As I hinted last week, /DRIVE hosts want to help buyers of regular cars (i.e., not 800-hp drift cars, exotic hybrid supercars or twin-engined hot rods) to make good car-buying decisions. And so, let Matt Farah introduce you to the very first TEST/DRIVE.
Earlier this year, I spent a week in Europe, and got up close and personal with the new A-Class, the gorgeous 5-door hatchback that can now be seen in every village across Europe. America, of course, does not import the best hatchbacks, so when Mercedes decided to bring the A-Class over here, they made sure not to include the hatchback in their plans.
Instead, we get the version that looks like it's been sitting on a hot plate a little too long, the CLA. While the manic AMG drivetrain you get in the "45" version of this car is enough to make you forget your own name, let alone what the exterior looks like, the 250 version I'm driving here…. isn't. Especially when you're driving the "Edition One" version, with one option box leading to $15,000 worth of options, and increasing the CLA's MSRP by 50 percent. Value? I swear I had some value around here somewhere, where'd it go?
Under the hood, you've got a turbo four-banger making 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. There's no question it's a four-cylinder when you rev it out, as it sounds a bit wheezy, but it does make decent power once you put it in sport mode and rev it out a bit. In standard "D" mode, it really favors economy, which, for the enthusiast, means lazy and slow, despite the numbers indicating lots of low-end torque.
The back seat is only useful if the driver is about the size of a small high school girl, which makes sense, considering that's who will end up driving 90 percent of these things. "But Daddy, Mercedes are safer than Toyotas!"
Fortunately, it really does feel and look like a Benz from behind the wheel. The gauges would look right at home in the SLS; the steering wheel works in the C63 AMG, and the dashboard is very familial, with the exception of the tacked-on nav screen. You could sneeze in the back seat and take that sucker down.
Basically, what I'm saying is that if you really want a Mercedes badge, and you don't mind having a four-seater that only seats two, a turbo engine that isn't fast, and a whole lot of options that are worth squat on resale, "But it's the Edition One! What do you mean that doesn't matter now?" The CLA250 is the one to have. If not, you could spend an extra $5,000 and get the AMG version with nearly double the power and AWD. Guess which one I'd rather do?
Needless to say, TEST/DRIVE is about practical advice. And we want yours. As we roll out TEST/DRIVE in the coming weeks, please let us know what you think. Enough info? Too much? More nudity?