OK, the Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG is one of the best cars we’ve driven – period. Now the CLA lineup has been boosted by another all-wheel-drive model – the 250 Sport 4MATIC and it too is astonishingly good.
Mercedes says the CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC is ‘Engineered By AMG’. This means the company’s high-performance arm was intimately involved in development of the compact sedan from the get-go and the pay-back is massive.
But with a price tag of $64,900, the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC undercuts its racier, more powerful sibling by $22,000. The CLA 45 AMG is a sensation and the CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC is a sensational bargain.
Mercedes-Benz Australia was originally going to launch a front-drive model CLA 250 model, but the all-paw model came first. So customers who’ve ordered the front-drive CLA 250 Sport for $63,400 have been offered a CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC for the same price.
Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC Overview
It’s the glamorous CLA sedan with turbocharged 2.0—litre power, 4MATIC all-wheel-drive, AMG tweaked chassis, AMG style on the outside and an upscale, sporty interior. All things considered the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC is a sensational package.
Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC Engine
Mercedes-Benz equips the CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC with its four-cylinder turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine which delivers 155kW/350Nm. The same engine is available in the E-class and GLA model ranges.
Drive is to all four wheels via Mercedes’ excellent 7G-DCT seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission and 4MATIC system. With variable torque distribution available, the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC covers zero to 100km/h in 6.6-seconds.
But the 4MATIC system works as two-wheel-drive most of the time so the CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC returns impressive combined-cycle fuel consumption of 6.6l/100kms.
Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC The Interior
The CLA provides the entrée to the new-look of Mercedes-Benz interiors. There are some cues from the A-Class hatchback but when you look at the CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC’s sports seats with integrated headrests and red seatbelts you’ll get the idea.
Amongst those A-Class looks are the round air-vents and the 14.7cm TFT colour screen which adorns the centre of the dashboard.
The CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC also gains the usual ‘Benz flat-bottom, leather-wrapped sports steering wheel (manual adjustment for rake/reach) which combines with the electronic seat adjustment to deliver an optimal driving position. There’s also excellent alloy sports pedals with rubber studs for extra grip.
Control for the six-speaker Audio 20 system and Becker Map Pilot navigation is via a rotary dial on the centre console.
Rear seat accommodation, like rivals, isn’t massive but the seat split-folds 60:40 for varying loads and the CLA provides an enormous boot (which is unusual in this league).
Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC Exterior & Styling
We’ve been enchanted by the looks of the CLA since we first laid eyes on Mercedes’ compact sedan. Although talking premium compacts, it’s worth repeating the CLA is actually 39mm longer than the C-Class sedan.
But the combination of the curves, the frameless coupe-like doors and that slick rear-end is a combination which catches your eye every time you see a Mercedes-Benz CLA in the metal.
Over the entry level CLA 200 and CLA 200 CDI, the CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC scores some handy extra courtesy of those geniuses at AMG. The list includes 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, red-highlighted side skirts, and front and rear aprons.
As well, the all-paw CLA gains dark privacy glass from behind the B-pillars, bi-xenon headlights, LED rear lights, black exterior mirrors, panoramic glass sunroof and a black/silver diamond finish front grille.
Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC On The Road
This ‘Engineered By AMG’ stuff isn’t a frivolous advertising slogan. Underneath the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4Matic is a genuine AMG suspension system which includes an extra three degrees of negative camber, lower ride height and more.
The full-on CLA 45 AMG runs full-on sports suspension, the ‘Speedshift DCT 7’transmission, performance exhaust, performance brakes and heaps of other goodies appropriate for its $86,900 sticker (still remarkable value by the way). But, after a couple of days on the winding roads from Auckland to Tauranga and back, we can confirm the CLA 250 Sport too is a cracking drive.
No doubt it’s quick. Not as quick as the CLA 45 AMG of course, and not as noisy without the AMG’s crackling sports exhaust (although the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC gets its own sports exhaust system)..
Dial-up the ‘Sport’ setting and you get a noticeable shift in dynamics and rapid-fire shifting from the seven-speed auto – all accompanied by the high-tech grip and balance of Benz’ superbly-tuned 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. For us, all-wheel-drive is where it’s at for contemporary high-performance vehicles and predictably no-one does it better than Mercedes-Benz.
So the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC just sneered at the flooded roads encountered in New Zealand’s wild weather and pointed-in with alacrity every time. Mid-turn balance (in any setting really) was flat and at the very limit, all of those sophisticated driver aids countered the predictable understeer.
Back in the suburbs of Auckland, the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC ambled along with ease and refinement – perhaps a little easier to live with every day the CLA 45 AMG.
Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC Issues
AFL full-forwards and NRL front-rowers will be challenged for space in the rear seat.
Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC Verdict
If the European ‘gossip’ magazines and websites are correct, the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3 sedan are soon to be joined by all-new compact sedans from BMW and Jaguar. Clearly the premium compact sedan segment is on the radar.
We rated the Mercedes-Benz CLA as a CarShowroom.com.au Favourite and the arrival of the 250 Sport 4MATIC variant opens-up new possibilities for buyers in this league. The $22,000 price differential versus the astonishingly-good CLA 45 AMG 4MATIC brings the benefits of all-wheel-drive technology within easier reach.
But don’t for one second consider the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC as living in the shadow of its wild CLA 45 sibling. Far from it – the 250 Sport is a remarkably accomplished, high-performance German compact sedan, similarly engineered from the start by AMG, but more affordable and not as ‘in-your-face’ in the looks department.
All the Mercedes-Benz attributes, brilliant driving dynamics, compact size and a handy boot…no wonder savvy European buyers are flocking to the CLA.
Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC The Competition
Audi’s S3 sedan is priced at $62,200 and delivers the 206kW/389Nm turbocharged petrol engine and Quattro AWD chassis. Usual Audi accolades apply here (and as always check what’s standard and what’s optional).