A more angular front end hints at a sportier design ethos behind the new CLA
The successor to the first-generation CLA has been testing on public roads in Germany
Near-production-ready prototypes of the new Mercedes-Benz CLA have been spotted testing with minimal camouflage ahead of its 2019 unveiling.
Details of the small four-door coupé remain scarce, although a more angular front end and gently sloping bootlid suggest a close resemblance to the larger CLS grand tourer.
With the new CLA having previously been seen only in full camouflage, these latest photos reveal more of the production bodywork, suggesting an imminent reveal early next year.
A continuation of Mercedes’ so-called purity design lineage, the design of the second-generation CLA will replace the taut surfacing treatment and heavily etched swage lines of its predecessor.
At this stage, it is not known whether the new model will manage to match the outstanding aerodynamic efficiency of the original CLA, which holds the distinction of being the most aerodynamically efficient car ever placed into larger-scale production, with a drag coefficient of just 0.22 in CLA180 BlueEfficiency guise.
The rear doors, like those of the previously spotted shooting brake variant, appear longer than those of the outgoing model, hinting at improved rear leg room and easier entry and exit for passengers.
The new CLA and CLA Shooting Brake will be the fifth and sixth models to use Mercedes’ MFA2 platform, following on from the A-Class, A-Class saloon, long-wheelbase A-Class saloon and recently unveiled B-Class. It supports both front and four-wheel drive and is engineered to accommodate either a torsion beam or multi-link rear suspension.
Power for the new model will come from a range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, including a powered up version of Mercedes-Benz’s latest M260 petrol unit in a new four-wheel drive CLA35 4Matic and CLA35 4Matic Shooting Brake models from AMG.
A more highly tuned version of the M260 engine with over 400bhp will also be used to power range-topping CLA45 and CLA45 Shooting Brake models, according to Mercedes-AMG officials.
The exact timing of the CLA and CLA Shooting Brake’s unveiling is yet to be revealed, although Autocar understands the former is likely to make an appearance at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, with the latter expected to underpin the German car maker’s stand at the Geneva motor show next March.
Mercedes-Benz reveals ‘continued product offensive’ roadmap for 2019
Mercedes confirmed the planned introduction of the new CLA and CLA Shooting Brake, as well as an eighth compact model in the form of the GLB SUV, with the issuing of a so-called official product roadmap graphic.
The graphic, part of a presentation announcing the German car maker’s 2018 sales up to the end of September, pinpoints six cars that are set to be unveiled next year.
Details to the four-door CLA remain scarce, though recent prototypes caught it with a distinctly more sporting appearance than the recently unveiled A-class saloon, alongside which it is planned to be produced at Mercedes-Benz’s factory in Kecskemet Hungary, with greater tapering to its front end, a more heavily angled windscreen, greater curvature to its roofline, a shallower glasshouse with frameless doors and a more shapely rear end.
If the prototypes being tested by Mercedes-Benz are any guide, however, the 2019-model-year CLA will be quite a bit larger than its predecessor, with a longer wheelbase set to provide added length to the rear door apertures in a move aimed to ease entry to the rear along with improved rear legroom.
Even less clear is the look set to be adopted by the second-generation CLA Shooting Brake. Like its predecessor, though, it is rumoured to receive a heavily stylised appearance with a sloping roofline and heavily angled tailgate set to prioritise good looks ahead of ultimate load carrying capacity.
Together, the two models form part of a future eight-model-strong compact car line-up that will also include the new BMW X1 and Audi Q3 rivalling GLB SUV, which the Mercedes-Benz roadmap hints will be unveiled during the latter half of 2019, as well as a successor to the GLA set to be launched in 2020.
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