Pros: High-class, high-quality trimmings; exhilarating performance of CLA45 AMG model; full range of available safety and technology features; relatively affordable for a Mercedes-Benz
Cons: Cramped rear seat lacks sufficient headroom and legroom for most adults; engine sounds refined for a 4-cylinder but may not satisfy traditional luxury buyers; available navigation-system screen looks like an afterthought
CG Says: Mercedes-Benz adds a new entry-level compact vehicle to its lineup for 2014. The CLA-Class is the brand’s first front-wheel-drive sedan, and it comes exclusively with turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engines: The CLA250 has a 208-horsepower version and the CLA45 AMG has a hotter twin-scroll-turbo version with 355 hp. With either engine, a 7-speed automated manual is the lone transmission. The CLA250 is available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, while the CLA45 AMG comes exclusively with the latter. CLA adopts its rakish roofline from Mercedes’ larger CLS sedan; the swoopy styling looks great, but compromises interior room. The CLA-Class delivers traditional Mercedes-Benz build quality and high-end materials in a smaller package. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class’s asking prices will buy more spacious accommodations in competitive cars, but then you wouldn’t have a Mercedes-Benz.