Mercedes-Benz CLA pic 1 infographic
Picture shows Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Edition 1, (C117), press photo, do not use for advertising purposes. MUST CREDIT Mercedes-Benz Cars. The new CLA which will go on display at the Geneva auto show on March 5.


Mercedes-Benz CLA pic 1

By Duncan Mil

March 5, 2013 - With front-wheel drive, radar-based safety systems, technology that smooths out cornering, and a big star on the grill, the new Mercedes-Benz CLA takes the luxury brand into the upper mass market.

Mercedes Benz will unveil its new CLA compact four-door saloon at the annual Geneva Car Show, aimed at winning sales from young buyers who value computer connectivity as much as the cars themselves.

The CLA is a new breed of small Mercedes based on the latest A-class, designed to be eye-catching, sexy and fast as well as smart-phone friendly, in contrast to its previous efforts in this category which were utilitarian, virtuous and anonymous. The CLA should finally allow Mercedes to compete with sector leaders like the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3.

The Geneva Car Show opens as the financially crippled European industry hits 20-year sales lows and potential buyers of new cars are in the grip of economic recession. It seems the well-off are managing to avoid economic hard times if the number of new, pricey, super-cars is anything to go by. The 6.2 litre 450hp V8 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible takes a first bow, along with the Rolls Royce Wraith, Bentley Flying Spur, and Ferrari F150 Enzo. The price of the Enzo is expected to start at 1 million euros, before tax. The 200 mph Flying Spur, a snip at 160,000 euros, is powered by a 6.0-litre, twin turbo, 616hp, W12 engine.

More down-market, the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo, a 3 series with a hatchback, will debut. Financially troubled Opel-Vauxhall unveils the Cascada convertible. Most interesting technically will be the Peugeot 2008 HybridAir, which uses compressed air power to back up the petrol engine, not electricity. The "cutest" title may go to the little Alfa Romeo 4C sports car. The rear-drive, two-seater 4C goes on sale later this year, and must lead the resurgence of Fiat's neglected sporty brand. Most dangerous to the ailing European manufacturers will be the Qoros compact petrol-electric hybrid saloon, built in China by a partnership of Chery and investment company Israel Corporation. The Qoros promises to undercut Europeans on price, but quality and safety questions remain. Earlier Chinese attempts to sell cars in Europe crashed and burned. Qoros sales in Europe start towards the end of this year.

Meanwhile back on the Mercedes stand, the new CLA's body is highly aerodynamic with a drag coefficient of only 0.22. Despite its four doors, Mercedes insists on calling it a coupe. The design makes it look like a scaled down version of the Mercedes CLS, itself an attempt to make the worthy but dull mid-size E class saloon look a bit more trendy. CLA buyers can choose petrol engines from 1.6 litres and 122hp to 2.0 litres and 211hp. There are two diesel choices too, a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed auto box. The cars are packed with high technology equipment including radar-based collision prevention and attention-assist drowsiness detection. Pay a little more when the cars go on sale in April, and you can have Lane Tracking, automatic parking, or four-wheel drive. And naturally all models integrate Facebook and Twitter.

The Geneva Car Show opens to the public March 7-17.

Mercedes Benz CLA 180
Engine – 1.6 litre direct injection 4-cylinder petrol
Power – 122hp
Torque – 200 Nm
Drive – front-wheels
Gearbox – six-speed manual
Acceleration – 0-100km/h-62mph – 9.3 seconds
Top Speed – 210km/h-130mph
Fuel consumption – claimed combined – 5.4-l/km-52mpg
C02 – 126g/km
Emissions class – Euro V
Suspension – McPherson/independent multilink
Length – 4,630mm
Width – 1,777mm
Height – 1,437mm
Wheelbase – 2,699mm
Price 28,977 euros

PUBLISHED: 28/02/2013; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Daimler; Presse; press photo