The second-generation CLA got off to a much more promising start on these pages than its predecessor managed. It looks the part, has an impressively upmarket and high-tech interior and sprang from a willingness to give keener drivers the appealingly energetic and engaging compact Mercedes sport saloon they’ve been denied for decades – a willingness we would applaud wholeheartedly.

Regrettably, having done enough to impress us with a differently engined version on foreign soil some months ago, the CLA that ought to typify the car’s sporting credentials – the punchy 250 petrol version – doesn’t quite cut the mustard on UK roads. Its performance is strong and its real-world efficiency likewise; but its engine, gearbox and ride are all surprisingly raucous in too many of the wrong ways and its handling, although good at times, is hardly the dynamic calling card it might have been.

Nearer the mark to look at, but still way wide of it as a driver’s car

A pricing strategy that will look ambitious to some and practicality with as many weaknesses as strengths round off a picture that’s convincing in parts but equally disappointing in others.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - Mercedes-Benz CLA