Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-class Photos Posted Early

Mercedes-Benz has high hopes for its upcoming compact CLA sedan. Based on the brand's new front-wheel-drive platform, it is a close relative of the third-generation A-class. The CLA's looks aren't a huge surprise, as it was previewed by the Concept Style Coupé, our spy photographers snapped a few shots of an undisguised CLA earlier in the year, and AMG posted pictures on its Facebook page of a camouflaged CLA45 AMG earlier this month. But here is the real thing after these photos hit AutoMonthly—and judging from the style of the photographs, we believe these are not press shots but photos from a sales brochure for the upcoming model.

Mercedes is taking a gamble with the expressive design of the CLA. To get some perspective, we got on the phone with Gernot Bracht, who teaches transportation design in Pforzheim, Germany. His opinion of the compact four-door is that it represents a design language in Germany that's become somewhat ambiguous.

"The CLA is clearly informed by Asian tastes, and it symbolizes yet another departure from the traditionally purist German approach to design," he says. "But this is becoming a trend, and in a way the CLA reminds me of Opel's approach with the new Adam." Bracht does not buy into Benz's insinuations that the CLA is a "small CLS," saying: "The upper character line drops down too early. It does not quite come together with the big trunk, which seems like an add-on. Altogether, the car is too short to carry all of these lines and graphics with grace." His conclusion: "Definitely not a typical Mercedes-Benz."

But perhaps that's exactly what Mercedes has tried to achieve, considering the CLA marks an aggressive move downmarket. In the U.S., the model targets a younger crowd than does the current lineup. As to what's below the skin, we'll have to wait for official information until mid-January. We already know that the CLA will be offered with 1.6- and 2.0-liter gasoline engines, as well as 1.8-liter and 2.1-liter diesel engines, all of them turbocharged and covering a wide power and performance range; we're not likely to see anything but the 2.0-liter and possibly the 2.1-liter diesel in the U.S. There could be an entry-level model using a Renault-sourced 1.5-liter turbo-diesel, and then there is the CLA45 AMG with around 350 hp. All-wheel drive will be standard on the AMG version and optional on select other models.

More information on Benz's CLA should become available in the coming weeks as the car's as-yet-unannounced debut date looms.

from Car and Driver Blog

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