Why change something that was good in the first place. That’s the CLA facelift for you. It may not look radically different to the original, which is why we never featured one earlier when it rolled out. But Mercedes was insistent that we tried it and sent us one for a couple of days to see if we can spot the changes.
If you can’t immediately tell the new car from the old one, it’s because the changes are very subtle. The headlamps are new with different elements and a more modern looking DRL. It looks particularly good when unlocking the car in the dark, when the DRLs blink amber before turning into a menacing blue and then bright white. The front bumper has redesigned vents and a new chrome trim at its base. The tail lamps are also new, but you would be hard pressed to spot these differences. The rest of the car continues to be swanky and youthful which is good for a car that is now four years old. This is the car for those who put style above everything else. The frameless doors, the swept back form, the drooping rear – all point to one handsome car. The size makes it easy to drive around town.
Inside, the same story continues and only those familiar with the original can tell the changes. The new CLA has a larger 8 inch screen in place of the original 7 incher. The COMAND module infotainment system has been improved with the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is also the integration of new Drive Select which lets you choose your favourite driving mode by altering throttle and steering response.
The interiors feel solid and well put together and overall cabin quality continues to impress. With its small glass area, high shoulder line and shape fitting seats, you’d find the interiors a bit claustrophobic, but that’s the price you pay for style. The front seats hug you so well, you never want to get out of them. The rear isn’t particularly for big adults or long distances. The boot is large at 470 litres, but there is a space-saver taking up most of the space (See what I did there?).
At this price point and with the coupe styling it has, you’d wish the 2.2litre diesel made more than 136bhp and 300Nm. It does however make for a very tractable engine in the city. The 7 speed automatic is seamless when shifting up and puts you in the meat of the powerband every time you prod on the accelerator. It even downshifts adequately fast, but the mediocre power output will have you thinking twice about overtaking a fast moving Cruze or Jetta – cars that cost half its price. If performance is what you are after, get the petrol CLA or the nutter spec CLA 45 AMG.
The CLA rides beautifully on our roads despite the suspension being non-adjustable. There is a certain amount of firmness at low speeds, but it doesn’t feel jarring at any point. The handling is also very well tuned to our roads. There is good amount of grip from the chassis, but turn-in isn’t as eager as we like it. The steering feels nice to hold and the brakes are fantastic.
Overall the updated CLA is just as good as we remember it. The facelift is only to bring it in line with the rest of the Mercedes range and not a major one, yet the improvements are appreciable. For style, brand and feel good factor, there aren’t many cars that can beat it.