JOHANNESBURG - When Mercedes-Benz first announced a sedan variant of its new-generation A-Class, many found themselves confused. Is it not just a new CLA then? Will there even be a new CLA?
But as you might know, the company decided to do both - an A-Class Sedan which took the form of a more conventional saloon, and a new CLA with a swoopier roofline and more coupe inspiration in its design. In fact, Mercedes-Benz insists that we call it a Coupe. Ok then..
Both have just been launched in South Africa, and in case you’re struggling to decide which one is for you, let’s size them up.
Both share the company’s compact front-wheel-drive architecture as well as a 2729mm wheelbase, but the CLA is a good 139mm longer than the A-Class sedan as well as 34mm wider and 7mm lower.
As mentioned, it also has a more distinctive and sportier design, at the expense of rear occupant space, as well some different engine options. But pricing will be a big factor for many, with the A-Class ranging between R533 400 and R604 800, and the CLA costing between R570 500 and R612 800, at least if we’re speaking of the launch range - there are more powerful CLA variants on the way too.
Let’s take a quick look at each:
Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan - the 'sensible' four-door
The A-Class four-door is initially available in two flavours: A200 and A250 Sport, and here the mechanicals match the hatch models, with the former getting its motivation from a 1.3-litre turbopetrol with 120kW and 250Nm on tap, and the latter getting a 2-litre turbo motor that’s good for 165kW and 350Nm. Both power the front-wheels only through seven-speed dual-clutch automated gearboxes.
Also as per the A hatch, the cabin command centre is the new MBUX operating system with artificial intelligence, and which can be operated via touchscreen, touchpad, voice control or touch control buttons on the steering wheel.
Buyers can choose between two configurations. Both feature two screens - one replacing the instrument cluster and the other serving as a central infotainment screen - but the standard version gives you a pair of 17.78cm displays and the upgraded option treats you to two 26cm screens.
In addition to the MBUX system, which also features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, standard features on the A200 include cruise control, automatic climate control, a multi-function sports steering wheel, Artico synthetic leather seat upholstery and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
In addition to that, the A250 packs LED headlights with Adaptive Highbeam Assist, an AMG exterior styling package that includes 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, lowered suspension, multi-link rear axle, sports seats, galvanised steering-mounted gearshift paddles and electrically folding mirrors.
Both models offer a long list of optional packages, allowing buyers to select gadgets like Active Distance Assist, Pre-Safe, Head-Up Display, Keyless Go, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Parking Assist, 360-degree camera and much more.
A-Class Sedan Prices:
A250 Sport petrol
Mercedes-Benz CLA - the "emotional" choice
Mercedes describes the new CLA (four-door) Coupe as the “most emotional” vehicle in its class, and like its predecessor, it features an exterior design inspired by the larger CLS, only it seems somewhat more resolved this time around.
The initial engine range includes the aforementioned 120kW/250Nm 1.3 turbopetrol in the CLA 200 and a 2-litre turbodiesel, with 140kW and 400Nm, in the CLA 220d model. There is no mention of a CLA 250 version at this stage, but the website does list two AMG models, the 225kW CLA 35 and 310kW CLA 45 S, which are due to come on stream at a later stage.
The CLA’s cabin is similar to that in the A-Class Sedan, with the key interface also being the previously mentioned MBUX system with intelligent voice control.
Standard kit in the CLA 200 and CLA 220d is mostly as per the A-Class Sedan, with amenities including cruise control, automatic climate control, a multi-function sports steering wheel, Artico synthetic leather seat upholstery and a tyre pressure monitoring system. However, multi-link rear suspension is fitted across the board here. The CLA also offers similar options packages to its four-door sibling.
Likewise, a five-year/100 000km maintenance plan is part of the deal.