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. 

Engine options consist of the 1.6-litre petrol-powered CLA180 and the 2.1-litre turbodiesel CLA220 CDI. A lower-power CLA200 CDI will join the range later, alongside a CLA250 and four-wheel-drive CLA250 4Matic. Performance fans will be most interested in the CLA45 AMG sports saloon, covered in its own review here.

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.

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