February 22, 2020 By Paolo de Borja Photos by the author

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 180 Progressive

Youthful Oppulence

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 180 Progressive is one gorgeous piece of machine.

The new four-door coupe may be one of Mercedes-Benz’s smallest offering in the passenger car arena, but its presence on the road cannot be overlooked even when compared to its bigger siblings or other German counterparts. It all starts with the overall coupe design, frameless doors, and swooping roofline, which remind me of the time when the CLS-Class first made waves in 2004. The rear gets new and slimmer LED taillights that emphasize the width and sportiness of the small sedan. Complementing this theme are 18-inch alloy wheels. But the meanest angle of the CLA has to be in its front design. The angular LED headlights with daytime-running lights are neither too slim nor bulky. Between them is the signature aggressive-looking diamond grille with the German badge right-smack in the middle. What’s truly exceptional with the style of the car is how everything looks fluidic, but the face is very sharp and isn’t at all shy to show off a vicious aura.

Now, I must admit there were some aspects of the interior I expected to be better once I stepped inside a Merc. Bits of scratchy, hard plastic were evident on the lower part of the interior – such as the lower portion of the center console. The air-conditioning controls also felt quite flimsy as I played around with it. Such observations are not something I would normally mind in some Japanese models, but it definitely deserves more attention when it comes to the luxury brands. But all these can be forgiven because of how everything else in the interior was designed and categorized – starting with the dashboard.

The CLA has one of the best-looking dashboard designs in modern luxury cars. Equipped with the latest MBUX system, the long screen that extends from the driver’s side to the middle of the dash combines the instrument cluster and infotainment system – each with its own 7-inch digital display. And it’s not all about the size of the screen, I must say. The displays are crisp and easy on the eyes whether used in the daytime or nighttime. And despite the collection of information and features underneath the system, the operation was easy to understand thanks to how the options were organized. The new MBUX system also has hand gesture control and intelligent voice control that can be activated by simply saying “Hey Mercedes.” The coupe-inspired design might have compromised headroom for rear passengers, but the CLA surely has more trunk space than the very similar A-Class. Besides some aforementioned hard plastics, everything else from the door panels and upper center console are wrapped with glossy black material, leather, and leatherette. The multi-function steering wheel also felt great to handle and operate.

Under the hood is a turbocharged 1.3-liter inline-4 engine matched with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission capable of making a modest 136 bhp and 148 lb-ft. of torque. It actually felt quite planted and very capable despite the smaller powertrain and stature of the car. On the highway, its pull was more than satisfactory and the transmission was responsive once I stepped on the throttle.

The CLA 180 Progressive is all about the design and it looks absolutely outstanding from every angle. With a compact size and a number of convenience and driving assistance features, it’s a Mercedes-Benz you wouldn’t mind having as a daily, assuming you can afford the PhP 3,190,000.00 price tag.

Specifications

Engine

Engine Inline-4, 1322 cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo, 7-speed DCT
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 134 bhp @ 5500 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 148 lb ft. @ 1460 rpm

Performance

Top Speed 215 km/h (134 mph)
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 9.4 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 11.9 km/L Combined

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) 9/10
What's Great handsome and a definite looker from any angle, exceptional MBUX system, interior space for a small sedan, responsive transmission
What's Not So bits of hard plastic on lower center console and door sidings, lack of rear air-conditioning vents
C! Editors Rating PhP 3,190,000.00
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