Following a brief appearance on the eve of the NAIAS in Detroit (January 14-27, 2013), the CLA will have its official world premiere at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin (January 15-18, 2013). The new CLA will be available in Canadian dealerships in September 2013.
The CLA is set to establish a new segment, with world-leading aerodynamics, avant-garde coupe design and available 4MATIC™ all wheel drive. As a new four-door coupe, it follows the idea of the CLS, whose design concept has spawned more than its fair share of imitators since its debut in 2003. With its frameless doors, the coupe adopts the design of the Concept Style Coupe into series production. The newcomer features a radar-based braking system (COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST) as standard which is able to warn the driver of an obstacle from a speed of 7 km/h and to initiate precision braking when the driver steps on the brake pedal.
"The response to the Concept Style Coupe was overwhelming. The most frequent comment by far was 'Please put this car into series production.' That's precisely what we are doing now," notes Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management at Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. "The CLA is a car that does not confuse 'middle range' with 'middling quality'. Its sporty design underscores the sporty side of the Mercedes-Benz brand."
In keeping with its sporty positioning, the CLA will be available with a high-torque turbo engine, sports suspension and 4MATIC™ all-wheel drive. The technical highlights of this new design icon include a new world record in aerodynamics for series production automobiles and numerous driving assistance systems, including advanced COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST.
This radar-based assistance system provides the possibly distracted driver with visual and acoustic warnings of identified obstacles and prepares Brake Assist for precision braking. Braking is initiated as soon as the driver steps emphatically on the brake pedal. When an impending danger of collision is identified, COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST calculates the precise braking force ideally needed to avoid an accident and makes the best possible use of any distance remaining. As a new feature, COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST affords protection from typical rear-end collisions in dangerous traffic situations in the CLA from a speed of only 7 km/h (previously: over 30 km/h).
The dimensions of this striking compact mid-range coupe are (length/width/height: 4630/1777/1437 millimetres). In keeping with the digital lifestyle of the CLA's social media-savvy target group, smartphones can additionally be fully integrated into the vehicle's display and operating system.
The style rebel: exterior design
Its breathtakingly sporty proportions and powerfully dynamic design idiom featuring an interplay between concave and convex surfaces give this four-door coupe its unmistakable look. The CLA adopts the avant-garde design of the Concept Style Coupe into series production almost 1:1.
The vehicle's striking features include the hood embedded in the front end with powerdomes and the diamond radiator grille. The light modules and LEDs behind the headlamp cover glass have been arranged in such a way as to create the characteristic "flare effect" for the daytime driving lights and indicators. This light signet defines the car's energetic appearance and shapes a new, youthful Mercedes-Benz face.
Numerous details indicate that on a design level the CLA represents a further development of the modern classic Mercedes-Benz CLS. Three prominent lines give structure to the vehicle when viewed from the side: the front structural edge over the wings flows towards the rear end in a characteristic dropping line. Another, more sinewy line spans the shoulder muscle above the rear axle, while the third feature line extends in a sweeping curve from the front wheel towards the rear. Together, these lines lend depth and dynamism to the side profile.
The width-emphasizing rear end exudes power and athleticism, featuring an interplay between convex and concave surfaces and edges. The gently sloping roof contour and the pronounced, hallmark curvature of the rear window provide the CLA with a coupe-style character from the rear. The athletic impression from the rear results from the drawn-in C-pillars in conjunction with the shoulder muscle over the rear wheel arch linings. The tail lights are framed by the muscular lines of the shoulders which extend into the rear end, the horizontal orientation of the lights emphasizing the rear's powerful and aesthetic breadth. The light functions feature an arrow-style arrangement.
A large panoramic sliding sunroof is optionally available. This sunroof consists of a fixed polycarbonate cover at the front, a moving element made of mineral crystal and side trims to match the glass look. As such, the glass surface then extends from the front windscreen to the rear window.
"Cool touch" effect: the interior
The exterior's progressive, sporty appearance is continued inside the vehicle. The interior additionally derives a very special quality feel from the design idiom, the selection of high-quality materials and the available combinations of materials. All trim surfaces are galvanized, resulting in a metallic finish.
The instrument panel incorporates five round vents. The outer rings of the round vents have a high-quality electroplated finish. The airflow direction is governed by a galvanized insert that reveals a meticulous attention to detail. The free-standing display screen features a black piano-lacquer-look front panel and a flush-fitting silver frame.
The CLA is fitted with integral seats in the front and rear, underscoring its sporty character. The rear bench seat emphasizes the outer seats (2+1-seater). Coloured contrasting stitching is available, according to the selected interior appointment options. A fibre-optic cable in the opening between head restraint and backrest is optionally available as part of the ambient lighting.
Designed for dynamism: the chassis and suspension
The chassis of the CLA features a McPherson front axle and an independent multilink rear suspension, featuring three control arms and one trailing arm per wheel. This means that longitudinal and lateral dynamics are virtually independent of one another. A CLA-specific feature is the flexible decoupling of the rear axle carrier, which benefits ride comfort. Wheel carriers and spring links consist of aluminium, in order to reduce the unsprung masses. Two chassis and suspension set-ups are available: the comfort suspension and the optional sports suspension for sporty yet comfortable handling. The latter entails lowering of the body by 20 mm (front) and 15 mm (rear).
Irrespective of the selected chassis, all CLA variants come with the Direct Steer system. This electromechanical power steering offers improved feedback to the driver in comparison to conventional systems regarding the prevailing driving conditions and makes an important contribution towards overall efficiency, as the steering assist function only requires energy when steering is actually carried out. It additionally enables various steering assistance functions which are activated by the ESP® control unit. These include countersteering in case of oversteering, corrective steering when braking on road surfaces offering different levels of grip (split-friction braking), mitigation of the extent to which the front-wheel drive influences the steering and compensation of crosswind and road gradients.
High tractive power reserves and outstanding agility: 4MATIC™ all-wheel drive
The CLA from Mercedes-Benz is optionally available with a new generation of the 4MATIC™ permanent all-wheel drive system featuring fully variable torque distribution. Similarly to the other 4MATIC™ versions, this completely new development boasts high tractive power reserves and outstanding agility combined with superlative driving safety and energy efficiency.
The components of the new 4MATIC™ include the power take-off to the rear axle which is integrated in the 7G-DCT automated dual clutch transmission and the rear-axle gear with integrated, electrohydraulically controlled multi-disk clutch. This set-up enables fully variable distribution of the drive torque between front and rear axle. Additional benefits of this design are a lower system weight than is available from the competition and high efficiency.