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New York show: Mercedes sticks to its CLA guns

Mild mannered: Mercedes’ revamped CLA, including the five-door Shooting Brake, is expected to land in Australia in the third quarter of this year.

Mild makeover for Mercedes CLA as Benz sticks to its successful ‘coupe’ recipe


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16 Mar 2016

WHEN you are on a good thing, stick to it. That appears to be the attitude of Mercedes-Benz as it dished out a subtle mid-life facelift of its game-changing CLA “coupe”.

Previewed today in images released at three-pointed-star headquarters in Stuttgart, the latest version will make its public debut in four-door form at next week’s New York motor show, while the five-door CLA Shooting Brake wagon will be seen in the flesh at a sports awards event in Berlin next month.

For Australia, where the new CLA will make its showroom debut in the third quarter of this year, changes to the strong-selling front-wheel-drive vehicle range will be mostly superficial.

A new nose with a fresh bumper design is the most obvious change, along with a slightly re-designed “diamond-look” radiator grille that now goes across all of the mainstream variants.

Improved connectivity and a hands-free opening function for the boot and wagon hatch are among other upgrades.

In Europe, a new super-efficient 1.5-litre 180d BlueEfficiency diesel engine capable of sipping just 3.5 litres per 100km and emitting a mere 89 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre will be introduced.

According to Mercedes-Benz Australia-Pacific, the engine line-up is expected to remain largely unchanged for Australia where the CLA has a choice of four variants, including one diesel, the 2.1-litre 200d in both ‘coupe’ and wagon.

Pricing is also expected to continue in the same ballpark. It currently starts at $51,400 (plus on-road costs), rising to $89,500 for the firebrand CLA45 AMG 4Matic which, in the revised range, gets the neck-snapping 280kW/475Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine hooked up to the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

That AMG powertrain was announced at the Frankfurt motor show last year, so it is unsurprising that AMG engineers kept their hands off it this time.

The updated engine powers the CLA45 AMG coupe to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds, while the Shooting Brake takes an extra one-tenth of a second.

The refreshed interior gets more liberal slabs of chrome plating, while the seats get a new-look upholstery. The instrument dials have been restyled, and now get red needles.

Improved connectivity now includes voice-operated iPhone Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while a new-look 8.0-inch free-standing touchscreen is optional.

Also optional on mainstream models is an LED headlight package instead of the standard bi-Xenons. The CLA45 AMG now gets these as standard.

The lights package includes tail-lights with automatic intensity control to reduce dazzle for trailing motorists.

The CLA45 AMG design is largely unchanged, with a twin-louvre grille in matte chrome.

A new front splitter design and a revised rear boot-lip spoiler on the ‘coupe’ are said to have improved aerodynamics, including reduced drag.

At the back, a new-look diffuser has four vertical fins in the modern fashion.

Further aerodynamic aides are optional, along with 19-inch cross-spoke alloy wheels in place of the usual 18s.

Inside, the CLA45 AMG’s instrument panel and door trims are cloaked in faux leather with red stitching.

The minor changes will not to rock the CLA boat too much, which is understandable considering the vehicle’s world-wide sales success.

In Australia, the CLA remains one of the brand’s top sellers, last year scoring 3659 sales – up 36.4 per cent on 2014 – and trailing only the traditional number one, the C-Class.

This year, CLA sales are up a further 31.4 per cent, although it has slipped to third place due to the red-hot sales success of Benz’s new GLC SUV.

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