The CLA 220d will be the big seller. Its 2.1-litre engine is flexible and punchy until the rev needle passes the 4000rpm mark. It records an adequate 8.2sec 0-62mph time and a 143mph top speed.
Its punchy nature makes short work of overtaking, aided by its standard smooth-shifting 7G-DGT seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with software derived from the SLS AMG supercar. The engine's gratifyingly economical too; Mercedes claims 62.8mpg on the combined cycle with emissions rated at 117g/km.
The 2.1-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel seems a little better isolated than it is in the equivalent A-Class, but it’s also considerably more clattery than that which powers, say, a four-cylinder diesel Jaguar XF or even a Volkswagen Golf GTD – both available at a similar price point and with similar specific outputs.
The CLA 180 is powered by a 120bhp engine developed in partnership with Renault, and offers a slightly less than impressive 9.2sec 0-62mph time. Official figures rate the CLA 180 at 50.4mpg combined with 126g/km of CO2.
The hotter CLA 250 is the fastest model in the standard range. It records a 6.7sec 0-62mph time, but never really feels as quick. The engine lacks the rorty soundtrack expected of the hotter models in Mercedes' more attractive model line-ups.