Mercedes CLA - Five Things You Need to Know

It may be home to the American Big Three car manufacturers - Ford, General Motors and Chrysler - but theres more to the Detroit Auto Show than just domestic brands.

Mercedes-Benz is using the show to launch the CLA, a significant new front-wheel drive model based on the recently-launched Mercedes-Benz A-Class. The sleek four-door coupe is promising industry-leading aerodynamics and creates a new market segment.
Weve poured over the press release to pick out the five most important features of the new car - so below are the five things you really need to know about Mercs newest compact model.
Mercedes CLA

1. Think miniature CLS

Mercedes might not have been the first to invent a four-door coupe, but they certainly popularised it with the original CLS. If you wanted an E-Class with sleeker styling and a little more drama, it was the model to go for. Well, the CLA is to the A-Class as the CLS was to the E-Class - think a low, sweeping roofline and a more elegant profile than the slightly squat A-Class - but otherwise, very similar under the skin.
Its a visually complex design, with convex and concave surfacing everywhere you look, but with large wheels and a kicked-up bootlid, its suitably sporty and well-proportioned. Probably more so than the current CLS, in fact.
Mercedes CLA

2. Sleek visually, sleek aerodynamically

The new A-Class is already an aerodynamically-efficient vehicle, but the CLA takes things one step further. With a drag coefficient of 0.23 - or as low as 0.22 on the upcoming CLA 180 BlueEFFICIENCY model, not yet confirmed for UK sales - its the most aerodynamically efficient production car ever made.
For comparison, the slippery teardrop profile of a Toyota Prius carries a Cd of 0.25. A typical A-Class rival, such as the BMW 1-Series, is 0.29. Mercedes says factors like low A-pillars, specially-designed door mirrors, underbody panelling and a rear diffusor all contribute to the cars incredibly efficient shape.
Mercedes CLA

3. Its all A-Class under the skin

As such a departure from previous A-Class models, the current car was a new design from the ground up. Itd be a shame to waste that, so Mercedes hasnt - the CLA is essentially the same underneath. That means its a front-engined, front-wheel drive car, with a range of four-cylinder engines between 1.6 and 2.1 litres in capacity, petrol and diesel.
At the bottom of the pile youll find the CLA 180, using a 1.6-litre, 122 bhp petrol engine hooked up to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Itll reach 62 mph in a few clicks over 9 seconds and do 130 mph, so it isnt short on performance. Around 50 mpg is on offer, too. A sporty, 2.0-litre turbo CLA 250 is the top petrol unit for now, with 150 mph performance on offer.
Diesels will no doubt remain popular, the range-topping CLA 220 CDI offering up to 67 mpg, while developing a thumping 350 newton-metres of torque. Start-stop is standard, and you can choose between 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch auto transmissions.
Mercedes CLA

4. It isnt short on kit

Anyone familiar to the A-Class will quickly adapt to the CLAs interior, too. A sporty, low-slung driving position is present and correct, and unless something goes terribly wrong between show and production, wed expect the same levels of quality, and fit and finish too. Mercedes calls the interior trim cool touch, which means lots of galvanised metal-finish trim, from the dashboard panel to the air vent rings. The CLA is primarily a four-seater, though Mercedes describes the rear bench as a 2+1, suggesting someone small and unlikely to complain might cope for short journeys.
Were still not overly keen on the floating touchscreen notepad-style affair above the central air vents, but you cant fault the level of features it offers. Mercedes-Benz has updated the software for the CLA, with new functions, additional apps and a modified graphic colour scheme. Itll integrate with your iPhone, offers Facebook, Twitter and internet radio, as well as navigation from Garmin.
Mercedes CLA

5. Safety is a priority

Like the A-Class, the CLA is loaded with safety kit to keep your Mercedes, Mercedes-shaped. That starts with making sure youre awake, with Attention Assist drowsiness detection, and Collision Prevention Assist with adaptive Brake Assist to slam on the brakes should you neglect to do so yourself.
Distronic Plus radar-guided cruise control is a standard convenience feature, but with Collision Prevention Assist Plus it becomes a safety feature too. The system can actually carry out autonomous braking at speeds of up to 124 mph should the driver not respond in time - and while that speed is aimed more at autobahns than congested British motorways, its nice to know itll cope with high speeds. Even if you dont stop entirely, youll hopefully have shed enough speed to reduce an impacts severity.
Adaptive high beam assist, lane keeping technology and blind-spot recognition tech are all optional on CLA models, too.
Priced from: Not yet announced

On sale from: Order March 2013, in dealers from June 2013
Mercedes CLA


If you liked the A-Class, youll probably like the CLA too. It offers all the features youll find on the A-Class, but wrapped in a more aerodynamically efficient and expensive-looking body. Some may bemoan the front-wheel drive layout, but its unlikely to matter to most - the A-Class already handles neatly and goes smartly, so were not expecting any different from the CLA.
Update: We've now added ourfull Mercedes CLA review. With prices, stats, reviews, photos, videos and more!

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