2014 Mercedes CLA and 2014 E-Class Short Drive: Mercedes Roadshow
There are also other Mercedes vehicles here, but the two are the ones we'll be focusing on. We’re starting the day with a hefty dose of autocross driving. Many, many cones are waiting to be crushed. Well, my plastic friends, since a hefty part of the course was flooded on purpose, you won’t have to wait too long for that.
I set off in the Mercedes-Benz CLA and the goal seems simple: try to keep up with the instructor, who’s also driving a CLA. After a few laps, it becomes obvious that Frank must’ve been a Buddist monk before joining Mercedes. I know how hard I’m focusing to keep up with him, so his level of concentration must be off the scale.
Despite the Sport chassis, you can still feel the CLA struggling to find grip as soon as the cones force me to choose seriously tight lines. It’s easy to see that the engineers never intended the CLA to match its sporty looks with similar handling. Safety was the goal here. Note to self: get your hands on a 4Matic all-wheel drive version as soon as possible.
Time for the 2014 E-Class then. Between me and the road, sit a set of adaptive dampers (no air suspension today) which seem to be doing a good job at coping with the sudden direction changes I’m asking the car to perform.
Frank seems just as determined to make the most out of the E-Class and, as he probably planned, this allows me to push the car to its limits too. Gone is the struggle from the CLA. The sedan feels surprisingly at home through the hairpins and u-turns here, with a certain degree of roll being the only thing telling me that I’m exaggerating.
We’re supposed to head out on the open road now, return to the reality of everyday driving. However, before we exit the realm of autocross driving, Frank makes us all jealous. He grabs the keys to an C63 AMG I’ve had my eyes on ever since I came here and he starts drifting his way through the course. You covered up the entire place in smoke and you didn’t even hit one cone, I lost the bet!
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