Mercedes CLA - Interior & comfort
The Mercedes CLA interior feels modern and connected, but removing physical controls was a backward step
Mercedes' latest interiors are setting the standards in almost every class, and the CLA certainly boasts an impressive cabin. Digital displays and a slick operating system mean interacting with the CLA feels more like using a smartphone than anything, except perhaps a Tesla. As we’ll explain below, we think this has perhaps been taken a step too far with the latest facelift.
It's convincingly upmarket too, with lots of plush materials and design flourishes like Mercedes' trademark turbine-style air vents that operate with a satisfying action. On the move, the CLA can jiggle slightly over bumps – particularly with large alloy wheels fitted – but it settles to a relaxed cruise on the motorway, where its slippery shape also helps keep wind noise at bay.
Mercedes CLA dashboard
While a plethora of new models are making the switch to digital instruments, no manufacturer has embraced the move as fully as Mercedes. Entirely ditching the traditional instrument binnacle and replacing it with a swathe of glass screens has given models like the CLA a contemporary look that rivals have swarmed to follow.
Infotainment is provided by a crystal clear 10.25-inch touchscreen, while another 10.25-inch display acts as a set of digital dials. However, we think the decision to remove the Comand controller from between the front seats is a negative one. Without it, you’ll need to reach forward to prod the touchscreen (which doesn’t always register every tap) or rely on voice commands. There’s also a new set of touch-sensitive steering wheel controls, but we found these tricky to use, and they can be activated accidentally as you manoeuvre the car.
Sport Executive trim is the lowest spec in the Mercedes CLA range, although this is only available with the 200 engine, making it slightly more expensive than the cheapest AMG-Line model with the less-powerful 180 engine. AMG-Line trim comes in three different specifications: Executive, Premium and Premium Plus.
AMG Line Executive adds items like keyless go, 64-colour ambient lighting, sports seats and a sports steering wheel, along with wireless charging for compatible devices. Premium gets 19-inch alloy wheels, augmented reality navigation, an improved stereo and Artico upholstery, while Premium Plus boosts the luxury feel with a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, memory seats, adaptive LED headlights and a 360-degree parking view.
There aren’t as many options as you might expect from Mercedes, but special paint finishes range from £600 to just over £1,800, while a £1,500 Driving Assistance Package adds a host of tech to make it safer to drive, from blind-spot warnings to steering assistance that helps keep the car in its lane or change lanes when the indicators are activated.