The all-new Mercedes-Benz CLA has been unveiled ahead of its official debut at the 2013 Detroit motor show. It's a four-door saloon with coupe-like styling similar to that of the larger Mercedes CLS, and it goes on sale in March.
Although it's based on the same platform – and uses the same engines – as the latest A-Class, the CLA has a sportier look, with 'power bulges' on its bonnet, frameless side windows and a sleek, tapered profile. At 463cm long the CLA is 34cm longer than the A-Class – and 4cm longer than the C-Class saloon. Its smooth lines mean that it has the best aerodynamics of any new car, with a .22 Cd rating.
Inside, the CLA's cabin is all but identical to the A-Class's, with a dashboard that features round air vents and an iPad-like display screen that protrudes from the top of the centre console.
The CLA will be available with comfort or sport suspension systems; all versions get a steering system that allows some corrective steering if the stability control system senses that the car is starting to slide.
The engines are all turbocharged four-cylinder units; there are 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrols that develop between 120bhp and 208bhp, and 2.1-litre diesel engines with 134bhp or 168bhp.
All engines come with an engine stop-start system and – depending on the engine – either a six-speed manual or seven-speed twin-clutch transmission. It will also be the first car in the A-Class family to come with four-wheel drive.
A number of high-tech safety systems are available. All versions get attention-assist and collision-prevention systems, while blind-spot-warning and lane-keeping-assist systems are among the available options.
As with the larger CLS coupe, it is likely that there will be an estate, or shooting brake, version in the future.
Full pricing and specification details will be announced closer to the CLA's March on-sale date, but we'd expect the entry-level model to cost around £22,000. First customer deliveries will be in June.
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