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USED GUIDE: 2014+ Mercedes CLA 250 performance gets good rating


Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 - Justin Pritchard
Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 - Justin Pritchard
  • Model: 2014+ Mercedes CLA-Class
  • Vehicle type: Luxury

Description: The highly attainable, entry-level Mercedes CLA launched for model-year 2014 on our continent, coming to market as a compact, front-drive, entry-level model for shoppers, and an entry to the brand. With unique looks, a dynamic cabin design, a solid driving character and standard turbocharged power, it also packed in features fitting of a world-class luxury ride.

Look for push-button ignition, remote starter, advanced hazard-detection systems, automatic wipers, multi-zone climate control, a premium stereo, performance lighting, a sunroof, powered seats, and paddle shifters.

A two-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder powered all models, with output rated at 210 horsepower and a very punchy 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Standard front-drive or 4Matic all wheel drive models were available, and all ran a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with smooth, fast automatic shifting.

What owners like

Owners say they most appreciate a feel of high-end luxury and good feature content bang-for-the-buck in the Mercedes CLA 250. Performance is rated well, as is fuel economy. Potent brakes and generally-low noise levels at higher speeds helped round out the package. By and large, owners say that the CLA effectively serves up affordable access to a big-dollar motoring experience.

What owners dislike

Common complaints include a ride that may be too jarring on some surfaces, particularly in models with larger wheels. Tight rear-seat headroom for taller occupants is also noted, as is some fussiness to the seat adjustment controls.

The test drive

Check ride comfort levels of the CLA you’re considering by driving down the roughest road possible on your test drive, examining ride quality. Shoppers set on a CLA may want to consider a model with smaller wheels and thicker tires if they find the ride unsatisfactory.

Focus on the operation of the CLA’s transmission on your test drive, while driving with light, medium, and heavy throttle inputs. Watch for jerky shifting, slamming, clunking, or any difficulty responding with a downshift to throttle inputs. Ensure that the gear you select engages instantly, with no hesitation or flashing on the on-screen gear selector display. If detected, any transmission-related issues can likely be addressed via a software reflash of the transmission’s computer brain by a dealer technician.

Check the servicing schedule in the owner’s manual, determining where the model sits in relation to transmission fluid changes and other transmission servicing. Where possible, obtain service records to prove that no transmission-related maintenance intervals have been stretched (or skipped) for minimized likelihood of problems.

Numerous owners have reported unwanted vibrations as the CLA decelerates to a stop. Have any issues like this investigated by a technician if noted. The result may be unevenly worn brakes, or some need for servicing or updating of the transmission’s software.

Mechanically-inclined shoppers can pull the plastic engine cover from the CLA by gripping it from both sides and pulling straight up while wiggling slightly. With the cover off, signs of any oil seepage, particularly around turbocharger system plumbing, will be visible. The likely cause, if detected, is a worn-out turbocharger intake seal, which isn’t a massive job to replace, but will require attention.

A check engine light (CEL) may illuminate for dozens of possible reasons. If you see one, have a technician complete a diagnostic scan to find out why it’s there. A CEL is an invitation to have the vehicle scanned by a professional to reveal the underlying problem, though this scan should be completed whether or not a CEL is visible, for maximum confidence.

Unwanted noise from the glass roof may be the result of a bad seal or poorly-adjusted roof mechanism. The unwanted sounds may come and go in different conditions, possibly depending on temperature or speed. Some attention to the roof panels, or even the software that controls the sunroof, may be required to fix this problem, if detected. A dealer technician is the best person for the job.

Have the battery and charging system inspected and tested for proper condition, and replace the battery without hesitation if test results are unsatisfactory. Battery replacement should “only” be completed by a dealer technician to prevent issues, and trickle charging your CLA when you won’t be driving it for more than a few days is a great idea, too. A healthy battery can fend off a multitude of electronics-related problems that can be random, and difficult to diagnose.

The verdict

Those set on a used CLA are advised to arrange a full mechanical and electronic assessment by a technician, before their purchase, for reduced likelihood of problems and issues. The CLA is also a good candidate for extended warranty, especially if that warranty provides coverage of the vehicle’s advanced electronic systems. Buying a CLA privately without a full inspection is not advised, though a healthy used model with a thumbs-up from a dealer technician can be bought with relative confidence.

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