A few weeks ago I spent quite a few hours driving the new Mercedes CLA saloon. It was the Great British Weekend – Goodwood Festival of Speed on Saturday and Flying Legends at Duxford airfield on the Sunday. Goodwood is great, but for me it will never beat watching a fleet of Spitfires taking off…
Even though the CLA had the base 1.6-litre petrol turbo engine – and the sort of eco-restrained throttle response that makes the car feel underpowered – the CLA went surprising well when pushed and returned pretty decent economy over a blisteringly hot weekend. On poor roads the ride was unimpressive, but the CLA is an appealing package.
During the seven or so hours I spent at the wheel, something fundamental dawned on me. I was staring at the CLA’s instrument binnacle – with its flashy silver-edge binnacles, tablet-style screen and bank of controls on the centre console – for long periods. But for 95 per cent of the time I was looking at the speedo needle and the radio display.
Which made me question two things: why the important sections of the speedo (around 30mph and 70mph) cover such tiny arcs. And why the nice, big, radio display was off-centre.
The time I spent facing the CLA’s impressive cockpit, I couldn't help but think that it is time for the car industry to rip out the dashboard and start again from first principles.