A big thank you to all the team at Mercedes-Benz Wellington located in at 75 Cambridge Terrace, for allowing us the use of the brand new Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 for this Road Tested Review.


First Impressions

The CLA is anything but another typical Mercedes sedan or coupe, they call it a coupe, but I would call it a sedan. Either way it’s somewhat more eye catching than some of their bigger and more expensive models. After the success of their redesigned A Class and A45 AMG, the new CLA shows that Mercedes are still thinking outside the box and willing to take risks. The new compact sedan market has given them a great blank canvas to run with.


The Test Drive

The CLA is not a big car, but it’s not a small hatchback either, with frameless doors and low sloping roof it gives the driver a surprising feeling of being in a sporty coupe. Inside, the new CLA feels like an expensive car, mixing soft leather, aluminium inlays and retro, aviation designed air vents. Like any of Merc’s line it has a very nice interior, comfy and a nice place to be. It’s packed with toys: Bluetooth, satnav from the optional Command Package at $2,190, Distronic system – Mercedes’ range sensitive adaptive cruise control, BAS Plus Brake and emergency braking assist system which can shorten the stopping distance, braking 1.6 seconds before a calculated collision moment. All part of the Driving Assistance package at $2,590. It has the same look, feel and in some cases better tech than its bigger more expensive models, the majority of which are starting to look a bit old beside the new CLA line. The panoramic sunroof ($1,730) is a must-have, featuring a slight tilt, or popping out and sliding back to leave an opening so massive you would almost think it’s a convertible. The only thing that lets it down is the same thing we said about the A250 Sport: the Command unit display looks like a third party addon you would buy like a plug in gps unit, and does not fit with the rest of the well designed interior.


Driving the CLA is much like driving a coupe, but in a more upright seating position. The steering is very light and easy to use around town but not so light as to leave you without any feel for motorway driving. The 115kW 1.6l turbo seemed to be right on the line between having enough power to move the car as desired, and being slightly too small an engine. As the badge would suggest the CLA 200 would have felt a little more at home with a 2.0L engine, but I guess it all comes down to how you drive. The AMG 45 model will be something else altogether, both eye catching and mind-blowing. All the controls were very easy to use and reach, all but one. The SUV-style push button handbrake was somewhat annoying, partly due to my own height, and partly due to its position. Right in behind my right knee, which made me have to squirm a bit to engage it. Since it was a digital button this could have easily been moved somewhere more ergonomic.


The rear doors are not meant for taller folk, the sloping roof reduces the doors’ opening quite a bit and this is usually the part you would use to get your head in. Even if you did get your head in there wouldn’t be much room for it. The rear seats are a no-no for anyone over six feet tall if your goal is be comfortable. The boot is a decent size at 470l, with handy cargo net pockets on either side.


What it’s up against.

It’s early days for the compact sedan / 4 door compact coupe market, so finding a like for like has proven to be somewhat difficult. Both Audi’s A3 sedan and BMW 3 Series Gran Coupe are due sometime next year. With all the manufacturers filling in these niche market gaps they are drastically reducing the margins between the different sizes, which is great for your options but can be quite frustrating for you to compare what is ideal for you.


Brand / Model



Fuel L/100km

Luggage Capacity

Price Highest to Lowest

Lexus IS 250

2.5L 4GR – FSE V6

153 kw / 252 Nm

9.2L / 100km

480 Litres


BMW 320i

2.0L Turbo I4

135 kw / 270 Nm

6.0L / 100km

485 Litres


Audi A4

1.8 TFSI

125 kw / 320 Nm

8.3L / 100km

490 Litres


Mercedes-Benz CLA 200

1.6L Turbo I4

115 kw / 250 Nm

5.7L / 100km

470 Litres


Volvo S60 T4

2.5L Turbo I4

186 kw / 360 Nm

6.5L / 100km

339 Litres


Citroen C5

1.6L I4 Turbo

115 kw / 240 Nm

7.7L / 100

505 Litres


VW Passat TSI

1.8L Turbo I4

118 kw / 250 Nm

7.1 / 100km

565 Litres





  • Eye catching sleek styling

  • Smooth power delivery, seamless gear changes

  • Great all round visibility

  • Panoramic sunroof gives a great feeling of space inside.

  • Very comfy seating, would be great for long trips

  • Command System straightforward and easy to use.

  • Good sized boot for the car’s size

  • Very wide angle rear camera

  • Feels like a much more expensive car than it is.

  • A lot of money for a small car

  • Options are standard Euro rates

  • Taller people will find the back snug, due to sloping roof and short leg room

  • Command System feels like a third party add on, not integrated with the overall styling.

  • Tall people will find the handbrake button kinda annoying as its behind the left knee and not very ergonomic. As its a digital button it could easily have been placed somewhere more ideal


What do we think ?

It’s a nice little car, but that’s what it is, a little car. For those of us over 6ft I suggest you keep looking and move on, but for anyone under, this might be the car for you. Nice to drive, European luxury at a reduced price, subtle sporty hints and no end to style.


Rating – Chevron rating 3.5 out of 5

Mercedes-Benz CLA 200

Vehicle Type

Front Engine, FWD, 5 Door Compact Sedan / Coupe

Starting Price

$ 65,900 NZD

Tested Price

$ 78,440 NZD


1.6L Direct-injection, turbocharged I4, 115kW, 250 Nm


7G-DCT 7-speed automatic

0 – 100 kph

6.2 seconds

Kerb Weight

1667 kg

Length x Width x Height

4885 x 1850 x 1465 mm

Cargo Capacity

470 Litres

Fuel Tank

50 litres


Urban 7.1 L/100km

Motorway 4.6 L/100km

Combined 5.5 L/100km, 217 g/km CO2

ANCAP Safety Ratings

5 Stars out of 5


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John Galvin (JSG)
It started at a young age with bedroom posters, the Countach of course. This slowly grew into a super car die-cast model collection, fifty five 1:18 models at the last count. At which point it had almost taken full control, the incurable Mad Car Disease ran deep though my veins all the way to the bone. And things for my loved ones just got worse as the cars where now being bought at 1:1 scale, after a BMW, HSV, and couple of Audi's, the disease reached my brain, pushing me over the edge and down the rabbits hole into the world of the bedroom poster.


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