New 2018 Mercedes CLA revealed – rejigged sibling to the A-class hatch

Next CLA offers CLS looks and A-class tech at a price somewhere between the two

Mercedes is following up the new A-class hatchback with the next-generation version of its CLA ‘four-door coupe’. That pigeonholing is important too, to avoid confusing the CLA with the A-class saloon, which has a larger cabin and a more traditional saloon silhouette where the CLA retains a more coupe-like profile.

Based on the same front-wheel-drive platform as the all-new A-class, the latest CLA is larger than its predecessor in almost all directions, sitting 48mm longer and 53mm wider, and just 2mm lower, for a more aggressive stance on the road. The previous CLA’s odd profile has been reformed, thanks to Mercedes’ designers moving the cabin marginally further back on the platform and lengthening the bonnet to make the model look longer, lower and more ‘premium’. Due to the availability of the more accommodating A-class saloon, the CLA’s cramped rear seats have not dramatically improved, with the only noticeable enhancement being the extra shoulder room, thanks to the wider body.

> Click here for our review of the new Mercedes-AMG A35

Although the new A-class’s front-end styling is almost identical to that of the larger CLS, the new CLA instead takes inspiration from the GT 4-door, with an aggressively raked central grille, and larger, more ornate headlights. From there back, though, you’d be hard pressed to tell it apart from the CLS, as the soft, gentle curves, pared-back surfacing and clean rear elements are details directly borrowed from the bigger CL model.

Elsewhere, the CLA clearly shows its A-class roots, with an identical interior design, highlighted with the latest MBUX infotainment system and optional augmented reality satnav. As in the hatch, the cabin is innovative and different, but heavily based around the (also optional) pair of 10.25-inch screens that appear to ‘rest’ upon a shelf in the dashboard.

The CLA’s chassis and powertrains are also shared with the A-class, including the marque’s new 1.33-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine and 2-litre turbo petrol and diesels. The standard CLA range will be topped by the CLA250, with a 222bhp turbocharged four-cylinder engine matched exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

The new CLA will also eventually be available in up to three AMG versions, including a CLA35 with a 302bhp version of the CLA250’s engine, and two CLA45s, a non-S and an S, with power outputs straddling either side of 400bhp – impressive for a series-production four-cylinder engine with normal service intervals.

Although the new CLA doesn’t ostensibly do anything the last one didn’t, the new A-class’s more substantial, if not particularly engaging chassis should make this second-generation CLA a better saloon, even if it does creep even closer to the bigger, rear-wheel-drive C-class that sits above it in the range. Launching in May this year, the CLA’s unveiling at the CES tech show says all you need to know about who exactly Mercedes is aiming this new model at.

Recommended

New Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Coupe 2020 review
Mercedes CLA

New Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Coupe 2020 review

Mercedes’ four-door CLA Coupe does little wrong, but its uncompetitive pricing means external and internal rivals leave it redundant
9 Apr 2020

Most Popular

Lotus Type 131 production confirmed for this year
Type 131 render
Lotus

Lotus Type 131 production confirmed for this year

All-new sports car to rival the iconic Porsche 911 and set the blueprint for Lotus's future models
25 Jan 2021
SSC Tuatara achieves 282.9mph average, faster than Koenigsegg’s Agera RS
SSC Tuatara
News

SSC Tuatara achieves 282.9mph average, faster than Koenigsegg’s Agera RS

It’s quite some way off 2020’s debunked 331mph claim, but 282.9mph is still enough to make the SSC Tuatara the world’s fastest production car, unoffic…
27 Jan 2021
Ferrari ‘Breadvan’ returns – Niels van Roij reveals 550-based homage
Niels Van Roij Design Breadvan hommage
Ferrari 550

Ferrari ‘Breadvan’ returns – Niels van Roij reveals 550-based homage

UK-based Niels van Roij Design has unveiled its take on the iconic 1962 racer, based on the Ferrari 550 Maranello
26 Jan 2021