The main focus of Mercedes-Benz’s presence here at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show will be the fully redesigned 2014 E-Class (and its too-hot AMG counterpart), but the German automaker did bring along another tasty little morsel for a sneak preview. Meet the new 2014 CLA-Class – a swoopy compact sedan based on the already successful new A-Class hatchback that’ll be arriving Stateside in September of this year. Mercedes-Benz introduced its new entry-level car to the world at Detroit’s Westin Book Cadillac hotel, but the CLA won’t be making an appearance under the lights of Cobo Hall. Instead, the company will be shipping its new four-door off to be officially debuted to the public at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin later this week, and its first official viewing at an auto show will be at the Geneva Motor Show.
And what a shame that is. We spent a few hours ogling the new CLA and it’s sort of sad that show-goers in Detroit this week won’t be able to do the same. It’s an impossibly pretty car from every single angle, Mercedes-Benz showing it off here in a deep red and a flat gray, the latter with optional sport appearance goodies. Part of that attractiveness is thanks to how stylishly slippery the CLA is – it boasts a drag coefficient of just 0.23, making it the most aerodynamic series production vehicle in the world. (Take that, Prius!)
It’s roughly the same size as a C-Class, and the four-door coupe language works quite well here in a smaller package.
It’s a nicely proportioned thing, too. It’s roughly the same size as a C-Class, and the four-door coupe language works quite well here in a smaller package. Mercedes designers have done a fantastic job with this sleek design on the larger CLS, and it’s arguably even better-looking here on this little guy. You really need to see the CLA in person to realize just how good it looks.
When the 2014 CLA-Class launches in the United States this fall, it will initially come only in CLA250 guise, packing a turbocharged 1.8-liter inline-four good for 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive will be standard, but Mercedes-Benz will also be offering a retuned version of its 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The company says that its AMG performance arm was heavily involved in the development of this new 4Matic architecture, and if that’s the case, there’s reason to expect good things. We’ll have to wait a little longer for the full-on AMG package, previewed by the A45 AMG hatchback in Europe.
Inside, the CLA boasts the same levels of refinement found across its current lineup, and while you might think the cabin is a bit cramped – especially in the back – that isn’t the case. No, those rear seats aren’t what we’d call capacious (our apologies to taller passengers), but they aren’t all that bad. And regardless, the interior is a comfy, cushy place.
Mercedes-Benz is hoping to attract a whole host of new buyers with the CLA-Class – people who would never have considered shopping the luxury automaker in the past. If the early accomplishments of the A-Class overseas are any indication (Mercedes-Benz says its launch of the A-Class was one of the most successful in the company’s history), then perhaps this same magic can happen in the States with the CLA. And with pricing expected to fall around $30,000, that might not be too far-fetched of a thought.