MERCEDES-BENZ CLA 220D is a sleek entry Benz big on Merc traditions

Some may argue that there’s no room for Mercedes-Benz’ CLA 4-door coupe alongside its quite similar new A-Class Sedan sibling. But this second generation is far sleeker, a little bigger and even more stylish,. It allows it to stand alone and leave the sedan to handle the regular rivals in this neck of the woods.

One thing is for sure though – this stylish baby Mercedes packs incredible luxury punch. It straddles modern technology with old-school appeal in a most inviting cabin. And it’s all about the cockpit in this car. It’s dominated by a huge, resoundingly clear twin 10.25-inch screen digital display. Backed by the MBUX ‘Hey Mercedes’ personal assistant. Add turbine vents add a significant wedge of cool and the mood lighting sets the evening ambience too.

MBUX is a treat. Simply say “Hey Mercedes” and it’s at your beck and call . It’s a digital concierge that helps you control just about everything in the car without ever taking your hands off the wheel. From adjusting cabin climate to opening the sunroof, it is as useful as it is intuitive. Once you’re into it.

The biggest drawback is that not much of that kit as standard. But then the list of cost-option features is like a bottomless cup of coffee. So you can spec this thing to your exact requirements. Another CLA advantage is that its boot is considerably bigger than the A Class hatchback. But then it does lose out both the hatch and the sedan on rear headroom.

One of CLA 220d’s major selling points is its more than healthy engine. It delivers a staunch 140kW and 400Nm with excellent midrange. It’s well suited to its 8-speed autobox, quiet and more than willing, the two-litre turbodiesel. Although it does get lazy and a bit rowdy as ithe rev counter closes in on the redline.

Uts quick enough, mind you. 6.9 seconds to 100 is approaching GTI country. It’s exceptionally frugal too. That combined 4./4 l/100km is quite reflective. That also keeps me awake at night wondering why the hell diesel is such a no-no these days?

Handling isn’t quite what Bottas may expect, but the steering is well-weighted, the front-end is sharp and body control reassuring. Braking is solid, too. Ride quality is compliant, if a touch harsh on rougher surfaces and Sport mode is best left alone unless you really want to send it.

The Mercedes-Benz CLA 220d AMG Line is however far more about style, tradition and elegance. it has an out of character luxury cabin and supreme connected-tech experience for a car of this size. Never mind that you can now have that badge and all it stands for at a surprising entry point. That’s something that a good many buyers will find most attractive.

And not least of all, CLA 220d is more than a fair compromise to trade down to in these most trying of times… – Michele Lupini

Images – Marcella Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Mercedes-Benz CLA220d AMG Line
Engine: 140kW 400Nm 2-litre turbodiesel I4
Drive: 8-speed Automatic FWD
0-60km/h:         3.35 sec
0-100km/h:        6.96 sec
0-160km/h:        17.19 sec
400m:             15.0 sec @ 150km/h
80-120km/h:       4.76 sec
120-160km/h:      7.53 sec
VMax:             244km/h
Fuel:             4.4 l/100km
CO2:              117 g/km
Warranty/Service: 5y 100K/2y unl. km
LIST PRICE:       R719K
RATED:            8
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