Mercedes’ compact range is expanding with a new model: Class A Sedan. The notchback version of the small A-Class. But there are now two to play this role in the range with the 4-door CLA Coupé. A real game of the seven mistakes?
We are now used to Mercedes, the best way to dominate a segment is still to create it. The 4-door Coupes are a Mercedes invention! And it works, even in compact cars. Since its launch in 2013, no less than 750,000 CLAs have been sold across the world. Stifling competition by saturating the market with an over-supply is the strategy!
But sometimes, declining your range endlessly can be risky. Because Mercedes has just launched the all-new A-Class sedan. Beautiful, comfortable, pragmatic… This one turns out to be more than a favorite purchase. So what will CLA be like today when it comes to a sister who has everything to please? Can success be shared? Cannibalisation in sight or true complementarity? This is the real question! Direction Spain and the region of Barcelona for a fratricidal face to face.
Extract from the broadcast of June 30, 2019
A Class A sedan on one side, a CLA coupe on the other. At first glance, two almost twin models: same platform, same size, same 4-door body. We even pushed the parallel by opting for two identical AMG Line finishes in order to be able to compare them on equal terms.
One question: what is the difference between a sedan and a 4-door Coupe? In fact, everything is a story of philosophy. And this can already be seen stylistically with a CLA with a more aggressive face. Gathered look, double embossing of the hood, more ventilated shield. The proportions are also more athletic than those of the Class A. The body is 3 cm wider and especially longer by almost 14 cm (4.69 m vs 4.55 m), mainly at the overhang. back. At the same time, the roof is 1 cm lower while the body belt is higher. The result is a taut silhouette with a tapered glass surface and a receding roof that give it a slender and sporty look. And this is confirmed from the back with more marked shoulders, fine optics and a license plate offset in the shield to accentuate the impression of width. Everything is done to make the look as dynamic and muscular as possible. This is the main purchase criterion for buyers of CLA.
Opposite, the Class A sedan relies on a more classic design, a more traditional style. The front is almost too consensual and the straight roof line reveals a more rational spirit promoting livability. Very serious as a positioning! The rear, on the other hand, particularly stocky, especially in our AMG Line finish, has real character. But overall, we can see that the Class A sedan is more sober. Perfect for a slightly older clientele, looking for a vehicle that is a little more discreet but just as classy. More practical too.
A more livable Class A sedan
Let’s take advantage of the trunk side to observe that a coupe can be more spacious than a sedan. This is obviously expected since the car is 14 cm longer. The CLA therefore has a slightly larger boot: 460 vs 420 liters. On the other hand, the higher loading threshold and the smaller opening make it a little less practical. The A-Class sedan also stands out in the rear seats with easier access that does not require you to hunker down. Once on board, the knee room is identical. Logical since they share their platform and have the same wheelbase. On the other hand, the headroom of the sedan is more generous. This can already represent a first weighty argument when making a choice.
Two cars, an identical interior, or almost. Unlike those of the Coupé CLA, the doors of the sedan have a real entourage. Otherwise, the two models share the same design. We find the same furniture and the same on-board technologies including the famous MBUX multimedia system combining the instrumentation unit and the touch screen of the central console. In fact all the elements that make up this dashboard are shared. With the exception of the seats. The CLA is indeed the only one to be able to have more enveloping semi-bucket seats. The seat height does not change, but the lateral support is up to the look.
A comfortable Class A sedan, but not only.
Mechanical level, the two models have the same engines. To be fair and not to distort the comparison, we have chosen two 200 versions, powered by a 163 hp 1.3-liter 4-cylinder petrol engine. An engine a little fair for the dynamic claims of the CLA but which fits perfectly with the spirit of the Class A sedan.
As a reminder, the two models share the same technical basis. Nothing to do with that of their big sister the C-Class since we are dealing with two pull-ups. Nevertheless, the first sensations aboard the A-Class sedan are surprising: comfort has always been the hallmark of Mercedes and the manufacturer clearly confirms its know-how in the field with this new model.
In fact, it is precisely by not having to make compromises that the engineers were able to achieve this result. We are aboard a vehicle carefully tuned to offer a pleasant and peaceful driving experience. The highly assisted steering and flexible suspension provide optimal driving pleasure in smooth damping and mechanical operation.
The body sags a little on its support when entering a curve so as not to heckle its occupants. Nothing unpleasant on a daily basis. Quite simply, a very rational vehicle. Good surprise, however, if we increase the pace since the Class A also knows how to be particularly efficient. More than the CLA itself, which for its part oversees more, is more playful!
A particularly dynamic CLA
If the atmosphere is the same, however, we completely change the world on board the CLA. The damping and the firmer steering make driving clearly more dynamic and precise. The cash movements are better maintained and the front end is more incisive. It remains nevertheless a story of sensations since we gain in stability but not really in pure efficiency.
Moreover, these settings give the feeling that the CLA is lighter than the A-Class sedan while it is the opposite (1,420 kg vs 1,385 kg). As proof, with identical engines, this one concedes a small tenth of a second to the sedan on the exercise of 0 to 100 km / h: 8,2s vs 8,1s!