Mercedes-Benz has revealed its new CLA, a four-door coupe based on the A-class, at an event held in Detroit on the night before this year's motor show opens. But to keep your attention on the big-selling E-class which also makes its debut here, the CLA won't be on Mercedes' show stand, and will make its official public debut at Berlin Fashion Week later this month.
Where does the 2013 CLA sit in the Mercedes range?
The CLA is based on the Concept Style Coupe shown last year, and is billed as a junior CLS. It is 39mm longer than a C-class saloon and 10mm lower and with drag figures of 0.23Cd for the standard car and 0.22Cd for the BlueEfficiency version, Mercedes claims it is the most aerodynamically efficient car in series production.
Give me the CLA's numbers
UK deliveries start in June, with prices expected to be around £3000 more than the equivalent A-class, giving an entry price of around £23,000 for the 121bhp CLA180 SE. The other engine options will be the 208bhp CLA250 and a 168bhp CLA220 CDI diesel.
A CLA45 AMG version will follow a few months after launch, sharing a 345bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder with the A45 AMG. The AMG version will be offered with a new 4Matic system developed by AMG for front-drive cars and with a fully variable front-rear torque split. The system will be offered later on standard CLAs.
||CLA 220 CDI|
||147 lb ft
||258 lb ft
||258 lb ft|
|Offical fuel economy
How big is it?
The CLA looks more compact than the dimensions suggest. You'll need a sharp duck of the head to clear the C-pillar if you're sitting in the back, and once in, your head is level with the pillar and you'll have to lean forward to see out. A six-footer will find his head and knees in contact with the car but it's far from uncomfortable, the thin, rigid, sculpted setbacks helping.
And who's going to buy a tiny four-door coupe that puts style over practicality?
Don't we all want flexible, practical, cross-over niche cars now? Well, not all of us. Mercedes seems to have spotted a gap between the niches for car with some glamour but not the size and bills. It looks great. It might do rather well. Given that China loves saloons and downsized engines, the CLA could see its biggest success among the Euro-savvy execs of Beijing.