Can a Mercedes CLA tow a caravan?

                                             

This article will give information regarding towing capacities of the Mercedes Benz CLA model series. And answer the question: can a Mercedes Benz CLA tow a caravan?. This article will also explain driver assistance systems available while towing and the process involved in attaching a trailer to a vehicle.

Can a Mercedes CLA tow a caravan?

Yes, Mercedes Benz CLA can be used to tow a small caravan. However, as the CLA model series is based on the A-class platform it is not suitable to tow big caravans weighing over 1300kg. Towing is also not possible by the model variants listed below.

  • CLA 180 d BlueEFFICIENCY edition
  • CLA 250 sport
  • CLA 250 sport 4MATIC
  • Mercedes AMG CLA 45 4MATIC
  • Variants of the AMG line.

Let’s take a look at the following table of trailer loads for braked trailers.

Braked trailers have an independent mechanical braking system that applies brakes to the trailer through linkage connected to the trailer hitch mechanism and does not rely on braking force from the vehicle.  Thus Braked trailer loads are always higher compared to unbraked trailers.

CLA with 4MATIC which is an all-wheel-drive system using the power take-off unit will offer higher towing capacity as all wheels are driven and provide better traction on the road compared to two-wheel drive variants. The towing loads also depend upon the minimum initial incline climbing ability of the vehicle, in the case of CLA it is 12%.

The following tables show unbraked trailer loads

Unbraked permissible trailer loads are lower compared to braked trailers as they must be slowed down with the braking force provided by the vehicle. If unbraked trailer loads are higher than gross weight of the vehicle, there won’t be sufficient brake force available to stop and this will lead to accidents.

The CLA model series offers a maximum braked towing capacity of only 1500kg and for unbraked trailers, it is 750kg. The permissible trailer loads also depend on the combined weight of occupants and cargo in the vehicle.

Important weight terms to remember before attaching the tailor.

  • Gross weight – Total weight of the vehicle with the weight of occupants and cargo in the vehicle. The permissible gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is usually available on the Vehicle identification plate located on the B-pillar of the vehicle. Actual gross weight must not exceed this rating
  • Nose weight of trailer- The nose weight of the trailer is the total weight at the coupling head connected to the towball of the towing vehicle. This nose weight naturally affects the gross weight of the vehicle. The nose weight is between 10 to 15 % of the weight of the trailer and its loads. This is also known as maximum drawbar load.
  • MRO- mass in running order indicates the average weight of an unloaded caravan. Refer to manufacturing details before towing the caravan.
  • MTPLM- maximum technically permissible laden mass this is the total weight the caravan is rated for, generally the maximum weight of the loaded caravan.
  • Towing capacity- it is the maximum weight the vehicle can tow minus the gross weight of the vehicle. The higher gross weight reduces the towing capacity and affects the weight distribution.

Connecting a Trailer to the vehicle.

If the vehicle is fitted with a trailer hitch mechanism from the factory, it is usually electrically operated from a switch in the load compartment. Pressing the switch will lower the towing ball of the trailer hitch. Mechanical levers can also be used to lower the towing ball.

The ball neck must be pulled and locked into towing position, if the ball is damaged due to an accident it must be replaced, and the condition of the ball neck must be checked before attaching the trailer to the vehicle.

  • The vehicle transmission should be in P (parked) gear.
  • The electrical parking brake must be engaged to prevent the vehicle from rolling.
  • The trailer must be positioned behind the vehicle in a straight line before connecting the trailer.
  • The nose load of the trailer affects the position of coupling on the trailer,  a trailer with height-adjustable drawbars helps to connect with the towing ball more easily.
  • Lastly, connect the electrical coupler for the lights to the vehicle.

CLA is equipped with a trailer recognition control unit that controls the lighting system on the trailer.  The vehicle trailer socket is factory fitted with a permanent power supply. 

If the vehicle is travelling downhill with the trailer attached, selecting lower gear will use engine braking effect on automation transmission. This reduces the load on the vehicle braking system, especially in the case of unbraked trailers and prevents brake fade due to overheating.

Engine and gearbox available on New CLA model series.

The Mercedes Benz CLA model series has a wide range of engine options available. For the petrol variant engine M282 and a larger displacement M260 producing a minimum power output of 100kW and maximum power output of 225 kW. The torque figure ranges from 260 NM to 400NM. On diesel variants OM 654 is installed in transverse position, producing a maximum power output of 140kW and 400NM torque.

An additional 75 kW of power and 330 Nm torque is provided by the electric machine in case of plug-in variants. Diesel engine with its superior torque and the all-wheel-drive system naturally has the highest towing capacity in all available variants. The diesel engine also comes equipped with an AdBlue injection system for exhaust after-treatment.

New improved 8-speed DCT 400 transmission is mated to both petrol and diesel engines with engine separated clutch in case of hybrid model. Hence maximum torque is available right from low engine speeds.

Driver assistance systems available while towing in a Mercedes Benz CLA

  • ESP trailer stabilisation- ESP control unit monitors vehicle wheel speeds by wheel speed sensors and steering inputs with the help of steering angle sensor. If the vehicle with the trailer starts to swerve, the ESP control unit will intervene by reducing engine power and braking at individual wheels to stabilise the vehicle. This is only active from 65km/h.
  • Crosswind assistance- While towing a caravan, the vehicle behaves differently. A strong crosswind can push a vehicle off the straight line and into the divider or oncoming traffic. Crosswind assistance integrated into the ESP control unit helps in keeping the vehicle in a straight line. ESP control unit can brake individual wheels depending on the direction of wind hitting the vehicle. This function is active from 80km/h.

Conclusion

Although the Mercedes Benz CLA has a great towing capacity with a braked trailer, it is not good for towing large caravans over long distances. The maximum speed is hugely impacted by higher gross weight and fuel economy is also reduced.  AMG variants of the GLA model series do not come with a trailer hitch and installing any aftermarket towing mechanism will void the warranty.

FAQs: can a Mercedes CLA tow a caravan?

Can you fit a towbar to Mercedes Benz CLA?

A towbar can be installed to the towing eye provided with the vehicle. But towing a trailer is not suitable for this method. A proper trailer hitch mechanism with a tow ball must be used to tow a trailer.

Which Mercedes can tow a caravan?

Mercedes Benz models can be retrofitted with a trailer hitch. Visit the nearest dealership to check if retro fitment for your Mercedes is available. AMG model services are not recommended to tow a caravan.

Does adding trailer hitch void warranty?

If the trailer hitch is available for the model and installed by authorised personnel at the dealership then the warranty is not void. Installing an aftermarket trailer hitch with modification to the rear bumper can lead to damages to the vehicle and void the warranty.

Is the Mercedes Benz CLA worth buying?

Mercedes Benz CLA is a great sedan based on an A-class platform that can carry 5 occupants easily. It is worth buying as the CLA also comes in a shooting brake estate type model which has great luggage capacity and it can fulfil the requirements of various customers.

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