We always urge you to connect your own dots in a fashion that resonates and makes sense to you. Obvious that when you connect dots, it might just disrupt some of your previous thoughts.
As you probably know, we have been driving Benzes for a few decades, and have our own ideas of what is a Benz. Within the Strada Crew we have our own preferences regarding luxury sedans. Usually its at least mid size, ideally with a V8, ideally rear wheel drive, with a superb interior, a killer sound system, and a serious level of waftability, as well as some technology toys.
Every so often we engage in dinner discussions facilitated with barolo, brunello, ripasso and depending on the number of participants one bottle might not suffice.
One of the V8 sedans required service, and our local Benz dealer provided a CLA courtesy car for a few days. Its a huge event we have a CLA for a couple of days. We tried to get a CLA, but Mercedes-Benz Canada abides to pre historic, close minded guidelines for their press cars (you must be a member of a medieval guild). We do not agree with their guidelines, and they probably think that we are obtuse in our position.
At the end of the day Strada is our publication, we uphold our position.
The CLA looks good, and you can quickly see where the cost savings have been applied to arrive at a price point. Agreed...most if not all experts, journalists, folks that have reviewed the CLA all have reservations about the car for one reason or another.
In our dinner conversation which started with a bottle of Tomasi Ripasso, and continued with a Fontanafredda Barolo and the simple question
"What is the difference between the V8 (twin turbo) sedan that is in for service and the CLA?
We could give a lenthy point by point comparison, which is also not accurate since the V8 sedan is double the money of the CLA. The engine in the CLA sounds like a coffee grinder (awful), its a mini CLS (good thing), its agile on surface streets, not much power until it hits 4,000 RPM. Its always in "sport mode" to get it to pull.
It rides rough, but still fun on surface streets. Reasonable power on the highway, will not get you in trouble like a V8 sedan. The visibility is challenging, some of the materials for the interior are cost conscious. The seats are comfortable.
What was surprising
Comparing a CLA to a V8 sedan of double the money, this CLA is suddenly not so bad (compared to a bunch of reviews). Agreed...there are numerous sedans the size of the CLA that are probably just as good. But its not a Benz, now the all important branding kicks in.
Its a generation thing
You could say that a V8 sedan is a "Boomer" car, while the CLA is a "Millennial" car. Now the demographics kick in.
If you are seeking the classic and enduring Mercedes-Benz V8 sedan feel, performance, interior appointments the CLA is abosolutely not for you. It will come short in every parameter, starting with the coffee grinder sound when you start it.
If you are seeking a fun, stylish, 4 cylinder car for surface streets, with reasonable highway performance (compared to a V8) and luxury credentials. Then the CLA is worth considering especially for half the money.