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Nuts and Bolts: Mercedes-Benz CLA250

Bottom line: I love diesel technology, primarily because it is at least 30 percent more fuel-efficient than gasoline-fueled engines such as the 2-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder model in the new Mercedes-Benz CLA250. But at $36,000, with decent fuel economy (35 miles per gallon on the highway) and every conceivable advanced electronic safety option, the new CLA250 offers a much better deal than the $40,600-plus-$7,000-in-options BMW 328d.

Ride, acceleration and handling: This one gets very good marks in all three.

Head-turning quotient: The CLA250 drew rave reviews everywhere I parked it. People especially loved the car’s diamond-black grille and sleek front-to-rear lines. No “face” is lost here for folks in need of a “genuine” Mercedes-Benz. The CLA250 represents!

Body style/layout: It is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive compact sedan in the “entry-level luxury” class ($30,000 to $45,000). There are four side doors and a notchback trunk. It is in a slot below Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class and is also available as the upgraded and more powerful CLA 45AMG. A 4Matic (all-wheel-drive) version will be available by late spring.

Engine/transmission: It comes with a gasoline-powered 2-liter, 16-valve turbocharged (forced air) in-line four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing (208 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque). It is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission that can be operated manually.

Capacities: Seats five people. The rear cabin is a bit tight for larger - height and width - people. Cargo space is 13.1 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 13.1 gallons of required premium gasoline.

Mileage: I averaged 35 miles per gallon in highway driving.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes, four-wheel anti-lock brake protection, emergency braking assistance, emergency braking preparation, electronic brake-force distribution, automatic brake drying, electronic stability and traction control, Parktronic with park assist, blind-spot monitoring, and a post-collision safety system.

Pricing: The base price is $29,900, with a dealer’s invoice price of $27,807. Price as tested is $35,325, including $5,400 in options (Distronic following-distance monitoring; lane-departure warning; blind-spot monitoring; onboard navigation and backup camera) and a $925 factory-to-dealer transportation charge.

— Warren Brown