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Beijing show: Mercedes previews entry-level sedan

Hey good lookin’: The Mercedes Concept Style Coupe reveals the styling of the forthcoming CLA compact sedan.

Concept Style Coupe previews sleek, sub-$50k Mercedes-Benz CLA four-door

Mercedes-Benz logo19 Apr 2012

MERCEDES-BENZ has released official images of the sleek Concept Style Coupe ahead of its public debut in Beijing next week.

The CSC concept previews the forthcoming CLA compact sedan that is slated to appear in production form at the Paris motor show in September, and which Mercedes Australia has pencilled in for local sale by mid-2013.

As we have reported, the CLA will be based on the same ‘MFA’ modular platform that underpins the new B-class (released here earlier this month) and upcoming A-class small car (due early next year).

The car made a brief appearance at an art house event in Los Angeles today.

Mercedes has given the CSC the same coupe-like silhouette style as its larger but conceptually similar CLS, with a muscular grille design that follows recent product style, including the new A-class, which debuted at the Geneva show in March.

The concept also features a full panoramic roof, 20-inch turbine-style wheels and frameless side windows.

Entry and egress is aided by the absence of a traditional B-pillar, although this seems unlikely to see production.

4 center imageThe A-class influence is more evident inside the cabin, which exhibits a familiar instrument fascia and dashtop-mounted screen with COMAND Online connectivity.

The concept gets more outlandish features like carbon-fibre trim and alcantara trim on most contact surfaces, and neon green seat piping and air-vent highlights.

While the CSC is a four-seater with a storage area replacing the fifth seat, it is unclear whether this configuration – much like the similarly sleek but larger Volkswagen Passat CC – will carry over onto the CLA.

The CSC is powered by the 155kW 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol used in the A250 Sport that will rival the Volkswagen Golf GTI hot hatch Down Under.

Unlike the A-class and B-class, the CSC’s power is channelled to all four wheels via a 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, and is matched to Mercedes’ new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

At 4637mm long, 1891mm wide and 1398mm high, the CSC is slightly longer than a current C-class sedan, but narrower and lower.

Mercedes Australia senior manager of corporate communications David McCarthy told GoAuto today that the CLA could kick off from around the $50k mark, placing it in a “category of one”.

Much like the A-class, the CLA will be a big conquest car for the Stuttgart marque in Australia, priced sharply enough to drag style-conscious buyers away from less prestigious brands in the lower end of the premium market.

Expect entry-grade variants to be available in front-drive layout and flagship performance variants – an AMG version looks to be a starter – to feature all-wheel drive.

Mercedes will eventually add another two models to the MFA architecture, with the first expected to be a small SUV – probably badged as the GLC – set to emerge overseas next year before coming to Australia in 2014.

Benz has not confirmed what the other addition will be, with possible contenders including a ‘shooting brake’ wagon or a sub-SLK roadster/coupe.

The CLA will be built alongside the B-class at Mercedes’ new passenger-car plant at Kecskemét in Hungary.

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