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Mercedes reveals baby CLA sedan

Exposed: The final Mercedes-Benz CLA design retains its concept forebear’s coupe-like profile, but picks up an array of design features inspired by the A-Class hatch.

Benz targets youth with sleek new CLA based on the A-Class hatchback

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Mercedes-Benz logo15 Jan 2013

By MIKE COSTELLO

MERCEDES-BENZ has revealed the CLA sedan – a new model line aimed at customers who “never intended buying” a Benz.

Designed as a four-door coupe in the style of its larger and more premium CLS sibling, as well as rivals such as the Volkswagen CC, the CLA will hit European showrooms in April before arriving in Australia by the end of 2013, where it is tipped to be priced from close to $50,000.

The latest niche model to roll down the Mercedes production line retains the curvaceous, low-slung design of the Concept Style Coupe revealed in Beijing last April, and picks up a number of styling similarities to the new A-Class hatch with which it shares its platform.

These include larger and more angular headlights and grille (with diamond-shaped mesh) than those found on the Beijing concept, and more pronounced ‘character lines’ running along the pillarless doors.

Benz describes the design as “energetic” and “youthful”.

Daimler AG chairman Dieter Zetsche said audience response to the concept in Beijing had been “overwhelming”, and that “the most frequent comment by far was ‘please put this car into series production’ that’s precisely what we are doing now”.

An additional benefit of the sleek styling is its aerodynamic rating, which at 0.23Cd sets a claimed new benchmark for production vehicles. The greener BlueEfficiency version to be launched in Europe in June will cut this even further to 0.22.

Unlike the concept version, the production CLA gets five seats rather than four, while the instrument panel is almost identical to the A-Class.

Design features include distinctive round air vents, a free-standing screen and extensive metallic finish resulting in a “cool touch”.

The multimedia system in the CLA, as featured in other Mercedes models, features COMAND functionality with internet tethering and live traffic updates, plus Siri voice-control integration.

Belying its small hatchback origins – it sits on Mercedes’ new front- and all-wheel-drive modular architecture, dubbed MFA, which also underpins the new B-Class MPV – the CLA is slightly longer and lower than the more conventional C-Class at 4630mm long, 1777mm wide and 1437mm high.

In its home market of Germany, it will also be cheaper, with entry-level CLA180 turbo-petrol versions undercutting the (more powerful) C180 by more than €4000.

Under the slick body sits a range of Euro 6-compliant, turbocharged, direct-injected petrol and diesel engines shared with the A-Class, including a 1.6-litre petrol in 90kW/200Nm and 115kW/250Nm states of tune, and a 125kW/350Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel.

A smaller 100kW/300Nm CLA200 diesel will join the range several months after launch.

The headline act from launch will be the 155kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol CLA250, with a claimed zero-to-100km/h sprint time of 6.7 seconds and top speed of 240km/h.

All engines feature idle-stop, while a six-speed manual gearbox and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission will be available.

The chassis features MacPherson struts at the front and independent multi-link suspension at the rear, and all variants have electromechanical power steering.

As with the A-Class, the CLA will be front-wheel-drive, but Mercedes will offer 4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive as an option. It is unclear at this stage whether both configurations will be offered in right-hand-drive markets such as Australia.

Benz has previously confirmed it will add the hardcore CLA45 AMG a few months after the rest of the line-up, featuring all-wheel-drive and a 2.0-litre turbo engine producing more than 400Nm of torque.

All versions will feature a new version of the company’s radar-based brake-assist system that now works from 7km/h (the previous system only worked from 30km/h).

This can be upgraded to Collision Prevention Plus with autonomous vehicle braking, which will automatically brake the vehicle from speeds of up to 200km/h if the driver is slow to hit the middle pedal.

Lane assist, blind-spot warning, high-beam assist and park assist will also be available.

The CLA is set to make its first public appearance at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin on January 15, ahead of an official launch at the Geneva motor show in March.

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