Chia reviewed the Progressive model last month and pronounced it good:
“… with handling manners that would impress even the toughest of critics. The car corners with great poise and composure, with the light and accurate steering matching well with a really capable chassis…and it strikes a great balance between cruiser and sports sedan.”
The CLA does a great job of encapsulating that Big Merc feel in a smaller body, but it does stumble when it comes to a thrilling soundtrack. Like the B 200, A 200 Sedan and A 200 Hatch, the 1.33-litre engine has enjoyable power and is very smooth, but sounds like a glorified vacuum cleaner much of the time.
The AMG Line model, with the sportier engine sound, livened things up a little bit at high revs but at lower, more day-to-day engine speeds it still sounds totally unremarkable.
Elsewhere the CLA is still the same: Enjoyably high-tech and high-quality interior, refined for what is essentially still a small model, and has more boot space and legroom than the A-Class sedan – although it loses out in headroom and door aperture size.
But in AMG Line vs Progressive terms, it’s difficult to recommend the additional S$6,200 outlay, because it drives the price to S$185k with COE, and close to the start of Big Merc territory: Just S$3k shy of a C 180 Avantgarde – read our review of the S$191k with COE C 180 Exclusive model here or C 200 Avantgarde here – or you could even stretch to S$198k and go for a real C-Class coupe the C 180 two-door.
The proliferation of Mercedes model choices is perhaps one reason why the brand is the foremost luxury carmaker here, but the lines between them can be rather confusing. In this case, the AMG Line is one not to cross.
Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 AMG Line
|Engine||1,322cc, inline 4, turbocharged|
|Power||163hp at 5500rpm|
|Torque||250Nm at 1620-4000rpm|
|Top Speed||8.2 seconds|
|VES Band / CO2||B / 125g/km|
|Agent||Cycle & Carriage|
|Price||S$185,088 with COE|