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In-depth reviews

Mercedes CLA review - Interior, design and technology

The latest Mercedes CLA sets a high benchmark for interior tech, fit and finish

The Mercedes CLA aims to offer the sleek styling and coupe roofline of the larger CLS, but in a smaller and more affordable package. It certainly looks the part; those sweeping lines and pert rear end give it a level of road presence missing on rivals like the Audi A3 Saloon and even Merc’s very own A-Class models.

Available only in AMG Line trim (plus the flashier AMG Line Premium and AMG Line Premium Plus specs), the CLA comes loaded with all the kit buyer of cars like this desire. Be that a smart but subtle body kit, large alloy wheels or high-end paint finishes, the four-door coupe cuts a dashing silhouette.

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Inside, the CLA sets an alarmingly high benchmark that other makers will be hurriedly trying to match. Quality is very good, while the fully digital dashboard – first seen on the A-Class hatch – elevates the CLA above many cars in the class above. Every car gets the large central screen, but you’ll need to upgrade if you want the wider dials; these aren’t essential, but they do give the CLA a real edge in this class.

Every version gets a DAB radio, sat-nav, wireless charging and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. Merc’s ‘Hey Mercedes’ virtual assistant is included, though in our experience this isn’t the most useful or innovative system of its type.

Both the CLA 35 and 45 S models receive the typical AMG bodystyling additions, along with extra chrome exterior trim and subtle badging.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

Every Mercedes CLA features Merc’s MBUX infotainment system, complete with ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice assistant. Some customers may find this tech useful – you can change things like the radio station and the temperature for the climate control – but in reality it doesn’t work all that well. If you’re used to services like Amazon Alexa, you’ll find Merc’s set-up a challenge to use.

While sat-nav is included, you’ll need to pay extra (by opting for the AMG Line Premium trim) to get Merc’s excellent ‘augmented reality’ mapping, which lays arrows and directions over images taken from the car’s external cameras. It works wonderfully and can prove really handy on busy city streets.

AMG Line Premium also adds the larger 10.25-inch digital dials and an upgraded stereo system. Going for this spec also upgrades the ambient lighting system.

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