What's New for 2015
Just a year after its introduction, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class gets some significant changes. Last year's standard sport suspension has been replaced by a softer comfort suspension on the CLA250 (the sport suspension is now optional). In addition, dual-zone automatic climate control and a keyless ignition are now standard, while full keyless access to your CLA is available as an option. Also, a larger 7-inch center display screen is now standard, and an 8-inch screen is optional. Finally, the standard frontal collision warning system has been upgraded to provide earlier brake support in potential collision situations.
An entry-level luxury sedan promising the allure of Mercedes-Benz ownership at prices more attainable to the masses, the CLA-Class was introduced with great fanfare. A memorable Super Bowl commercial featured a man ready to sell his soul to the devil for a Mercedes until he realized the CLA250 was so inexpensive he wouldn't need to negotiate with Lucifer. Just a scant year later, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 gets a small price bump. It no longer sneaks in below $30, 000, but it comes with some additional standard equipment to help offset that. More importantly, it's still significantly less expensive than the Mercedes C-Class, so even though it makes some compromises here and there, it's worth a look if you're shopping for an entry-level luxury car.
Although it's Mercedes-Benz's least expensive model, the Edmunds "B"-rated CLA-Class feels like an authentic luxury sedan. In our yearlong test of a CLA250 we found the front seats quite comfortable for road trips and daily commuting alike. Moreover, most of the interior surfaces you come in contact with are high-quality, and the build quality is outstanding. The COMAND electronics interface is easy to use, and functionally, it's one of our favorites on the market. Additional standard equipment for 2015 includes keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control and a 7-inch infotainment screen (a new 8-inch screen is optional). All these upgrades also apply to the CLA45 AMG (which also earns an Edmunds "B" rating), which offers 355 horsepower, standard all-wheel drive and stunning straight-line performance.
While the 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class may be a likable car, it's harder to argue that it's the most practical buy in the segment. Due to the car's compact size and dramatically sloping roof line, headroom and legroom are extremely tight in the rear seat. An overly stiff ride was another issue we had with last year's car. Mercedes has switched to a more comfortable setup on the 2015 CLA250 (the previous sport suspension is now optional), aiming for a smoother ride over less than perfect pavement. We haven't yet tested a 2015 Mercedes CLA250 with this revised suspension, and we'll update this review once we have. And although the CLA has an attractively low base MSRP, prices can quickly inflate with just a few basic options, and items you might expect to be standard (like a rearview camera and heated seats) are optional. Meanwhile, the CLA45 AMG isn't exactly a bargain, with a starting price perilously close to $50, 000.