Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Similar cockpit to A-Class hatchback
  • Simple design and quality materials
  • Intuitive media controls, including voice

Like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback, the CLA’s interior features the same sweeping, cowl-free dashboard with its twin-screen digital set-up. There are two options here, either a 7.0-inch driver’s screen and 10.25-inch main display, or two 10.25-inch displays arranged in an attractive widescreen format.

There’s a full-width trim piece that separates the upper and lower dash, running from door to door, that can be personalised with wood, carbon effect or imitation leather, and lit with a number of different LED lighting options.

Below this are three air vents set into shiny black plastic, surrounded by a swathe of squashy material, and finally a bank of physical buttons (rejoice!) for the climate control. The centre console features the touchpad control for the media system, two cupholders and an oddments tray with two type C USB ports - wireless charging is optional.

Intuitive controls

As well as the main touchpad control and touchscreen media unit, you can also navigate the CLA’s various menus using two thumbpads on the wheel, in a design taken from the S-Class limo.

You can also use the innovative ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice control to take care of various functions, such as setting up the sat-nav or climate control. It also works like a personal concierge, enabling users to ask the car to find a restaurant for the evening or check on the afternoon’s football scores.

Another clever feature is the ability to control various functions with gestures, such as holding up two fingers to the screen to access the favourites menu, or waving your hand near the rear view mirror to operate the interior light. The system can also tell the difference between the driver and passenger, meaning the correct seat massage options are presented without the need to specify which seat you’re sitting in, for example.

Is it comfortable?

  • Luxury levels befitting a mini-CLS
  • Loads of tech to relax you
  • Good ride on optional dampers

Given the styling similarities between this car and the larger Mercedes-Benz CLS, you’d expect the CLA to offer a more luxurious setting than the workaday A-Class hatch it is based upon.

And on the whole you would be correct – that standard multi-link rear axle boosts comfort and refinement while the sculpted seats can be specified with climate controls and a massage function.

There’s also a clever Energizing system, which can pick an interior lighting scheme and seat kinetics to suit your mood, even scanning your music to find something with the optimum BPM to either relax or invigorate.

Even more space-age is the fact that you can pair your smart watch with the car, allowing the Energizing Coach to assess your stress levels or the amount of sleep you got last night, to set up the interior ambiance of the car for you.

Quiet cabin too

The CLA is a comfortable and hushed car to drive thanks to its slippery aerodynamics, which means there’s barely a whisper of wind noise in the cabin.

Petrol engines are quiet in operation although the 1.3-litre units get a little vocal at higher rpm, while the diesels curiously enough sound a bit more refined on the move.

It’s tricky to properly assess the ride given the fact we only sampled cars with the optional adaptive suspension on smooth German roads, but after finding some broken tarmac and driving over it at considerable speed, we can report back that the CLA rides quite nicely indeed.