When Mercedes-Benz introduced the CLA, it changed a lot of things for the brand. By offering an affordable compact car, the vehicle expanded the customer base significantly, and the CLA is one of the most popular cars in the small luxury segment.
A new model is on the way, but we’ve kind of driven it already. The new A-Class hatchback that we drove a few months ago will be offered in Canada (but the U.S. will get the sedan version) and is the foundation of Mercedes’ compact vehicles. That means many of the shiny new elements found in the A-Class should be found on the next-generation Mercedes CLA, too. Here’s what the A-Class previews in an upcoming CLA.
What to Expect in the Next-Generation Mercedes CLA
That is if it still will be called the CLA. Following the reveal of the A-Class, Mercedes also debuted an A-Class Sedan Concept that featured the easy-to-like design of the outgoing CLA. It is possible that Mercedes will keep the CLA name going on though, since the nameplate was such a success, and brought in many new customers. Rounding out that speculation, Mercedes says it has five compacts currently available (A-Class, B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake, and GLA) and are looking to expand to a total of eight. It’s possible we can see the A-Class Sedan in that list, as well as a GLA Coupe and a bigger crossover based on the B Class — a GLB if you will.
The Mercedes compact lineup has done wonders to boost sales and improve the brand’s market share while also introducing the brand to a younger demographic. Now the vehicle is acting as a reverse halo vehicle as sorts, with new and impressive technology being available on an entry-level vehicle before it can be found on other more expensive products.
In this case, it’s the MBUX infotainment system, which is really interesting. It’s much prettier and simpler to use than the outgoing COMAND system and features a unique digital assistant that’s not far from what you’d get with Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. By saying “Hey Mercedes” you can tell the infotainment system to do something like set a navigation or change the temperature. Beyond that, there are no set commands to follow, just use natural speech. And furthermore, the results can be influenced by internet search engines like Yelp, so it can respond when you ask for the best restaurants in an area. The voice commands also allow you to change elements in the car, like turn on the heated seats, open/close the windows or change the ambient lights.
The current A-Class will come to Canada with an updated 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It now makes 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, representing a boost of 13 ponies. The engine has new features including a new variable cam timing system.
The CLA was always offered with two engines, the mainstream 2.0-liter, which will likely get the same updates the A-Class receives, and a bonkers AMG motor, which was truly special.
See Also: 2019 Mercedes A-Class Review and Video
Two AMG models?
So far, no new AMG compact has been announced, but rumors have been flying that the next-generation Mercedes CLA will be offered in two AMG trims, much like every other Mercedes product.
One of the more frustrating aspects of the old CLA was its transmission. The seven-speed dual clutch was clumsy and slow. The unrefined gearbox was a lowlight of the vehicle but has since been updated to be smoother and less intrusive.
The CLA was also offered in front and all-wheel drive, and its expected to keep those options in the next iteration. The all-wheel-drive system will be improved with an electro-mechanically operated multi-plate clutch for the rear differential, instead of an electro-hydraulic unit. In the A-Class, the rear axle is powered upon take off from a start, before the system transitions the power to the front wheels until needed.
The CLA was also criticized for having a choppy ride, and this too should be addressed as seen in the A-Class. In the hatchback, the automaker mounts the rear axle to a subframe which is isolated from the bodyshell by rubber bushings. This results in reduced noise and vibrations, which makes a big difference in comparison to the outgoing Mercedes compacts.
The CLA was a hit because it looked like a baby CLS. It was good looking and eye-catching. However, the interior was criticized as being a bit low grade. The A-Class fixes things up a bit, with a newer looking interior that isn’t far from the new design language found in the big-daddy G-Class. The materials are improved over the first CLA-Class, and that’s a good thing for those looking for a real Mercedes with a low cost.
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