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Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 a marmite machine


One of my fondest primary school memories was lunch time during first break; you see I had a group of friends who would join me every day at a specific bench where we’d unpack the mystery box of delights that were our lunch boxes.

In-between the peanut butter sarmies, polony, ham, chicken mayo and even the occasional spaghetti bolognaise-infused bread roll was always that one guy who received Marmite or Bovril. Some of my friends were envious while others absolutely hated the tarry substance staining the two slices of bread..

Recently I drove a car that was the automotive equivalent, in my opinion at least, to Marmite. When the Mercedes-Benz CLA was first launched, there were people who absolutely loved it and others who thought it was hideous.

Despite a recent refreshment, I had two camps surrounding the car when I asked about the styling, much like before. The CLA isn’t really my cup of tea or erm... my kind of sandwich.

Its coupe-esque roof line coupled with the fact that is has four doors creates a droopy silhouette rather than a sleek, sophisticated saloupé vibe if you will. The problem is that the sloped roof line does compromise read head room, making the A-class a better practical option. The car now has new headlamps, revised bumpers, a diamond shape front grille and the option of new alloy wheels designs... mild makeover indeed.

Inside, there have been more changes which include a new instrument cluster with better-looking and more legible instruments, new seat trims and an improved and more slender eight-inch tablet infotainment system.

The system, while perhaps looking like it was stuck to the top of the dashboard as an afterthought, is one of the better systems on the market. The usability and the features included such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make it bang up to date.

The changes certainly make the cabin look better, however, I can’t shake the fact that there are some questionable materials used throughout the cabin. The plastic used in the centre console and the material lining the door cards feel more mainstream than premium, while the visible gaps between the front door and the B-pillar are not expected in a product costing this much.

Speaking of pricing, I had the CLA 250 Sport 4Matic which, without options, costs R636 460. My test unit wasn’t without options either, making it closer to R700 000. You may think that you could get the CLA 45 AMG for that sort of money, however, that now retails for R838 714.

I mention the AMG version because I feel that that 155kW/350Nm from the 250’s 2.0-litre turbo petrol motor may not be enough, especially when you consider the fact that the car has the 4Matic all-wheel drive system and seven-speed automatic gearbox which could handle a bit more poke without any loss of traction.

Granted, it’s no slouch and will get you to 100 km/h in under 7.0 seconds, yet it is by no means a performance car as its ‘Sport’ moniker might suggest.

Mercedes-Benz also claim a combined fuel consumption figure of around 6.5-6.7 litres/100km, but the best I could manage was around 9.4 litres/100km. I also found the ride in the car to be quite harsh at times, especially on our imperfect roads.

In summation then, the CLA 250 Sport 4Matic is quite expensive, the ride is harsh, some interior materials are questionable and it doesn’t perform as well or as efficiently as expected. This is certainly not my favourite Mercedes-Benz product at the moment.

Article written by Sean Nurse
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