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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - CLA

Mercedes gets down to business with CLA

Jobs on: Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche (left) with Hungarian prime minister Victor Orban (centre) and Kecskemet plant manager Frank Klein after driving the first CLA off the production line.

Benz begins churning out its next big thing, the four-door CLA ‘coupe’

Mercedes-Benz logo28 Jan 2013

By RON HAMMERTON

MERCEDES-BENZ’S new front-wheel-drive four-door ‘coupe’, the CLA, has started rolling off the company’s Hungarian production line less than two weeks after being previewed at this month’s Detroit motor show and launched at Berlin Fashion Week.

Daimler chairman and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Dieter Zetsche ceremonially steered CLA ‘job 1’ from the line in Kecskemet with Hungarian prime minister Victor Orban in the passenger seat.

The sleek new car is being exclusively built for global markets at the 10-month-old plant that has cut its teeth on the new B-Class since opening in March last year.

The CLA builds on the success of the German company’s coupe-style CLS limousine that has been widely mimicked by other European manufacturers and now by Benz itself on the compact CLA.

Built on the same new MFA compact car platform as the latest A-Class and B-Class, and with styling taken directly from the Compact Style Coupe shown at the Beijing motor show last year, the CLA is due to hit the streets of Europe in April ahead of its Australian showroom debut late this year.

Longer and wider than the rear-drive C-Class sedan, the CLA nevertheless is expected to be at least $8000 cheaper, starting about $50,000 in Australia, and thus potentially attracting a raft of new buyers to the marque.

Most models in the CLA range will be front-wheel drive, with Euro 6-compliant four-cylinder turbocharged engines ranging from a 122kW/200Nm 1.6-litre petrol and 80kW/260Nm 1.5-litre diesel to a 155kW/350Nm 2.0-litre petrol.

However, Mercedes-Benz has already foreshadowed a hot all-wheel-drive AMG version, the CLA45, with a class-leading 260kW of power and 450Nm of torque from its turbo four-cylinder petrol engine that also graces the A45 AMG.

The new Hungarian plant built 40,000 B-Class models last year, helping Mercedes achieve worldwide sales of 145,649 for the compact hatch, up more than 11 per cent on the previous B-Class sales record set in 2006.

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