The CLA is the kind of car that can send you to unfathomable depths of confusion if you think too hard about what it is and where it fits into the market.
It’s a 4.6m-long saloon that shares its platform with a duo of smaller, cheaper hatchbacks (the A and B-Class) but which is priced like a BMW 3 Series and looks more than anything like a shrunken homage to a £50,000 four-door coupé.
But forget all that for now. The most important question to address is simply “Do I like it?”, because this is Mercedes’ attempt to drop a super-desirable fashion car into the heart of the notoriously straight-laced business market.
As such, the CLA has the same relationship to an Audi A4 that a Fiat 500 has to a Ford Fiesta, or that a Range Rover Evoque has to a BMW X3. Here, Stuttgart is banking on what the industry calls ‘emotional’ appeal, rather than rational appeal, and enough of it to compensate for one or two evident shortcomings, which we’ll come to.
So, if you’re not considerably more taken with the way this car looks than you are with your average £30k executive four-door, the firm has missed the mark.