CLA250 First Drive
From the June 2013 issue of Automobile Magazine:
What I find most disheartening about the "first drive" review is the theme I'm starting to see from the different journalists after they have driven it for the first time. Comments like, "The CLA250 will not be the enthusiast's first choice, but he or she shouldn't hesitate to recommend it to that friend who always has wanted, but couldn't afford, a Mercedes." and "With no sporting pretensions, the CLA is a relaxed, comfortable four-door coupe, a "baby CLS" with the drive wheels switched." Sure, they say some nice things about the car but those elements interest me least.
First of all, any car with the aggressive lines and body flares of the CLA, especially when equipped with the AMG-look sports package, has "sporting pretensions" in my book. Whether the car is capable of living up to those pretensions is a different issue. In this case it sounds like it doesn't, at least according to the folks at Automobile. They're also not the first media outlet to offer this line of sentiment towards the CLA.
Second of all, while I will reserve my own judgment until I've had a chance to actually sit in one and drive it, I don't fit the definition of a "non-enthusiast" who couldn't afford a Mercedes and always wanted one.
What lured me towards the CLA45 initially was its specs and looks. I'm in the market for an AWD sports sedan that I won't see myself coming and going in and offers something special. On paper, the CLA45 looks like that car. Based on the car's specs alone the only thing I was apprehensive about was/is its lack of a proper transmission. I can deal with the Haldex over other AWD systems. My MkI TT Quattro was equipped with a Haldex unit as is my current S60R and they were/are both incredible in the deep white stuff. I can even deal with the smaller backseat over some of the incrementally larger cars I was looking at: the 335xi and S4. If the M3 and C63 were available with AWD I would have considered them, too.. The S4 was the most appealing of the cars available in this segment to me...but it still lacked something intangible that I can't put my finger on. And, although I was ready to buy one it just didn't excite me the way I wanted it to.
Enter the CLA45. News of its reveal were enough to keep me from returning to the Audi dealer to put a deposit in an S4. I know the CLA45 will be different from the 250 but enough so that it will appeal to the enthusiasts among us? Will it just be another also ran to cars like the former M135i or the upcoming S3 and RS3? I'm far from giving up on it but this is the kind of news that keeps me from putting down a deposit today.