The Mercedes Benz CLA250 is a sporty 4-door coupe version of the Mercedes Benz A-Class and it rivals the likes of the Audi A3 limousine and the BMW 2-Series Grand Coupe. The CLA was first introduced for the 2012 model year and was replaced by a brand new model less than 2 years ago.
The CLA250 is the most popular version of this car which means that it is now a really popular car on the 2nd hand market. It’s safe to say that the 1st gen CLA is not the best Mercedes sedan ever made, but it can be a good purchase if you find one that has been kept in optimal condition and if you get it for a good deal.
The second generation of the CLA is much better as it offers a more luxurious experience throughout. It does not feel as cheap as the 1st generation model which struggled to keep up with its competitors. The first-gen CLA also isn’t the most reliable one while the current CLA seems to hold up much better.
The most common CLA250 problems are associated with the engine, the cooling system, the electricals, the equipment, and the build quality. All in all, if you want a CLA, the best course of action would be to swing for the current one, but if you go for the 1st gen CLA, try to find one at a slightly discounted price.
Mercedes Benz CLA250 engine issues
The 1st gen CLA250 gets a 2.0L turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine with 208hp which makes it fairly rapid considering the car’s size. The biggest issue with the 1st gen model is that the catalytic converter tends to clog itself up often which can cause all sorts of issues with the engine’s performance. The pre-safe system is also a known gripe with older CLA models because it slows the car down uncontrollably.
The current CLA 250 uses a similar engine with 221hp which makes it even more rapid. The engine is sometimes known to shut itself off during driving which can cause serious safety concerns. However, Mercedes did a recall to fix this issue so most CLA models on the streets are fixed by now.
Mercedes Benz CLA250 engine cooling issues
Engine cooling is also one of the most consistent issues with the first generation CLA250 because the coolant pump sometimes fails even before the car reaches any significant miles on the clock. Many owners state that issues such as these need to be a part of a recall, but Mercedes never commented on the issue.
The current CLA250 is much better and there are no major issues associated with the engine cooling. Either way, be sure to always top up the cooling fluid whenever necessary as you do not want to risk overheating your engine.
Mercedes Benz CLA 250 equipment issues
The 1st gen CLA250 suffers from several peculiar issues with the car’s equipment such as strange noises while operating the power sunroof and not having the ability to shut the trunk lid. A few owners even reported that the car tends to open the trunk lid all by itself from time to time while being parked. The sunroof shade is prone to ungluing and the sunroof mechanism itself is also known to fail.
The current CLA250 is far better, but many owners have complained about issues with the seats, more specifically, the seats being unable to lock themselves in place. The CLA is not the only model with seat-related issues because it seems that many modern-day Mercedes models also experience issues with the seats.
Mercedes Benz CLA 250 build quality issues
The first-generation CLA 250 is not the most luxurious Mercedes of all time, yet it is rather a relatively poor attempt at making a true luxury small sedan. The reality is that the car’s interior simply isn’t up to scratch when compared to the Audi A3 from its era. The exterior of the CLA is also prone to paint peeling and there are simply too many scratchy plastic trim pieces inside the interior that have no business being in a Mercedes.
The current CLA-Class is a lot better, but it also isn’t a champion when it comes to build quality. Sure, the design is cool thanks to futuristic air vents, two large widescreens, and ambient lighting, but the car is still lined with lots of cheap plastic. Granted, the new CLA is leagues above the 1st generation, but even still, it could be better.
Which Mercedes Benz CLA250 should I buy?
The second generation of the CLA 250 is a better car than the 1st gen model in every conceivable way. It looks better inside and out and it actually feels like a Mercedes behind the wheel. The design is class-leading, it gets all the tech you’d ever want, and it offers a lot more space when compared to the 1st gen CLA.
The 1st generation CLA simply can’t match the current CLA for anything. However, the values of these are still relatively strong which does not add up. The reason why is that many people love the design of the CLA and that many of them aren’t even aware of what a true Mercedes is supposed to feel like.
How long can a Mercedes CLA 250 last?
Mercedes may not be the reliability champion anymore, but no one can argue that their cars aren’t able to easily cross a few hundred thousand miles without needing major overhauls. However, this is only possible if you maintain the car as recommended by Mercedes.
The 1st generation CLA seems to be holding up decently, but the lack of build quality in the interior certainly shows 10 years after the car’s initial release. The 2nd generation of the CLA represents a substantial jump in quality, so there is no reason to think that it should not last as long as the 1st gen, or even more.
Is the Mercedes Benz CLA better than the Audi A3 Sedan?
The Mercedes Benz CLA and the Audi A3 Sedan are head-to-head competitors in the entry-level German luxury sedan market. The CLA is a sportier option while the A3 looks and feels more futuristic. The interior design of the CLA is much better but the A3 looks way better from the outside.
The A3 also offers a bit more space and it gets an amazing 5-cylinder engine for the RS3 top-of-the-line model which bests the CLA 45’s 4-cylinder 2.0L engine. These can trade punches forever, but if it was my money, I’d take the A3 over the CLA.