We're sure Mercedes-Benz's 2014 introduction of its CLA-Class compact sedan raised a few eyebrows, as small cars to that point were not traditionally the domain of luxury manufacturers in North America. But if you want evidence this car has helped Benz find a new market for its product, look no further than this year's decision to bring the even-smaller A-Class to Canada.
That's a story for another buyer's guide entry; the CLA-Class we're discussing here moves into 2019 with minor changes. Available models are the CLA 250 and the AMG CLA 45.
All CLA 250 variants are now standard with the formerly optional Avantgarde package, which bundles blind spot monitoring, LED headlights, automatic climate control, an 8.0-inch infotainment display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, auto-dimming rearview and driver's side mirrors, power-folding side mirrors, passive keyless entry with hands-free trunk, 18-inch wheels and a panoramic sunroof.
Also new is a standard Mercedes Me Connect system, which includes travel assist services and allows the driver to communicate with the car via smartphone app.
The CLA's fundamentals remain the same: CLA 250 variants use a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and the AMG CLA 45 gets a much-massaged version of that motor capable of a formidable 375 hp and 350 lb-ft. CLA 250 is optional with AWD, which is standard in the CLA 45. All cars use a seven-speed automatic transmission.
While the CLA looks the part of a Mercedes, it is indeed a compact car: there's decent room for two up front, but the back seat is tight and not recommended for adults on long drives.
If the CLA's size suits you, that list of new standard kit ups this car's value significantly, as the 2019 model's starting price is just $500 more than last year's.
Mercedes-Benz helped set the tone for this class of vehicle, along with the BMW 1 Series (which became the 2 Series); those two have since been joined by the Audi A3 sedan, which has helped bolster the class with its own healthy dose of style and performance.
Other standard features in the CLA 250 include LED daytime running lights and taillights, electric parking brake, heated side mirrors, leather-trimmed steering wheel, artico artificial leather upholstery, heated front seats with 12-way driver's seat, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers and the Mercedes Attention Assist system.
AMG CLA 45 features include performance-tuned brakes, steering and suspension, all kinds of AMG exterior styling cues, Nappa leather steering wheel and combination artico and dinamica upholstery.
CLA 250 options include a sport package that bundles AMG styling with upgraded brakes, while the AMG CLA 45 can be had with a driver's package that includes an adjustable suspension and 19-inch wheels, or a track package that brings a limited slip front differential, performance steering wheel and full leather cockpit.
As of this writing, Mercedes hadn't published fuel consumption estimates for the 2019 CLA-Class, but those figures should be similar, if not identical, to the 2018 model's ratings. Those are 9.6/6.6 L/100 km (city/highway) for the front-drive CLA 250 and 9.9/7.3 with AWD, and 10.3/7.9 for the AMG CLA 45.
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