Mercedes CLC-Class hatchback (2008-2012)
"The badge and equipment levels make the Mercedes-Benz CLC look very appealing, but rivals do the same more cheaply."
- Upmarket image
- Good resale values
- Generous equipment levels
- Little different from the previous model
- Petrol engines feel underpowered
- Expensive to buy and insure
The Mercedes-Benz CLC offers a lot for the money, but that doesn't mean it's great value, as competitively priced rivals like the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series are more accomplished. The CLC's standard equipment is impressive though and on the move it's comfortable and quiet. Cabin space is reasonable and the Mercedes-Benz badge on the bonnet is a big draw for many buyers. Mercedes-Benz expects the CLC to appeal to younger buyers and it hopes that they will trade up to a larger model when the time comes.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The 1.6-litre petrol engines have reasonable running costs with 42.8mpg and 154g/km. The 1.8 CLC 180 Kompressor is little different with 41.5mpg and 175g/km, but annual Road Tax is marginally more at £180. The CLC 200 and CLC 220 CDI diesel engines are inexpensive to run with 50.4mpg and 169g/km and 49.6mpg and 151g/km respectively. Insurance groups range from 29 to 36, which is quite high.
Engines, drive & performance
There are five engines to choose from - three petrol and two diesel. The 1.8-litre petrol engine in the CLC 160 feels quite short of power next to the punchy 1.8-litre versions in the CLC 180 and CLC 200 Kompressor models. The 2.1-litre CLC 200 and 220 CDI diesel engines are the best bet, as they offer 120bhp and 148bhp respectively, so they have plenty of power but with affordable running costs. The CLC is set up for comfort rather than sporty handling.
The steering isn't as accurate as that of rivals like the BMW 1 Series and grip is limited. Sport models improve things a little with more responsive steering, so that trim is worth going for.
Interior & comfort
Wind and road noise are hushed, so the Mercedes-Benz is a very quiet place to be. The ride is also very comfortable as bumps and potholes are soaked up very well indeed. However, the diesels are unusually loud for a prestige car like the CLC.
Practicality & boot space
The CLC is offered as a three-door only, so practicality is limited. The 310-litre boot isn't bad for a coupe and you can fold the rear seats flat to create a surprisingly big 1,100-litre loading space. Leg and headroom in the rear is pretty good when you consider that it's a low-slung three-door car. Access to the rear is easy enough, as the front seats slide and tip forward. There's plenty of storage in the centre console and the luggage net in the footwell is handy.
Reliability & safety
The Mercedes-Benz CLC hasn't been crash tested by Euro NCAP, but it's a reasonable assumption that it's a safe car. Six airbags, traction control, electronic stability control and Isofix child seat mountings are standard. Build quality isn't up to Mercedes' usual standards and the CLC's interior seems a little cheap in comparison to other cars made by the company. Mercedes-Benz finished fourth overall in the 2010 JD Power Satisfaction survey, which is impressive.
Price, value for money & options
All models - even the basic SE - are well equipped and feature 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlamps, a multi-function steering wheel, climate control, electric windows and electric mirrors. Sport trim adds leather seats, 18-inch alloy wheels and styling tweaks inside and out. Resale values are quite strong, but the downside is the list price, which is quite high on all models – the CLC's main rivals cost less.