5 thoughts about the 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 4Matic

The Mercedes-Benz CLA’s style no longer stands out as it once did. Once Mercedes designers started making the core of the brand’s lineup (C-, E- and S-Class) look more like the CLS, it became harder for the sleek, coupe-like four-door’s little brother to make a lasting impression. That’s OK. If anything the CLA is more Mercedes than ever, and it’s deeper than just design. With updated styling, more standard equipment and a new mild-hybrid powertrain, the 2024 edition sees the most significant upgrades since the CLA’s latest generation launched for 2020. I spent a week rolling around the suburbs in this hyper blue Benz CLA 250 4Matic, and thanks to its brilliant color, I maintained a modest level of celebrity status.

1. OK, let’s talk about the color

I know, I know — it’s superficial to lead off with a car’s color. Hyper blue is new for the 2024 model year, and this turquoise/teal shade gives this car a presence. I noticed a guy snapping pictures of it in my driveway, and it turned heads at school drop off. It’s like a Miami Vice shade that’s fairly uncommon in the car business, and it pierced the late winter gloom. Doing a little mind reading, I’d guess that most people who saw this CLA 250 had no idea it’s the entry-level Mercedes sedan (the A-Class was discontinued). 

2024 Mercedes CLA 250 4Matic

2. It’s not cheap

I remember when the CLA was pitched as the gateway to Mercedes with a starting sticker just below $30,000. It wasn’t just less expensive than the C-Class, it was meant to bring in a new customer to Mercedes who could grow with the brand.

After the short-lived run of the A-Class in America, the CLA is again the gateway, but now it’s $43,200 for the front-wheel-drive version, and this 250 4Matic starts at $45,200. The options, including multibeam LED headlights, the Premium Package, the Winter Package, heated seats and Burmester surround sound lift the price to $54,380, including destination. It feels like an authentic Mercedes with a price to match.

3. But it’s worth it because …

The interior is gorgeous. This one is furnished in macchiato beige with aluminum trim accents. Mercedes has spent the past decade riffing on nautical vibes, and the three circular vents in the middle set in gloss black trim create an old-school speedboat vibe. I selected purple ambient lighting to mix things up. The 10.25-inch customizable instrument panel is clear and colorful. I preferred to leave it in the basic speedometer and tachometer configuration. There’s another 10.25-inch touchscreen in the middle that houses the infotainment system. With the latest MBUX generation added for 2024, the system is relatively easy to use, but I still miss Mercedes’ old rotary console controller that allowed the driver to flip through things easier. In general, I feel like this is the right balance of screens vs. buttons. Watch my interior review below and judge for yourself.

4. The spunky powertrain has some character

It’d been a minute since I’d driven the CLA, so nevermind the mild-hybridization added for 2024, this generation’s eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission was also new to me. The previous CLA had an unloved seven-speed DCT. New for ’24, Mercedes added a 48-volt belt-driven hybrid system that provides 13 more horsepower earlier in the band (5,500 rpm vs. 5,800 rpm) to support acceleration, though the engine’s ratings remain unchanged. With the power going to all four wheels via 4Matic, the 250 is fun enough to drive. With a front-wheel-based chassis and just 221 hp, it’s not much of a pocket rocket, though the 258 pound-feet help you sprint to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. For about $2,000 more than this 250 4Matic, you can get the CLA 35 AMG with a different 2.0-liter turbo-four boosted to 302 hp. You can also get a basic C 300 with 4Matic for about $50,000. I’d do that.

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake

5. As does the design, but Mercedes should go further with a shooting brake

When the CLA first arrived back in 2013 with its swoopy silhouette and concave styling elements, it was clear Mercedes was willing to take risks. It was a baby CLS. Times have changed, but the CLA remains a style marker. While this four-door has a presence, I think the well-received shooting brake sold in other markets would be a smart addition to the line. An auto writer likes a German station wagon? Stop the presses. But hear me out. 

The next-gen CLA is expected to go electric, as previewed by the Concept CLA Class shown last fall in Munich, and the modular platform accommodates sedan, crossover and wagon variants. Americans tend to prefer crossovers to sedans. Why not meet in the middle with an electric wagon?

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