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Mercedes-Benz CLA 180

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Text and photos by Eric Tipan

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After years of hustling for zero-talent bosses, this young generation referred to as ‘millennials’ — born between early 80’s to mid-2000s — are now fast becoming ‘alphas’ at the work place.

As the new ‘pack leaders’, you aim to set yourself apart from the ‘hoi polloi’ so to speak, right? While the younger Gen Z judges based on what shoes you wear, your new unit of measurement is the type of car one drives.

When it comes to luxury and class, there are a dizzying array of choices out there but one that stands out more than any other, and that’s Mercedes-Benz.

If you’re just getting into the brand, allow me to start you off on Benz 101 with the entry-level CLAss 180.

Fastback coupe exterior

Very few rival the CLA 180 when it comes to body styling so standing out will not be a problem. Moving 100,000 units in just its first 12 months as a fastback coupe concept in 2012 gave this model the distinction of having the marque’s ‘best launch in 20 years’.

Its contemporary interpretation of the diamond radiator grille is absolutely stunning in Cirrus White and it seems to stretch along the hood using prominent lines that create a convex-concave play noticeable on the vehicle’s entire surface.mercedes_1

The coupe part of its DNA gives it frameless windows, which is a trip every time because it cracks open ever so slightly when you open the door just so your ears don’t feel the pressure of the sealed cabin when you close the door.

Sleek profile, the highly sculptured exterior plus considerable underbody paneling allows it to have the lowest coefficient of drag ever by a production vehicle in the world at 0.23 Cd.

Highlighting the rear are dual tailpipes and lamps that use an artsy arrow-style arrangement.

Luxurious interior

Taking the entire page from the A-Class, the interior comes with high-quality materials — a combination of leather and hard plastics — framed in a uniform silver finish with either a circular or rectangular form.MERCEDES_3

There are five round air vents in front, three in the middle and two bigger ones on each side, with four-pronged stars that mimic the logo on the steering wheel.

I may not be anywhere near six feet tall but I appreciated extendable thigh support that came with the electronically adjustable six-way driver sport seat.

It has an eight-inch screen controlled by a rotary knob in front of the center console. Navigation is possible but data has to be preloaded in an SD card.

Pair your smartphone via Bluetooth to stream your music library but you can still go old school with the built-in CD player, if you still haven’t ripped all of the songs into MP3 by now.

Prep performance

As the ‘starter’ model, it comes with the smallest engine in the lineup – a 1.6L turbocharged engine that churns out 122 PS and 200 Nm of torque. It’s not really enough to satisfy your wildest fantasies in a Benz but enough to get your juices flowing should wish to extricate yourself from the slow pack of subcompact sedans on EDSA.

Four drive options are available, Comfort, Sport, Eco with the fourth being driver-selected settings.

Don’t bother with Eco unless you’re pinching pennies because this setting strips away all the fun by retarding driver input and muting vehicle response, all for the sake of higher fuel efficiency (who needs that in a Benz, really). Sport gives instantaneous driver feedback, which allows you to make snappy maneuvers but it tends to stay at higher revs (between 2.5k to 3.5k) just a tad too long, making it feel like you’re taxing the engine too much.

Comfort is a good mix of efficiency and response, which positively affected the ride demeanor allowing it to offer a Benz-sized dose of coziness. I stayed here a lot during the test and I’m assuming you will too.

The seven-speed automatic transmission isn’t as smooth and as quick to shift as what is expected from dual clutch setups. It felt rough at times and it gets more amplified in Sport mode.

Intro to CLAss

With a price of P2.8 million, it undercuts the C180 and positions itself as the introductory model for people upgrading to the three-pointed star.

It’s also perfectly suited for drivers/owners just getting the hang of handling turbocharged engines. Cornering comes easy with little to no body roll due to its sexy, low profile.The cabin comes with comfort and amenities that can live up to its heritage.mercedes_2

Fuel consumption is a measly 5.3 kilometers per liter so prepare a big budget for gas if it’s going to be your daily beater.As the new ‘big cheese’ in the office, your sense of entitlement is now totally justified.

If it’s Benz or bust for you, take it one CLAss at a time. The CLA 180 may be entry-level, but with gorgeous exterior and prodigious pedigree, what an entrance you’re going to make.

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