Style & substance

The new CLA200 CDI gets the 2.14L diesel heart from the A, B and GLA classes

This is our third review of the CLA. The AMG version is probably the most accessible performance car we’ve ever driven and the petrol version is just impossibly smooth. And now we’ve spent some quality time with the most sensible option — the diesel. We’ll give you a moment while you stare at the picture above. No no. Go on. We’ll wait.
The car actually has the capacity to make people stop and stare. In red, it’s one of the best looking cars on sale today. No arguments, please.

The inside, though beige, it a beautiful place to be. There is much leather and brushed aluminium and superb plastics. To be beige and stylish at the same time in a car which is low and racy must not have been easy. Still, trust Mercedes to pull it off. Unlike some other manufacturers who make you pay for the key with which you start your car, Mercedes has filled the CLA up everything they could. Here’s a small list of the kit on offer — body-hugging electric sports seats, Harman Kardon stereo, proper panoramic sunroof, satnav, dual zone climate control and a million other bits and bobs.

If your daily drive is an SUV, or another luxury saloon, then be prepared to get used to a really low seat. And this does play tricks on your mind initially because you sit there thinking, ‘hmmm, this is a low car. And if I’m sitting this low it must mean that every speed bump from here to my office is going to help itself to bits of the sump. But don’t worry, that paranoia soon dissipates after you’ve gone over a few man-made mountains that masquerade as speed-breakers and the only things that make contact with the road are the tyres. Mercedes was adamant about the ground clearance. They ensured that it’ll be good enough for India without messing with the CLA’s low profile.

The laziness of the power delivery and the gearbox may trick you into thinking that this is a slow car. And… it sort of is in some ways. 0-100kph in 10 seconds isn’t quick by today’s standards. But in the city, the laziness makes life so much easier. It doesn’t dart forwards every time you go near the throttle. It’s a lot more relaxed than that; progressive as well.

On the highway, the CLA is a different animal. If I were ever to rob a bank, this would be my only choice for a getaway car. Why? Because the CLA can do 1,200km on a tank of diesel on the highway. At 200kph. This is down to the a nice, lazy 2.14L diesel that’s been tuned for economy, a nice lazy gearbox with widely spaced ratios and, most importantly, the CLA has the lowest Coefficient of Drag of any saloon car in the world. What that last bit means is that it has very little resistance to the air.

And it handles like an A Class. Which means it handles as good as a front-wheel drive car can. At high speeds you can feel a direct connection between the wheel in your hands and the two it turns. In terms of being one with the car, the CLA encroaches deep into BMW territory. You don’t need to be Hamilton to push this thing either because it has an inherent sense of safety, of being planted and obedient to your inputs.

As you can probably work out, we really REALLY love the CLA. Even more than A Class. It pushes all our buttons; mental, beautiful and sensible. Apparently over a lakh people across the world agree with us because that’s the number of cars they sold in 18 months from its launch. We don’t generally do buying advice on Honk, but this is different. The CLA200 CDI in red costs Rs 33.5 lakh in Mumbai (Ex-showroom including Octroi). Buy one. Now.

( Source : dc )
Next Story