Bearing a striking and most-welcome resemblance to the Concept Style Coupe the automaker presented at the Avant/Garde Diaries festival in Los Angeles last April, the production 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class made a semi-covert appearance in conjunction with the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. Although not on public view, this newest family-member-to-be was presented to members of the press at an off-site reveal. Dubbed by Mercedes as "The Style Rebel," it goes on sale this fall in front-drive form as the CLA250 with an all-wheel-drive CLA250 4Matic version to follow in the spring.
Like its one-off precursor, the new CLA-Class is a slick sedan wrapped in coupe's clothing. However, unlike M-B's larger CLS-Class that pioneered this design approach, bolder front/rear fascia treatments, more aggressive lighting elements and edgier body contours endow the new CLA-Class with a decidedly more youthful and dynamic character - features Mercedes hopes will have it strike a resonant chord with individuals who never before even wanted to drive one of its cars.
Despite its high-profile appearance, meticulous aero-optimization efforts including extensive underbody fairings and wind-cheating wheels help trim the drag coefficient of the new CLA-Class low -- to an industry leading 0.23. For those seeking even more visual punch, the standard 17-inch wheel/run-flat tire fitment can be upped to an 18-inch AMG-spec rim via an available Sport Package that also brings drilled front brake rotors and unique Sport body bits.
That car's athletically elegant exterior character is also reflected in its well-finished passenger cabin that offers comfortable seating for five helped by a 106.3-inch wheelbase. Highlighting the long list of CLA-Class standards are a color instrument display, leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel with shifter paddles, M-B-Tex upholstery, a 5.8-inch center display screen and unified controller, the mbrace2 "always on" In-Vehicle Technology Suite and Bluetooth as well as a full range of power assists. The standard Anthracite accent trim can be replaced by Burl Walnut or Black Ash wood and buyers also can opt for real leather. Among the host of other upline CLA-Class extras are a Panorama glass roof, COMAND telematics package with a 7.0-inch display, Sirius XM Traffic/Weather, dual-zone climate control, rearview camera, hard-drive-based navigation and a harman/kardon Logic7 Surround sound audio. The new CLA-Class also will be the first production model to offer full factory integration of Apple's Siri voice-activated assist functionality.
Both the 2014 CLA250 and CLA250 4Matic are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged/direct-injected 4-cylinder engine with ECO start/stop that develops 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of peak torque, the latter from 1,250-4,000 rpm. Sole shifter is a 7-speed DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) automatic. The CLA's all-new 4Matic package - the first designed for use with a transverse-engine installation - is smaller, lighter and more efficient than competitor's systems. All models are fitted with a standard sport-tuned suspension that features a precise, energy-efficient electromechanical power steering system.
Like every Mercedes-Benz, the CLA-Class will come with a bounty of standard safety features including Collision Prevention Assist and Attention Assist along with front/front-side/side-impact/knee airbags.
A Driver Assistance Package adds Distronic adaptive cruise/distance- keeping control, Lane Keeping Assist and Blind Spot Assist, while the latter feature -- along with Parktronic with Advance Parking Assist -- can be had on an individual basis.
Pricing for the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 and CLA4Matic will be announced during Super Bowl XLVII on February 3rd. And expect to hear news that even more versions of this coupe-like crusader will be joining the family at some point, including a full-on AMG variant.
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