Stylish, grown-up design. The all-new 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class gets styling from the more expensive and larger Mercedes CLS-Class to help separate it from the Mercedes A-Class, the brand's new entry point. The CLA still manages to look like its own model, but now fits in with the automaker’s more prestigious vehicles, instead of looking like an outcast.
Maintaining its coupe-forward design, the CLA features a roofline that has a gentle arc to it. In addition to that small design element, the CLA also has a stubby rear end, a low ride height, and a built-in spoiler to create flowing lines that blend in with sporty elements. The front end goes from being cutesy to muscular with narrower headlights, a smaller grille, and more prominent lines on the hood.
The interior gets a massive makeover, too, moving away from lackluster materials and hard plastics to nicer, high-quality products. An entirely redesigned dashboard now encompasses Mercedes’ wide-screen displays, a less cluttered center console, and cleaner lines. The redesign has seen the CLA go from being an entry-level luxury sedan to a stylish and high-tech vehicle that’s worthy of the three-pointed star.
A major tech upgrade. For the 2020 model year, Mercedes has drastically increased the number of tech consumers will find in the CLA. Standard features now include a 7-inch touchscreen, smartphone compatibility for both Apple and Android users, a total of five USB ports, and an excellent MBUX infotainment system. At the CLA’s starting price point, seeing these features is a surprise.
Optional features are just as impressive. Mercedes offers a 10.25-inch touchscreen, an augmented video for the navigation system, a Burmester surround-sound system, a head-up display, and wireless charging. Gone are the days when you’d have to upgrade to a higher model to get the latest tech.
Lively engines. There are a total of three available engines, with two of them being offered by AMG. While the base CLA 250’s power rating of 221 horsepower may not impress in a straight line, the smoothness of the overall drivetrain and the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission will.
Mercedes updated the CLA’s suspension and electric power steering system to ensure the sedan provides a more lavish ride. For an even more luxurious experience, the CLA is now available with adaptive dampers that straddle the line of being firm and refined. It’s a massive improvement over last year’s model.
If you’d like more power, the AMG CLA 35 ups the ante with 302 hp. The bump in power results in a 0-60 mph time that’s 1.7 seconds quicker than the regular CLA 250. The AMG CLA 35 also adds three-mode stability control, all-wheel drive, larger brakes, and more drive modes. All of these things add up to a CLA that’s just as smooth and comfortable, but much more capable.
The AMG CLA 45 puts out 382 horsepower and even more performance components. This range-topping model will be able to get to 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.1 seconds. Six drive modes and a fully variable AWD system also help it stand out.
Don’t expect comfortable quarters. Mercedes calls the CLA a coupe, despite the model having four doors. What it ends up being is a funny way of saying that the CLA doesn’t have the same amount of interior space as a traditional sedan.
While the new CLA has more interior space than last year’s model, it’s still not what we’d call spacious. Rear legroom is up, now measuring in at 33.9 inches, but headroom is still an issue.
Measuring in at just 11.6 cubic feet of space, the CLA has even less cargo space than last year’s sedan. The drop in trunk space is what allowed Mercedes to add more room in the second row, but the drop means that the sedan isn’t something you’d want to take for a trip to the beach.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Mercedes CLA-Class fixes a lot of issues with the previous model. It has a more comfortable ride, more tech, a better-looking design, and continues to come with peppy engines. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has been updated too, resulting in a more comfortable driving experience.
We’re happy with all of the changes Mercedes has made, but the issues we have are the same ones we had with the old model. While you’ll find more interior space in the new CLA, it’s still not super comfortable for passengers in the back. Seeing a smaller trunk than last year is infuriating, as it makes the CLA even less practical.
As far as competitors go, the BMW 2-Series Gran Coupe is the most obvious rival. It’s more affordable, has a more powerful base engine, and a trunk that measures in at 15.1 cubic feet of space. The Audi A3 has a more traditional sedan body, more space for passengers in the back, a more powerful base engine, and a slightly larger trunk.
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