The Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport and GLA 250.
The Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport and GLA 250.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 and GLA 250 4Matic road test review

MEET the new pair spearheading the modern Mercedes-Benz assault.

This dynamic all-wheel duo is forecast to lead the popularity contests of the CLA compact saloon and the GLA small SUV ranges.

While powered by the same turbocharged four-cylinder engine, they possess distinctly different personalities wearing opposing clothing.

The GLA starts from just shy of $58,000, while an extra seven grand will get you behind the wheel of the CLA.

We travelled to New Zealand to sample the latest additions.


Choosing between the CLA and GLA would be dictated by lifestyle needs.

Mercedes calls the CLA a four-door coupe (the traditionalists will argue coupes can only be two-door), which is a fair indicator of the internal space. Rear-seat accommodation has limited leg and head room.

The taller proportions of the GLA make it the smarter choice for those with active lifestyles or kids, or for the less nimble who appreciate the greater ride height.

Both variants feature functional and well-laid-out cabins that have helped the A-Class become so popular. The driver has clear instruments, with the option of toggling through to a digital speedometer for quick reference.

Accessing the various operations such as sat nav, radio and phone can be done via shortcut keys, and then by use of the console dial.

The colour screen is embedded on the dash and there have been some criticisms of it looking like an afterthought. While it would look cleaner if it had electronic fold-away functionality, rarely are you not using something on the screen and it features improved rigidity in its current format.

Both cabins have a premium edge with leather trim, cool dash inserts and the jet-fighter-engine-looking vents, but the CLA is more athletic with a range of sporting upgrades.

On the road

Punchy, strong and linear, the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder is a rewarding powerplant. We loved it in the A250 Sport and this is no different.

The key is a flat torque curve, with the 350Nm of torque seemingly always at the ready.

For anyone seeking sporty performance, the CLA is the obvious choice. Mercedes-Benz Australia was initially getting only the front-wheel drive version, but went with the all-paw derivative as it could get faster delivery.

Despite gaining 50kg due to the all-wheel drivetrain, it's actually slightly quicker than the front-wheeler in the 0-100kmh sprint at 6.6 seconds.

In truth the front-wheel drive system is so competent that it takes plenty of work for the rear wheel power to be required. Loss of traction leads to all-wheel drive occurring in milliseconds, with up to

50% of torque able to be directed down back.

Detecting rear-wheel intervention is difficult and could only be felt on some really testing New Zealand switchbacks.

The CLA has a much rortier exhaust soundtrack (the centre silencer is removed) and due to being co-engineered by performance specialist AMG, it delivers a much firmer ride than the GLA.

Lowered suspension and a thicker anti-roll bar inspires confidence and the CLA hangs onto the bitumen with a vice-like grip.

Riding higher in the GLA makes it more compliant over bumps and lumps, yet it still manages to stay flat in the bends.

We even took the GLA off-road. It was terrain probably rarely considered by buyers in this realm, but the four-wheel drive system handles some muddy and rocky trails without missing a beat.

What do you get?

Both come with your standard luxury kit including dual-zone air-con, cruise control, a 14.7cm colour display, leather trim, panoramic sunroof, sat nav, bi-xenon headlights and daytime running lamps, along with a CD stereo that has USB/auxiliary ports as well as Bluetooth phone and audio streaming.

The GLA 250 also comes with an off-road pack that has hill ascent and descent control functions.

Being the sporty variant, the CLA 250 comes with nicer red-cut leather (rather than the man-made stuff), flat-bottom steering wheel, racier aluminium dash finishes, red seat belts (you can option black for no cost) and sports pedals.


With extra boot space and the large opening rear door, the GLA wins in the functionality stakes.

Running costs

Official figures have both vehicles averaging about seven litres per 100km, but we were closer to nine, albeit with careless use of the right pedal.

Long servicing intervals are a feature of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, but maintenance can be expensive. Servicing plans are available where monthly payments enable you to pay up front.

Funky factor

There seems to be little sitting on the fence when it comes to the CLA. It's either loved or hated.

We love the coupe-like lines and find it has ample street appeal, especially with the body kit and diamond grille.

The GLA also boasts some awesome design attributes, particularly alluring from the rear end with the dual pipes and strong shoulder lines.

The lowdown

This is a cracking new pairing.

Everything Mercedes-Benz touches turns to gold at the moment, highlighted by the three-pointed star entering the Australian top 10-selling marques in May.

Premium buyers love value and the combination of kit and performance will woo customers into this all-paw duo.

There is no bad choice here. Both have good looks and a rewarding driving experience. Want sporty and showmanship, opt for the CLA. Want style with practicality, buy the GLA

What matters most

What we liked: Good looks of both models (although not everyone agrees with the CLA), punchy turbocharged engine performance.

What we'd like to see: Function to show front and rear drive split.

Warranty and servicing: Three-year/ unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing intervals are annual or every 25,000km.


Models: Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4Matic and GLA 250 4Matic

Details: All-wheel-drive, four-door compact sedan and five-door compact SUV

Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder generating maximum power of 155kW @ 5500rpm and peak torque of 350Nm @ 1200-4000rpm (CLA has 10 extra kilowatts on overboost above 4000rpm for 30 seconds)

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

Consumption: 7.0 litres/100km

CO2: CLA 154g/km; GLA 162g/km

Performance: CLA 0-100kmh in 6.6 seconds; GLA 7.1 seconds

Bottom line: CLA 4Matic $64,900; GLA 4Matic $57,900

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