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Mercedes Benz CLA: Follow the three-pointed star

By Roger St. Pierre

It's all a matter of personal taste of course but while, to my amazement, the guy who services my cars reckons the new Mercedes Benz CLA is one of the ugliest cars on the road, I think is easily the prettiest car to sport the magical three-pointed star in modern times.

It also proves to be very satisfying to drive and brings an air of real luxury to the C-Class range.

After a shaky spell a few years back, Mercedes have really pulled their act back together. They must be getting something right because this year, for the first time ever, the company’s UK sales have topped 100,000 units, and their mid-sized cars have been doing exceptionally well.

They are calling it a compact four-door coupé but I’d describe it simply as a hatchback that compliments the existing C-Class saloon and estate car models. Whatever, the innovative CLA balances fresh style with practicality.

Despite its alluringly sporty lines, the CLA is capable of carrying five people in comfort and even has a generous and practical boot.

The CLA range in the UK is split into Sport and AMG Sport model line, paired with a choice of two efficient and refined engines – a 1595cc petrol unit and a 2,143cc diesel – and a choice of two suspension configurations.

The CLA is claimed to be the most aerodynamically-efficient car on-sale today – allowing the choice of four-cylinder petrol or diesel engines to deliver the highest possible economy whilst retaining the levels of refinement and performance expected of a Mercedes-Benz. My diesel test vehicle was smooth and quiet running and, unlike the Jeremy Clarksons of this world, I really like the finger tip column mounted gear control though I was not so enamoured with the electric parking brake whose on/off switch is hidden away under the dash and beyond a comfortable arm’s reach.

Performance is impressive, with the powerful CLA 220 CDI capable of accelerating from rest to 62 mph in 8.2-seconds yet capable of returning 62.9 mpg.

Both model lines offer a commendably comprehensive list of standard equipment, taking full advantage of the latest advances in comfort, safety and dynamic technologies, and, at prices ranging from £24,355 to £31,555, are good value for money too.

A week with the car just wasn’t enough – it’s one I would truly love to keep.

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