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Mercedes-Benz CLA is sporty and a touch impractical

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For those waiting for the CLA, Mercedes' baby sedan, there is good news. And there's bad. The good news is, it looks stunning in the flesh as it did in the pictures, which is great. The not-so-good news is that it's not exactly as spacious as one would expect it to be.

The CLA, based on the Modulat Front Architecture (MFA) platform will hit showrooms in India by early-2014 and is likely to go against the A3 saloon, based on Volkswagen's new MQB platform. Designed on the outset to be more a four-door coupe, in the same vein as the CLS, rather than a full-fledged sedan, it does have certain restrictions.

During the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, we did manage to spend some time in the CLA. On the outset, it does appear to be quite a quality product and it certainly does have quite some appeal with lots of features and a youthful outlook. The seats are sporty, supportive and a bit firm up front. But it's at the rear that things aren't, ahem, all that inviting. Headroom, for someone measuring even 5'7" is low and the upright back rest and short seat squab means that under thigh support is tight. Legroom is strictly okay and so is knee room, but it's not going to trouble the likes of the Volkswagen Jetta or the upcoming Skoda Octavia in that regard. Boot space is good too, if you go through the detail pictures in the gallery below.

Motors are expected to be shared with the likes of the A and B-Class, so expect the same set of four-cylinder petrol and diesel motors for India with the possibility of a CLA 45 AMG not being ruled out either. We expect the CLA 200 CDI and CLA 250 petrol to be likely candidates. No manual transmissions, just 7-G, dual-clutch automatics will hold true here too and prices could start northwards of Rs 24 lakh. Will it succeed? As a chauffeur-driven car, the first signs don't seem quite bright, unless Mercedes-Benz opts for a different type of rear seat configuration for markets like India. However, with most of the smaller premium cars aimed at the 'personally driven' lot, there is still a possibility that it could do well.