The Mercedes-Benz CLS showed the world that four doors could offer supercar levels of driveway appeal, and the Mercedes-Benz CLA has been developed to replicate that success. 

Mercedes-Benz has been extending its range for well over a decade, but the CLA represents another shift-step again. This time, it is to a range that has logically grown to include 4x4s and sports cars, and then downsized into front-wheel-drive hatchbacks.

The CLA is a curious thing: a front-wheel-drive saloon based on the platform used by the A-Class, itself a newly conventional hatchback rather than the mini-MPV that originally used the name.

If you’re looking for yet another reason why the A-Class became a straightforward small premium hatch rather than a revolutionary twin-floor packaging marvel, look no further than here.

The point, here, is to give a small, affordable (to a point) Mercedes-Benz the same kind of panache that you’d see higher up the Mercedes range, where conventional points in the line-up diverge with the addition of new model lines such as this. In spring 2016, Mercedes gave the CLA coupé and shooting brake a facelift, which was dominated by a diamond effect grille, revised interiors and tweaked powerplants.

Engine options consist of - a 1.6-litre petrol-powered CLA 180, a 2.0-litre unit used in the CLA 250 and CLA 45, while the diesel range consists of two tunes of the same 2.1-litre turbodiesel - powering the CLA 200 d  and the CLA 220 d.

The question is, though, can the CLA do for the A-Class what the CLS achieved for the E-Class? Or will this new model merely manage what the Vauxhall Belmont did for the Astra? Let's find out.

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

  • Volkswagen Golf

    Volkswagen Golf

    1
  • The popular Ford Focus in 1.5 TDCi Zetec form
    The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

    Ford Focus

    2
  • Seat Leon

    Seat Leon

    3
  • Mazda 3
    The SkyActiv platform used in the 3 features more high and ultra-high-strength steel, offering greater strength and less weight

    Mazda 3

    4
  • Peugeot 308

    Peugeot 308

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2017 Volkswagen e-Up review
    First Drive
    24 January 2017
    The VW e-Up is a compelling, if pricey, electric city car but it still requires owners to make some compromises
  • Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic
    First Drive
    24 January 2017
    Full-size Range Rover visits SVO to receive JLR's full-fat 542bhp V8 plus chassis revisions, and the result is nothing short of extraordinary
  • 2017 Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi 180 ST-Line Powershift AWD
    First Drive
    23 January 2017
    A UK drive of the new Ford Kuga proves the latest updates and a new ST-Line trim broaden its appeal, but don't quash the challenge of newer rivals
  • 2017 Tesla Model S P100D
    First Drive
    23 January 2017
    The additional driving range is welcome, but the range-topping Model S's increase in performance is overkill, even if it is very entertaining
  • 2017 Mitsubishi ASX 2.2 DOHC Auto AWD 5 review
    First Drive
    23 January 2017
    Mitsubishi's small SUV is no-nonsense and functional, but still trails its rivals in most areas and this range-topping version looks expensive