2024 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic

Entry-level Benz gets modest
refreshing; 13 more horsepower

By Jim Prueter

(March 31, 2024) The Mercedes CLA is the smallest Mercedes offering and the second-most affordable in their lineup next to the GLA crossover utility vehicle. Mimicking the expensive facade looks of the S-class luxury sedan in a scaled down form. Its styling is handsome and the interior is reasonably upscale and modern.

For the 2024 model year, the CLA-class receives a modest refreshing including design tweaks to the front end with a revised mesh grille and a new diffuser at the rear of the vehicle. Other changes for 2024 adds two new color options, new interior trim elements, illuminated USB ports, and Mercedes MBUX infotainment system has been updated with a new display style and the addition of wireless smartphone connection capability through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

But the biggest change is with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that has received a hybrid element via a now coupled belt-driven starter-generator connected to a 48-volt power supply. That system adds an additional 13 horsepower bring maximum output to 221-horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

Power is delivered through the seven-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and Mercedes 4Matic all-wheel drive is available. Five trim levels are available starting with the Premium at $44,350 and moving up to the top level Pinnacle 4Matic starting at $53,400. Our test CLA250 provided by Mercedes was the mid-level Premium 4Matic with a base MSRP of $46,350 including designation and delivery charges.

The CLA -class is also offered in Mercedes' dialed up performance AMG versions with six trim levels with horsepower rising to as much as 416 and starting prices as high as high as $70,000 plus options.

Inside, the instrument panel is upscale in appearance and definitely smacks of Mercedes with its clean, modern design, trio of turbine circular air vents prominently amid the center dash, the brand's latest infotainment system that features a touchpad-equipped steering wheel and console-mounted control pad.

A 10.3-inch display screen is standard along with our optional Burmester Surround System that features the Dolby Atmosphere sound experience. All models come with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration as well as the "Hey Mercedes" voice assistant. The options list includes SiriusXM satellite radio, Traffic signal assist, leather interior, heated front seats, driver assistance package and more.

Most operating controls for the vehicle can only be done by the touchscreen, steering wheel buttons or voice activation commands. While most of the operational functions are somewhat easy to use, some may find the many and varied functions overly complicated. There's a definite learning curve to master plethora of controls, knobs, buttons, switches and voice commands.

The CLA250 is a small, sporty yet upscale car with limited cabin and trunk space. Taller drivers - 6-foot and above will essentially render no rear seating space behind the driver who will necessarily adjust the front seat rearward to its max. In doing so, the driver's left visibility will be severely impaired by the B pillar that will be inline with their shoulder. For those who occupy the rear seat, headroom is compromised by the coupe-like sloping rear roof. Legroom is tight as well.

The CLA has a minuscule 13.0 cubic feet of trunk space, enough for a couple of travel suitcases or perhaps two golf bags but that's it. We also found the remote trunk release snaps the trunk lid open extremely fast, so those who are standing close to the rear of the vehicle ready to load or unload its contents could get hit in the chin or head by the speed of the trunk opening.

On the road we found the CLA to cater to those who prefer a sporty, athletically handling, responsive accelerating vehicle to drive. It's handling is noble, confident with a firm suspension that delivers spirited driving but necessitates a less comfortable ride. Brakes and steering are confident and predictable. Our test CLA sprinted to 60 mph from a standing start in just over 5 seconds. Different driver selectable driving modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Individual) allows for the ability to tailor the CLA's driving performance to individual preferences.

Safety and driver-assistance features include a standard 360-degree camera, standard automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rearview camera, driver-attention monitoring, crosswind assist which helps keep the vehicle stable when it detects strong winds, and available lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control.

Overall, the CLA250 is the entry-level vehicle to owning a new Mercedes-Benz with a vehicle that delivers on spirited driving dynamics, the classic Mercedes looks, upscale interior and materials and loaded with a sufficient amount of advanced technology to keep technophobes satisfied. But know that this is a small vehicle with little space for passengers and their cargo with a cramped interior and a ride that may be too firm for some. Still, if you want a small sporty, upscale car the CLA250 is definitely worth a look.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $45,200
Price as Tested: $61,370
Engine: 221-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with all-wheel drive
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy: 25/35/28 - City/Highway/Combined
Seats: 5

Where Built: Kecskemet, Hungary

Competes With:
Acura Integra
Audi A3
BMW 2-Series
Infiniti Q50
Lexus IS
Volvo S60

Crash Test Safety Ratings: The CLA250 has not been crash tested by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as of this writing.

Attractive upscale styling
Sporty driving dynamics
Rich with technology and driver assist features

Cramped interior
Price jumps quickly with options
Somewhat complicated operating controls