Mercedes CLA

Sporty, high-tech, sleek coupé

Autocar - - CONTENTS - JAMES ATTWOOD

Mercedes-benz has promised that the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion CLA coupé, re­vealed at the Con­sumer Elec­tronic Show (CES) in Las Ve­gas, will of­fer the sporti­est driv­ing dy­nam­ics of its new wave of com­pact cars.

The new four-door coupé is due to ar­rive in the UK in June. It is built on a re-en­gi­neered ver­sion of the pre­vi­ous car’s plat­form and uses tech­nol­ogy from the lat­est A-class.

Avail­able with front- and four-wheel drive and the choice of two rear sus­pen­sion sys­tems, the new ma­chine was dis­played at CES in CLA250 guise, fea­tur­ing a 221bhp four­cylin­der 2.0-litre petrol en­gine, driven through a seven-speed au­to­matic gear­box. The rest of the en­gine range is likely to mir­ror the A-class, with 131bhp and 161bhp 1.3-litre petrols, a 187bhp ver­sion of the 2.0 petrol, a 114bhp 1.5 and 148bhp and 187bhp 2.0 diesels.

A de­cou­pled multi-link rear axle will be of­fered, with ac­tive adap­tive damp­ing avail­able as an op­tion. Wheel sizes will range from 16in to 19in.

At 4688mm long and 1830mm wide, the new CLA is 48mm longer and 53mm wider than its pre­de­ces­sor, and its 2729mm wheel­base has been ex­tended by 30mm. Mercedes said this, along with the car’s lower cen­tre of grav­ity, helps to en­sure it has im­proved driv­ing dy­nam­ics. The new CLA has also been honed in the wind tun­nel to have a drag co­ef­fi­cient of 0.23, very close to the pre­vi­ous car’s 0.22 Cd de­spite a larger frontal area.

In its de­sign, the new CLA has echoes of the A-class and other re­cent new Mercedes, but with an elon­gated bon­net fea­tur­ing a sharply raked nose, uniquely de­signed flat head­lights and a prom­i­nent ‘pow­er­dome’ on the bon­net. The slop­ing coupé roofline is em­pha­sised by frame­less doors. The rear of the car fea­tures nar­row tail-lights de­signed to make the ve­hi­cle ap­pear even wider.

The car’s larger di­men­sions have re­sulted in a more spa­cious in­te­rior, with 17mm of ex­tra head room, although leg room re­mains broadly sim­i­lar to the pre­vi­ous model’s and the boot has shrunk by 10 litres to 460 litres.

The CLA has the youngest av­er­age cus­tomers of all Mercedes mod­els, so the firm has fo­cused on a high-tech theme for the in­te­rior. The dash­board fea­tures a cen­trally mounted touch­screen and no cowl, with a ‘trench’ split­ting out the lower sec­tion. It also has the new­est ver­sion of the Mercedes-benz User Ex­pe­ri­ence (MBUX) sys­tem, in­clud­ing ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice recog­ni­tion con­trol.

A new in­te­rior as­sist sys­tem en­ables ges­ture con­trol of cer­tain func­tions and it is said the car can de­tect whether the driver or pas­sen­ger is us­ing

the touch­screen and re­act ac­cord­ingly. Ges­tur­ing to­wards the rear-view mir­ror can also con­trol the read­ing light.

As with the A-class, the CLA also re­ceives driver as­sis­tance sys­tems orig­i­nally seen on the most re­cent S-class, al­low­ing the ma­chine to drive semi-au­tonomously for the first time. The sys­tems fit­ted in­clude ac­tive brake, lane keep­ing and lane change as­sis­tance sys­tems along with Pre-safe Plus, which can de­tect an im­mi­nent rear-end col­li­sion and pre­pare the car for it.

The CLA will be of­fered at launch as a lim­ited-run Edi­tion 1, fea­tur­ing a num­ber of vis­ual tweaks. UK trim and spec­i­fi­ca­tions have yet to be de­ter­mined. The car will be man­u­fac­tured at Mercedes’ Kacskemet plant in Hun­gary.

A shoot­ing brake es­tate is due to fol­low later this year. Mercedes per­for­mance arm AMG is also work­ing on a range-top­ping CLA45 model, fea­tur­ing the most highly tuned, 415bhp ver­sion of the M260 2.0-litre petrol en­gine. A 302bhp 2.0-litre CLA35 AMG is also planned.

❝ It will be avail­able with front- and four-wheel drive and the choice of two rear sus­pen­sion sys­tems ❞

OF­FI­CIAL PIC­TURES

New CLA is wider and longer than its pre­de­ces­sor

High-tech look and feel in­side draw on A-class

New CLA four­door coupé will hit the UK in June

De­tailed aero work has re­duced its Cd to just 0.23

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