Like it or not, the curvy four-door "coupe" introduced in 2013 became the banner for Mercedes-Benz entry-level luxury in the U.S. More than 750,000 CLA models were sold worldwide, including nearly 150,000 in the U.S.—the small car even made its way into car-sharing services in some cities.
Now, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class that was unveiled Tuesday at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas shifts away from its mission as the most affordable small car on dealer lots. (The new A-Class will be the most affordable Mercedes in the U.S. later this year.)
The new 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is a tech-heavy, style-centric sedan with a more potent turbo-4 and the automaker's latest infotainment system.
Mercedes didn't say how much the CLA-Class would cost when it goes on sale near the end of this year, but it's likely to be more than current CLA's base price of roughly $34,000.
When it arrives in the U.S., the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 will be equipped as standard with the automaker's MBUX infotainment system that offers personal assistant features, similar to home smart speaker or smartphone functions. The MBUX system connects to the internet via a built-in cellular connection (data sold separately) to offer search-related answers to questions like "Hey Mercedes: Who won the college football national championship last night?" or "Hey Mercedes: Are there any Indian restaurants near me?" The voice assistant also controls in-car functions such as climate control ("Hey Mercedes: Turn the heat up.") or navigation functions ("Hey Mercedes: Take me home.") without a data connection.
The base CLA250 will offer a pair of 7.0-inch screens; one for a digital instrument cluster; and the other for infotainment duties that's also a touchscreen with gesture controls. Mercedes will offer a pair of 10.3-inch screens as an optional upgrade.
The new CLA's body is nearly 2 inches wider and longer than its predecessor, though the rear-seat leg room is nearly identical to the outgoing model, which was already cramped.
A 2.0-liter turbo-4 will reside under the hood of the CLA250. It makes 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, up slightly from the last model's 208-hp turbo-4. The new CLA250 will use a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (like its predecessor) to drive its front wheels, or optionally, all four wheels. Expect high-performance AMG CLA 35 and CLA 45 models to come later.
2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Class, photo by Ronan Glon
The new CLA cribs many of its looks from the larger CLS, which is not a bad thing. The CLA rides atop the same structure as the A-Class, but offers a swoopier look and more expressive details, such as a more aggressive front bumper and more graceful rear doors that don't end as abruptly as those on the current model.
Inside, the new CLA-Class is a dead-ringer for the A-Class on which it's based. Like the A-Class, the CLA will offer a bevy of active safety systems but not many of them will be standard. Automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors will be spend-up extras, but Mercedes says that the CLA-Class will be able to drive itself "semi-autonomously in certain situations," though it didn't say for how long or what those situations may be.
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