2022 Mercedes-Benz CLA

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Updated: March 23, 2022

2022 Mercedes-Benz CLA

The Mercedes-Benz CLA is a sleek small four-door sedan that Mercedes dubs a coupe because of its roofline. Mercedes might as well call it a chameleon, as there are versions ranging from the less expensive CLA 250, to the menacing AMG CLA 45. For 2022 there are only small changes.

There is only one engine, 2.0-liter turbo-4, but it’s tuned for a refined 221 horsepower in the CLA 250, a potent 302 hp in the AMG CLA 35, or a fierce 382 hp in the AMG CLA 45. The CLA 250 has front-wheel drive with optional all-wheel drive, and the AMG versions are all-wheel drive. The CLA 250 comes with a sharp 7-speed automatic transmission, the AMGs an 8-speed twin-clutch automatic.

The CLA is best for two passengers, because the rear is tight. The cabin has imaginative lines, with quality materials consistent with the high price.

The CLA 250 is EPA rated at 25 mpg city, 35 highway, 29 combined with front-wheel drive, or 24/33/27 mpg with all-wheel drive, on premium fuel. Gas mileage is 22/29/25 mpg for the AMG CLA 35 and 20/29/23 mpg for the AMG CLA 45.

The CLA hasn’t been crash tested yet. Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and LED headlights. Options include adaptive cruise control and automatic lane changing.

Model Lineup

Made in Hungary, the CLA 250 starts at just under $40,000, while a loaded AMG CLA 45 can double that price.

The CLA 250 base price includes the usual power features, a touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and synthetic leather upholstery. With a few options such as twin 10.3-inch screens, it rises to about $45,000. All-wheel drive adds $2,000.

The CLA 35 AMG adds a bunch of equipment for about $49,000. Options such as adaptive dampers, real leather instead of synthetic, and more safety equipment, will raise the price closer to $55,000.

The Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 starts at about $57,000 and can climb beyond $80,000 if the tempting options make their way into the build.

The CLA carries a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty.

Exterior

There’s good reason to call this sedan a coupe, because it can so easily be mistaken for one. The sweeping arch of the greenhouse is beautiful, and the overall stance is low and athletic.

The AMG versions steal from the subtle lines with things like big wheels and eye-catching air intakes. The CLA 250 can be made to pose as an AMG, with Night and Aerodynamics packages.

Interior

The design of the cabin is imaginative, with digital displays on the instrument panel mounted on a low dash with big round climate vents and wood or metallic trim. Ambient lighting can come in no less than 64 colors.

The bucket seats have a lot of adjustment, but even in front passenger space is snug—even more so tucked inside the heavy bolsters of the AMG versions. The lovely roofline trims rear-seat head room, and the trunk is on the small size at 11.6 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

The CLA 250 is quick, with a 0-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds from its 221 horsepower and responsive 7-speed automatic transmission. It’s front-wheel drive with optional all-wheel drive.

The CLA 35 is turbo-boosted up to 302 horsepower, and comes standard with all-wheel drive. It drops the 0-60 time by a very noticeable 1.7 seconds, down to just 4.6 seconds. And the difference isn’t just from a standing start; it’s much quicker from any speed, and brings with it bigger brakes to help shave that speed down for tight corners.

This responsiveness enables drivers to better explore the balanced chassis. The handling is good in the CLA 250, but better in the AMG CLA 35 partly because of the all-wheel-drive system, which is more sophisticated than the optional AWD in the CLA 250. It moves more of the power to the rear wheels to give better grip in the corners.

Even on the CLA 250, cornering is sharp, with a nice weight to the steering. Available adaptive dampers make it ride like a larger and heavier car. It’s Mercedes-Benz taut, and comfortable even with the big wheels.

But the AMG CLA 45 is the racer, with 0-60-mph times of just 4.0 seconds, a quickness that’s hard to imagine from such a civilized car with only four cylinders–in fact, it feels even faster than that. It’s better with the optional adaptive dampers, because they do a better job of absorbing the bumps transmitted by the 19-inch wheels and low-profile tires. Its acceleration and grip also work very well with the optional bigger brakes.

Final Word

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz CLA looks like a coupe, but it’s the smallest sedan in the lineup. That comes with some compromise in rear-seat space—but not in performance. Quick in base form, it’s a true performance car in AMG trim.

 

—By Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection