2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Sport – First Drive


The all-new entry-level Mercedes CLA sedan could be regarded as the spiritual successor for the legendary 190E from 1983. And when it reaches showrooms later this coming year, it will be the very first front-wheel drive Mercedes to ever be sold in the US.

Depending on the European A-Class hatchback platform, the CLA will also arrive with a world record. Putting a trunk about thethis can be for the CLA180 Blue Efficiency – an economy model sold only in Europe – although the .23 Cd of the CLA250 Sport that can be sold is still ground-breaking, beating the .25 Cd of the Toyota Prius.

Just like all hatchbacks converted into sedans, the styling is awkward but still successful. They have an angular front-end, with all the aggressive grille seemingly at odds using the elegant rear-end.

In practical terms, the generous trunk volume of 12.4cuft is nearly identical to the C-Class sedan, while the split rear seats give you a good amount of versatility.

The front side cabin is identical to the A-Class, with the adjustable driver’s seat and steering wheel which makes it easy to find a cushy position. Rear passenger space is again more generous than you’d expect, given its swooping roofline that hints on the CLS, yet a 6’1 frame fits easily.

Inevitably, the CLA is less capacious compared to the C-Class, though it’s actually 1.5 fractionally and longer wider: the 2.4 shorter wheelbase and lower roofline having fun withthrough the largest and strongest of the three turbocharged, four-cylinder direct injection motors in the Mercedes M270 engine family. Unlike European buyers, who will get a plethora or gasoline and diesel engines, US buyers only get the CLA250 Sport.

Using the turbo boosting at 14.5psi, the motor makes 208bhp at 5500rpm, having a generous 258 lb-ft of torque at 1200-4000rpm. A brief over-boost facility provides an additional 15 and 13hp lb-ft when kick-down is summoned for overtaking.

The US version is only going to come with the 7G-Tronic dual-clutch seven-speed auto, with paddle shifters. The system functions well but had some software issues in Sport and Manual modes in comparison to the equivalent from Audi or BMW. The outcomewill be dynamic and young, we were told MBUSA has biased its suspension towards sporty. Having driven both the sport and comfort models on 18 wheels, they might want to reconsider this, with all the lower, stiffer suspension making the car restless on bumpy roads. Although we can probably assume it will probably be re-tuned for American tastes.

With a base sticker price expected to be $29900 (plus 925 D&D) for the FWD model, the CLA250 should offer good value for any car with this level of brand equity, versatility and dynamic ability. We can’t wait to see the way it shakes the compact car market when it arrives in September, with theexplained by the car company as “The most important Jaguar in the last fifty years.” So, no pressure at all…

To sample the new sports vehicle in the best possible surroundings, free of the vagaries of winter weather, we were sent to the Navarra region of Spain to explore the 3 F-Type variants in the land of bull-running and Jambón.

The goal using this sultry drop-top is clear: lure buyers from the German establishment and return Jaguar to its sporting heritage. To get blunt, Jaguar has specifically focused on competitors like the mighty Porsche 911 and Audi R8.

From sex appeal to road track, presence and technology prowess, these aren’t necessarily the cars to overcome, but rather to fit. The question remains, may be the F-Type that car?

On first sight, you salivate in its presence. Your right foot twitches at the thought of mashing the throttle with an open stretch of Spanish tarmac using the top down. It’s this; the emotion the F-Type exudes – even when stationary – that can bring new buyers to your Jaguar showroom. And that’s exactly what they desire. Jaguar estimated 90% of buyers won’t be existing customers.

You’ve got three choices: the F-Type, F-Type S and F-Type V8 S. The base model turns into a 340hp 3.-liter supercharged V6 and is priced at $69895. Stepping into the F-Type S will give you a 40hp bump to 380 through the same motor, along with a price jump to $81895. And finally the V8 S sits atop the fleet with a 495hp 5.-liter supercharged V8 which willtimes of 5.1, 4.8 and 4.2sec respectively for the three models, and also incremental top speeds of 161, 186mph and 171.

In case the appearance and specification doesn’t tempt you, then Jaguar has priced each configuration 25% below the cost of the equivalent 911. Obviously Jaguar has a soft spot for Porsche, and we can’t blame them.

Driving around Pamplona, we weren’t expecting to be blown away on the country roads in the V6. The frequency of which does a base model make you grinning? However the supercharged V6 engine has great power, plenty of torque (332 lb-ft to be exact) and an exhaust note that delights you because of the Active Exhaust option on our test car.

The steering is 10% quicker than any Jag before it, and it’s noticeable. The entire body structure is also lighter and stiffer than any previous Jaguar, and the Adaptive Dynamics damping system we sampled inside the V6 S was more aggressive than before.

And although 340hp isn’t much by today’s standards, the F-Type’s eagerness is helped with the excellent eight-speed ZF transmission with what Jaguar calls Quickshift.

Don’t get your briefs in the bunch, there isn’t a manual offering. That doesn’t surprise us any more. And the number of F-Type buyers who’d opt for such a thing is undoubtedly small. However, Quickshift lives around its name, proving you don’t need a dual-clutch system to shift rapidly or smoothly. In either full auto or manual mode (we preferred the paddles to theis an additional sweet ride. The 3.-liter is sharply responsive due to the roots-style blower providing instant boost if you hit the gas. Bigger brakes were another welcome addition on this model.

In reality, the V6 S was an amazing package. On the Circuito de Navarra, flying on the main straight at 140mph was effortless; a dab of the stoppers set you up for a little right into a strict second-gear hairpin; the F-Type responding precisely to your commands. This car fits you like a Speedo.

The Jaguar engineering team continually emphasized the F-Type’s “Connected Feel.” It’s about “immediate, proportional and precise response to driver inputs.” And throwing the V6 S around the technical Navarra Circuit, their vision was undeniably evident.

The V6 S also gets a mechanical limited-slip diff. So, whether power-on or in transition, this is one Cat that’s happy to shake its tail, thanks in part to the 50/50 weight distribution.

This was the F-Type you can compare directly to the 911 Carrera. Without driving them together, the F-Type certainly holds its own, but is probably more of a road car by nature.

2014 jaguar f type v8 s quad tip exhaust

2014 jaguar f type v8 s front end

2014 jaguar f type v8 s side view top down

It’s not light, tipping the scales at 3521 lb for the V6 and 3671 lb for the V8 S, despite its aluminum construction. So while acceleration was awesome in each model, tossing that much weight around will never feel ideal when compared to the 3274 lb Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet PDK.

Yet Jaguar went to great lengths to produce a lightweight convertible, while seemingly sacrificing nothing in terms of overall structural rigidity or style. The fabric roof can be opened or closed at speeds up to 30mph, taking just 12sec in both direction.

Much like the XK and XJ, the F-Type has a bonded-and-riveted aluminum body and structure panels, although the trunk is composite.

The car houses 141 aluminum pressings, 18 high-pressure die-castings and 24 extrusions, saving roughly 77 lb spanning a comparable steel structure. Jaguar even made a new alloy called AC170 to form the wonderful clamshell hood. It’s pressed many times and can withstand more shaping and sharper angles than regular aluminum.

While the F-Type and F-Type S were impressive packages, we yearned for time with the V8 S. And whenever it happened, the chassis immediately felt up to the process of a 115hp boost through thefrom the 19 located on the V6 S, and an even larger brakes with 15 front rotors and 14.8 rears, this is actually the top dog.

Quad exhaust tips spit, burble and pop like a Le Mans car, and through the quiet streets of Pamplona we were tempted to hold first gear in the slow sections to scare the wake and birds the residents with what may be one of the most sensual but violent factory exhaust notes we’ve had the pleasure of hearing.

Through all the models, the interior remains consistently sophisticated yet simple. The seats were taken for the XKR-S and we’d recommend the power controls, but they’re supportive for every type of driving.

The central air vents rise when needed, keeping visibility ahead as clear as possible. Finally, Jaguar abandoned its rotary gear selection knob to opt for a more traditional lever that’s predictably simple to use.

While it’s undoubtedly a small car with a compact interior, the F-Type is a fine place to spend 30 laps or 300 miles.

The wonderful F-Type marks a truly exciting time to the British brand. Jaguar expects a 33% split between the three models but, as you might imagine, the V8 S gets our vote when it continues on sale this summer. There is also a great deal of personalization options when choosing a vehicle, allowing you to alter interior and exterior finishes and colors, etc. However, each model is well equipped as standard and all have got a premium feel, with the F-Type V6 not sacrificing anything compared to the V8 S, except in terms of mechanical ability. The business.