June 18, 2021 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Andréas N. Delos Reyes

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLA180 Progressive

Maturing Mini CLS

The 2nd generation Mercedes-Benz CLA is a substantial evolution of the brand entry model. Compared to its predecessor, the all-new CLA (also known in most markets now as the A-class sedan) uses a longer by 30 mm (1.2 inches) new 2729 mm MFA2 chassis which allowed more surface area to improve the overall design and yield more generous dimensions. The new model is 48 mm (1.9 inches) longer and 53 mm (2.1 inches) wider but has a slightly lower ceiling by 2 mm (0.1 inches). The old C117 CLA model was a commercial success principally because of its affordability despite having a generally rough ride and inconsistent packaging.

This new model is considerably better. The overall design is more elegant and sensual. You don’t get the feeling that you are forcing the issue to get into the brand by settling. The feeling now is the direct opposite; you feel like you are in a proper Mercedes-Benz that only differentiates itself from its current siblings by proportions and packaging. The only visually offensive feature on the body is the fake dual rear exhaust trim; except for that, the all-new CLA looks great with the tasteful snowflake designed 18 x 7.5J alloys wrapped with compliant 225/45R18 91W Hankook Ventus S1 evo2 tires. 

Our Patagonia Red Mercedes-Benz C180 Progressive test unit (with black ARTICO leather interior with Carbon-fiber-look trim) certainly looks like it could get your adrenaline rushing until you open her up. Mercedes-Benz Philippines is doing their absolute best to package their vehicles with as much standard equipment possible while controlling their retail prices. They know full well that the luxury market is at its most challenging now, and they need volume sales so they are not pricing the cars to sit on the showroom floor. Having said that, naturally there are compromises. If you want the full-blown high performance AMG models, Mercedes-Benz Philippines will definitely still sell them to you even if you can only truly explore the dynamics on the racetrack. Yes, there are new road arteries opening up all over the archipelago but they are also now very speed regulated too.

High top-speeds are not important anymore, but acceleration, fuel efficiency, safety, ride and comfort are paramount. Sure, I wish the CLA200 were sold instead of the CLA180 at the same price as it uses exactly the same drivetrain and overachieving 1.3-liter direct injection turbocharged engine but the ECU tuning is more aggressive. However, what is more crucial for everyday driving entertainment would have been the optional 225-watt multi-speaker Mercedes-Benz Advanced Sound system and the neat 64-color ambient lighting to complement the 7-inch touchscreen MBUX multimedia system with 180° reversing camera instead of the packaged standard 100-watt system with no cool cabin lighting.

The signature front and rear LED lighting is excellent. With the very quiet engine combined with an almost completely flat underbody, completely retuned suspension (MacPherson strut/wishbone front, multilink rear) and slippery .27 cd skin, the poised front-wheel driven CLA180 truly drives very well. The steering is precise and nicely weighted. The front seats are comfortable and supportive while the rear is till best used for only two passengers. It is a pity, though, that the rear seats do not have their own a/c vents. The trunk holds 255 liters of capacity. The brakes are excellent, 12.6-inch vented discs up front with 11.6-inch discs at the rear that support a comprehensive active and passive safety suite. As an entry model to the world of Mercedes-Benz, the CLA model range is exponentially better than before and is now genuinely desirable beyond the halo AMG variants.

Specifications

Engine

Engine Inline-4
Displacement 1332 cc
Cylinder Head dohc 16V
Fuel Injector Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 134 bhp @ 5500 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 148 lb-ft @ 1460-4000 rpm
Transmission 7-Speed DCT

Performance

Top Speed 216 km/h (134 mph)
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 8.9 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 5.8 L/100 km Overall

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) PhP 3,290,000.00
What's Great Considerably better than its predecessor, styling, excellent build-quality, good ride and handling, very smooth and efficient
What's Not So Price. Faux dual exhaust trim. No rear a/c vents. CLA200 much more appropriate for the class
C! Editors Rating 9/10
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