The new Mercedes-Benz CLA four-door coupé, a successor to a model widely regarded as a design icon when first introduced here six years ago, has arrived on the Irish market.
Destined to be a flag-bearer for Mercedes-Benz’s increasingly popular ‘new generation compact cars’, the arrival of the new CLA, with its even more grown-up appearance, sees the model move up a notch to a new higher position within the luxury carmaker’s competitive chain, leaving space into which the new A-Class saloon will move.
As Ciaran Allen, sales manager in Ireland, says: “The arrival of the CLA adds to the cross-generational appeal of Mercedes-Benz, creating what many have come to think of as ‘generation Benz’ – style-conscious young male and female drivers for whom design, technology and motoring enjoyment are among life’s great pleasures.
“With the new CLA, we expect to be even more successful in attracting this generation and, in this way, build a strong presence for Mercedes-Benz beyond its traditional base in an ever-growing segment of the market that was previously the preserve of others,” Allen added.
With design norms that echo those of its range-topping siblings, particularly the CLS, the new CLA is fully equipped with high-tech driver assistance features that combine with new design elements and subtle body detailing. The interior also gives us a fresh new appeal while preserving all of its original allure.
A low-slung, coupé-like body with front diamond patterned grille and bold central star, point to its sporty character – an effect accentuated by subtle power domes, a wider track, flared arches and set back position of the passenger area. At the rear, design changes to its bumper and tail lamps give an added sense of width.
Changes are especially evident inside as high-tech enhancements and eye-catching design elements predominate. Interior architecture is shaped by the avant-garde design of the dashboard. Departing from the cowl-like cover that normally shields the dials and gauges, designers have taken a fresh approach to the way dials are displayed with a dashboard design that extends from door to door with no visual break.
Another arresting feature is the wide screen on which infotainment commands and controls are relayed which appears to float, visually detached in a freestanding way.
The CLA comes on the market with a broad range of petrol and diesel engines. Initially there will be four petrol and one diesel versions available, with further diesels models to follow.
All available in three design lines: Style, Progressive and AMG, the most popular models here will be a 180 petrol version priced from €34,110 (with annual road tax of €270 ) and a 180d automatic version priced from €37,300 (with an annual road tax €180 ) - both of which are available from this month.
Noting Mercedes-Benz’s commitment to what it calls "highly intelligent" in-car technology that is "revolutionising" car operation and communications, the CLA will appeal to all who appreciate the assistance and convenience it brings.
Crammed with computer-managed infotainment and assistance systems, it comes with a suite of features that includes full-colour displays, navigation and augmented reality aids, voice activated controls, and software that can actually learn what the driver’s needs may be.
Available as options for those with a technological leaning are three different technology packs – Advantage Pack, Premium Pack and a Premium Plus Pack.
Standard is the acclaimed MBUX user experience system and the voice-activated ‘Hey Mercedes’ driver assistance system. New with MBUX are interior functions such as seat adjustment and the operation of the reading lamp and interior light that can be carried out by non-contact hand movements, in daylight and in darkness.
CLA ranks highly in terms of vehicle safety. Standard features that include some introduced in S-Class models include enhanced brake assist, emergency stop, lane change assist and numerous other support packages, supplemented by the availability of optional offerings. In certain situations, it can drive semi-autonomously using map and navigation data for guidance. As standard, it comes with halogen headlamps with integrated LED daytime driving lamps. LED tail lights are also an available option.
Compared to its predecessor, it is 48mm longer, 53mm wider with a wheelbase extended by 30mm. Height is reduced by 2mm. Drag coefficient is a low 0.23. Its lower centre of gravity and wider track - plus 63mm front and 55mm rear – give it the sportiest driving characteristics of all models in the new generation of Mercedes-Benz compact cars.
A multi-link axle at the rear reduces noise and vibration while a larger diameter stabiliser bar reduces body roll. A direct-steer system is standard. An active adaptive damping system that allows the driver to choose between comfort and a more uncompromising sporty tuning is available as an option.
With higher specifications, competitive pricing, and much more appealing designs, combined with better drivability, the new Mercedes-Benz compact cars are attracting many more younger female and male buyers, as well as the young at heart. The new CLA will speed up this growing trend.