Mercedes CLA 220 CDI Sport
What is it
The Mercedes CLA is one of the hottest company car choices to be launched this year. It borrows its dramatic ‘four-door coupe’ styling from the bigger CLS, a connection Mercedes is keen to emphasise, and it’s about the same size as the more conservatively designed C-Class saloon.
One of the hottest company car choices to be launched this year
Under the skin, though, it’s a sister model to the latest, much improved versions of Mercedes’ A and B-Class models, and the third of five cars that will eventually be spun off the company’s new front-wheel drive platform.
The CLA is built at a new factory in Hungary, which is also responsible for some B-Class production.
Mercedes is taking orders for the CLA from 18 March and the first UK cars will be delivered in June.
- Looks. Few cars will turn as many heads in the company car park as this one – at any price. The CLA’s design manages to capture most of the drama of the larger and much more expensive CLS but costs from just £24,355
- Two trim levels – Sport and AMG Sport, with generous specs even on the entry-level Sport
- Equipment on Sport models includes Comfort suspension, eighteen-inch wheels, a 5.8-inch dash-mounted colour display, a USB port, Bluetooth, sports seats partly trimmed in Artico artificial leather, cruise control, active park assist and dual-zone air-con
- AMG Sport models also get Sport suspension, AMG wheels and body kit, Bi-xenon headlamps, privacy glass and enhanced trim
- Launch engine options are a 1.6-litre petrol (122PS, 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds, 130mph, 50.4mpg and 130g/km) with a six-speed manual gearbox, and the engine tested here, the 2.1-litre 220 CDI offered with a self-shifting dual-clutch transmission
- The 220 CDI engine is smooth and strong, and isn’t too rough and noisy as it goes about its work – 62mph comes up from rest in 8.2 seconds and the 220 CDI tops out at 143mph, thanks to a power output of 170PS. Combined fuel consumption is 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions are 117g/km
- Later in the year, Mercedes will add a CLA 200 CDI, a petrol engine CLA 250 and a true AMG model, the powerful CLA 45 AMG
- A drag coefficient of as little as 0.22, the lowest of any mainstream production model
- The CLA’s attractively swoopy low rear roofline comes at a price; you’ll need to duck a bit when entering the rear seat and there’s not a huge amount of space when you settle yourself in; boot capacity, though, is a very generous 470 litres.
- As in the case of the latest A-Class, Mercedes is relentlessly emphasising the CLA’s ‘sporty’ character in areas such as interior trim and model naming policy. The CLA’s abilities are broader than this focus suggests, and some buyers who would otherwise like it may be put off by the lack of more traditional trim choices.
Business Car Manager road test verdict
It’s hard to argue with the proposition offered by the Mercedes CLA.
When buyers fancied a half-price CLS in the past, their only option was the Passat-based Volkswagen CC. The CC is an appealing machine too, but now Mercedes is offering its own baby CLS at a similar price – and this one has the company’s still-prestigious three-pointed star on its nose.
The CLA is sharper drive than most other Mercedes models – it feels like a grown up A-Class, with flat cornering and direct steering – but still offers the sort of comfort and solidity you’d expect from a Merc as well.
One question mark concerns the CLA’s two suspensions settings; confusingly, the Sport model has the Comfort suspension setting as standard, while the AMG Sport has the firmer Sport setting. The smooth continental roads on which we tested the CLA didn’t draw out the differences between the two to the same extent as Britain’s rougher surfaces probably will. On past experience they’re likely to favour the Comfort option but ‘try before you buy’ should probably be the motto for UK business motorists who spend a lot of time at the wheel.
But that’s a minor detail in the overall scheme of things; the CLA has style, and lots of it, and that’s going to be the main source of its appeal for company car drivers. Add company car tax at £83 a month for a 20% tax payer and the prospects look even better.
The Low Down…
|Doors and body style||4-door coupe|
|Engine/gearbox||2-litre 4 cyl turbodiesel/7 speed dual clutch auto|
…and what it costs
|Monthly business rental (ex VAT)||N/A|
|Road tax (VED)||Band C|
|Company Car Tax Bands 2012/13 to 2014/15||16%, 17%, 18%|
|Benefit in kind 2012/13 to 2014/15||£4980, £4990, £5280|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%)||£687/£57|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%)||£1374/£114|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (20%)||£996/£83|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (40%)||£1992/£166|
|Figures correct at time of posting|
|For latest figures||Use our company car tax calculator|