Car News

Mercedes-Benz Reveals New CLA

Mercedes-Benz had just revealed the all-new CLA coupe. And to showcase just how much tech is in the second-generation of the car, they've done it not at a traditional auto show, but at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The first-generation CLA was one of the first vehicles to bring four-door "coupe" styling to the compact car market. As a result, "we celebrated a huge success by selling some 750,000 vehicles," said Mercedes-Benz AG board member Britta Seege. Mercedes-Benz Canada said that it brought in buyers new to the brand and seven years younger than its traditional buyer.

So it's no surprise that Canada will be getting the second-generation car when it arrives this fall. It offers styling that borrows greatly from the A-Class in the nose, with a unique middle section. At the rear are echoes of the AMG GT Four-Door coupe.

Interior styling is much like the A-Class, with large and prominent HVAC vents, and a standard widescreen cockpit that uses digital displays for infotainment and the dashboard.

Back to those tech features, though. Inside, the car will get the new MBUX voice-controlled infotainment system that first appeared in the new A-Class. It uses a virtual voice-controlled assistant to perform not just phone and media functions, but also help operate the climate control and other features.

For the new CLA, Mercedes-Benz is adding more commands, with increasing complexity. The example they give is "Find Italian restaurants with at least four stars that are open for lunch but exclude pizza shops." Which is more complex than most of my friends can manage to search to help plan lunch.

The automaker says the system can also distinguish between voices. So if your passengers try to talk over your commands, the system will only respond to the person who last said "Hey Mercedes" to activate it.

The CLA will also boast a full suite of active safety features, like Active Brake Assist as standard. It will also have lane keeping assist that can pull the car back in-lane at speeds up to 200 km/h. It does it not by steering, but by applying the brakes on the appropriate side of the car. Pre-Safe Plus will recognize an imminent rear-ending, and apply the brakes so the car doesn't roll forward during or after the collision. The Distronic radar-cruise can now see up to 500 metres down the road, and use the navigation system to expect things like bends and roundabouts. So if it thinks you've set the cruise too fast for that curve up ahead, it will slow down.

New Multibeam LED headlights are transferred down from the company's more expensive offerings. They allow electronically-controlled adjustment to fit different traffic situations. The 18 LED lights per headlight are individually controlled and have what M-B calls a daytime-like colour.

The CLA grows slightly on the outside, to help it grow on the inside. At 4,688 mm, it's 48 mm longer than before, and at 1,830 mm wide it's 53 mm wider. Though count the side mirrors and it's 33 mm narrower. That means that the extra width is mostly in the cabin. Elbow room is up 35 mm in the front and what should be a very usable 44 mm in the rear. Similarly, at 1,444 mm, the trunk width is up 113 mm, though total trunk space is down 10L to 460.

Extra width also means a wider track. Mercedes-Benz says the handling boost from that helps make it the sportiest of their new compacts. A larger anti-roll bar reduces roll, and there is a multi-link axle at the rear the company says reduces noise and vibration.

A new MBUX Interior Assistant adds gesture controls to the MBUX system. Things like reaching toward the reading lamp and it will turn on. Or if the driver leans over toward an empty front passenger seat in the dark it will light up. It will also activate specific sections of the touchpad and special screen menus based on gestures.

For example, reach for the massage seat adjustment, and the car knows the passenger is the one reaching. So it chooses the passenger-side controls. The interior assistant will be available in Canada, but only as a special order.

Mercedes-Benz says that the car will be available initially as the CLA 250. Expect that to be a 2.0L turbo four, similar to the A 250 model's 221 hp version. AMG versions will arrive by the end of the year. Expect pricing closer to the on-sale date this fall as well.