2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic Review - Pay $2200, Add All-Wheel-Drive

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic interior
If it looks like a Benz and goes like a Benz, it’s probably a Benz.

And if it’s missing some of the trademark Benz-like qualities you noticed in your friend’s well-off uncle’s W124 300E in the late 80s, it’s still a Benz.

So much a Benz, in fact, that numerous neighbours refused to believe that the bright red CLA250 4Matic that visited GoodCarBadCar in mid-August was Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level sedan. (None of those neighbours visited the inside of the car.)

• Style statement

• 258 lb-ft of torque
• Agile up to a point
• Roomy enough interior
• Fuel efficient
• Some chintzy bits
• As-tested price rises quickly
• Small rear doors
• Inconsistent ride quality
• DCT struggles

When told that it’s a lesser car than the CLS or E or S or even C, those neighbours warm to a notion created over time, both by marketing and in their own aspirational minds, which says they could have all that inherent Mercedes-Benz goodness with an affordable price tag.

It sounds so easy: big brand, little car, the loss of some frivolous luxuries, the removal of a few horsepower, and a deep discount.

It’s not so easy. 

2013 Tesla Model S P85 Performance Review - Not A Very Range-Limited Car On A Range-Limited Island

2013 Tesla Model S P85 interior
It’s difficult for any test drive of a Tesla Model S to result in a review that doesn’t become an analysis of the company’s business model, an attempt to justify the cost of the car because of the fuel savings, or a simulated comparison test with a Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

But what if the Tesla was just a car made by any other conventional automaker? What if we stopped thinking of its electric propulsion system as a sacrifice, or ignored its unique means of generating thrust? And what if we recognized that, because of the company’s desire to operate unconventionally and because it’s plugged in and not fuelled up, no such comparison test can be validated?

• It looks so good

• It goes so fast
• It handles so well
• It's huge inside
• It ignores gas stations
• Wind noise
• Some quality concerns
• Almost too capable
• Lots of other cool stuff at $100K+
• Superchargers are rare in Canada

My friend, who we’ll call Rob, recently acquired this black Model S P85. He isn’t a wealthy environmentalist; he is a true gearhead. Last time I saw him he was driving a previous-gen Nissan Pathfinder, having for years shuffled through performance cars before discovering married life with children. He wasn’t cross-shopping the Model S with an S-Class or a Panamera or a Jaguar XJ or really anything at all. He wanted this car, and not just with a little bit of desire.

Thankfully, he also wanted me to drive it.

Small And Midsize Luxury SUV Sales In Canada - July 2014 YTD

Canada luxury SUV sales chart July 2014
Big boosts from the BMW X1 and X3, plus a substantial increase from the Audi Q5, Canada's top-selling premium brand utility vehicle, led the smaller luxury crossover category to 30% gains in July 2014.

Canada Auto Sales Brand Rankings - July 2014 YTD
Canada Vehicle Sales Rankings By Model - July 2014 YTD
• Canada SUV Sales Rankings By Model - July 2014 YTD

Canada luxury SUV sales chart July 2014
Click Chart To Expand
The Q5, X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and Porsche Macan owned 54.4% of the category, down from 58.2% a year ago. 

Among their larger brethren, sales did not rise as quickly in July due to losses at Infiniti (QX60 down 17%), Acura (MDX down 17%), and Volvo, where only 69 XC70s and XC90s were sold in total. 

Land Rover Range Rover Sport volume more than doubled in July. Lexus RX sales slid 2% to 649 units, a July best for premium brand utility vehicles.