Mercedes CLA baby saloon due for January 2013 debut

Published: 21 December 2012

Mercedes will show its new CLA small saloon at the 2013 Detroit motor show next month – and here's what you can expect to see. Our artist's impression shows a small saloon spun off the new A-class family and the range will be led  by a 350bhp AMG version.

The new Merc CLA is aimed predominantly at the US and Chinese car markets, where small saloons are popular. They've never been a big hit in Europe, but all the German premium brands are developing their own.

Mercedes CLA: the background

The CLA will compete with a raft of front-wheel drive five-seaters from Audi (the so-called A3 Sportlimousine) and BMW (the New Entry Sedan, aka future 1- and 2-series notchbacks). Think of a baby CLS, four-door/coupe crossover, and you're in the right ballpark.

It's based on the A-class components set, dubbed MFA for Mercedes Front-wheel drive Architecture. Despite its name, the CLA and other small Mercs will in fact be available with four-wheel drive too.

Daimler issued its own 'spyshots' of the CLA recently, ahead of its official debut at the 2013 North American International Auto Show. It's also issued some details of the new 4wd architecture.

Merc CLA: actually bigger than the C-class

According to CAR's sources, the new four-door coupé is slightly longer than the more expensive rear-wheel drive C-class. The markets where this car will be sold demand lashings of cabin space, so that's what it serves up in spades.

The engine line-up in the new Mercedes CLA looks something like this:

• CLA 180 122bhp 1.6
• CLA 200 156bhp 1.6
• CLA 200 4-Matic, 170bhp
• CLA 250 211bhp 2.0
• CLA 180CDI 109bhp 1.6
• CLA 200CDI 136bhp 1.8
• CLA 220CDI 170bhp 2.2

At the top of the range, expect to see the brawny CLA 45 AMG - featuring a 350bhp 2.0-litre turbo engine, seven-speed DCT twin-clutch transmission and standard four–wheel drive.