Mercedes CLA review - Practicality, comfort and boot space
The CLA Coupe is a little more compromised than its hatchback and Saloon siblings; choose the Shooting Brake if you need space
The Mercedes CLA is car created with style in mind rather than outright practicality – whether you choose Coupe or Shooting Brake body styles, don’t expect the last word in interior space.
Each model is a five seater, but only just – a heavily sculpted rear bench means the middle seat is only suitable for shorter journeys, while head and legroom is tight.
it’s easy for the driver to get comfortable thanks to comfortable, adjustable seats and plenty of adjustment for the steering wheel. Visibility isn’t as good as in the standard A-Class, however – the C-pillar is particularly thick so there are substantial over-the-shoulder blind spots to contend with. Opting for a full suite of active safety kit should counter this, however.
Interior storage is much the same as the A-Class hatch – a good-sized central cubby under the armrest and decent-sized door bins. Two cupholders are located ahead of the car’s infotainment controls.
The Mercedes CLA Coupe measures in at 4,695mm long, 1,999mm wide (including mirrors) and 1,430mm tall. The Shooting Brake estate version is more or less the same size, save for a few extra millimetres in height. For comparison, the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is slightly longer at 4,526mm and wider at 2,081mm including mirrors, while total height is a little lower as standard at 1,420mm. All AMG versions have a marginally wider track, while the Premium Plus variants ride lower with springs shortened by 15mm.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
The CLA is a car that has been designed around its driver; there’s not as much space in the back seats as you’ll find in the hatchback. Legroom is tight for six-foot adults, while headroom is compromised by the sloping roofline on either model. If you need to carry passengers and don’t mind sacrificing a few degrees of driver involvement, the A-Class Saloon or hatchback are better bets.
Car group tests
- New Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2020 review
- New Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Shooting Brake 2020 review
- New Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 2020 review
- New 2019 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S review
- New Mercedes CLA 250 AMG Line 2019 review
Used car tests
ISOfix points are supplied in the two outer rear seats, but loading child seats won’t be the easiest task thanks to the swooping roofline.
The CLA Coupe’s boot measures in at 460 litres and so is larger than you’ll find in the hatchback, although due to packaging issues the 250 e plug-in hybrid version has a smaller load space at 390 litres.
A narrower opening means it’s not as easy to load heavy items, but all CLAs come as standard with a 40/20/40 split-fold rear bench, so there’s a modicum of flexibility here. The 2 Series Gran Coupe’s boot measures trails slightly at 430 litres.
The Shooting Brake gets a larger 505-litre boot, which extends to a total of 1,370 litres with the rear seats folded. It’s the more flexible choice if you regularly need to carry bigger items. However, the hot AMG 35 and 45 S models have a reduced load capacity of 960 litres with the back seats down.
The Mercedes CLA may not be the first car you’d consider towing with, but it’s rated to a decent standard nonetheless. Each engine and bodystyle combination has its own quoted braked and unbraked figures, but the best choice for towing is the CLA 220d in either Coupe or Shooting Brake form – each manage trailers of up to 750kg unbraked or 1,600kg braked. If you prefer petrol power, the CLA 220 4MATIC Coupe is rated to 750kg unbraked or 1,800kg braked.
In this review
- 1Mercedes CLA reviewThe Mercedes CLA is the best-looking, best-driving version of the A-Class family – but outright practicality is sacrificed
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Mercedes CLA uses a wider track than the A-Class, but the differences to the car’s handling are marginal
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsA wide range of engines means there’s a balance of performance and economy to suit most buyers
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe latest Mercedes CLA sets a high benchmark for interior tech, fit and finish
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot space - currently readingThe CLA Coupe is a little more compromised than its hatchback and Saloon siblings; choose the Shooting Brake if you need space
- 6Reliability and SafetyReliability and safety are largely untested, but the CLA is packed with clever safety kit