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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - CLA

Beijing show: Benz to preview CLA compact four-door

Platform sprawl: The new Mercedes-Benz B-class platform will eventually spawn at least five derivatives, including the CLA four-door 'coupe'.

New Mercedes B-class platform will spawn a baby CLS, to be badged CLA

Mercedes-Benz logo4 Apr 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

MERCEDES-BENZ has confirmed it will build a compact four-door ‘coupe’ called the CLA, to be based on the same new modular platform that underpins the latest B-class.

The car will appear in concept form at the Beijing motor show later this month ahead of its production debut by year’s end, possibly at the Paris show in September.

Mercedes Australia senior manager of corporate communications David McCarthy has confirmed to GoAuto that the car will make its way Down Under around the second quarter of next year.

This means it will arrive several months after the sleek new A-class hatchback range – also based on the front-drive B-class underpinning – that arrives in the first quarter of 2013.

Local pricing for the CLA could kick off below $50k, with the car to slot into the local Benz line-up priced somewhere between the B-class (from $38,950) and the C-class (from $58,400).

4 center imageFrom top: Mercedes B-class, new A-class, CLS.

Details are scarce, but expect entry-grade variants to be available in front-drive layout and flagship performance variants – an AMG version also seems likely down the track – to feature all-wheel drive.

The B-class architecture is currently front-drive only, but Benz has previously confirmed it will produce an AWD compact SUV from the same platform.

Spy shots of the car undergoing testing while wearing heavy camouflage indicate that the car will be share styling cues with the larger CLS four-door coupe, albeit in ‘downsized’ format.

“What this will do is give people a choice around that luxury car tax limit ($57,466),” said Mr McCarthy, “give them something that they really haven’t had before other than a C-class.

“CLA, like new A-class, is going to be a huge, huge conquest car. Any vehicle that has significant style as part of its DNA I think will be a competitor in that price bracket.”

Potential rivals could include conceptually-similar, but larger, models such as the Volkswagen CC and Audi A5 Sportback.

Daimler AG chairman Dieter Zetsche last week confirmed that a new-generation four-door coupe – now known to be the CLA – is to be built at Mercedes’ brand new passenger car plant at Kecskemét in Hungary alongside the B-class.

The CLA, new B-class, forthcoming A-class and eventual GLC compact SUV – expected to emerge in Europe early next year and Australia in 2014 – will give Mercedes a more formidable low-end armoury to better counter arch-foes BMW and Audi.

Mercedes-Benz Australia managing director Horst von Sanden confirmed at this week’s launch of the new B-class that the modular platform would eventually spawn five derivatives, with the fifth of these not yet publically known.

Speculation is rife overseas that this mystery model could be a ‘shooting brake’ station wagon, with other possibilities including a compact sedan or smaller, sub-SLK roadster/coupe.

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