LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Last year, Mercedes-Benz introduced its new MBUX interface at CES in Las Vegas and this year the German carmaker chose to have the world premiere of the second-generation CLA compact four-door coupe at the same venue. The fact that Mercedes-Benz chose CES and not a traditional auto show, such as Detroit which takes place next week, says a lot about the sweeping changes now occurring in the auto industry.
With regards to styling, the new CLA bears a strong resemblance to the outgoing model, as it still features frameless windows and a sloping rear end, but the car gets new headlights as well as a new grille. It is also slightly bigger and roomier with a longer wheelbase than the first-generation CLA. So it’s very much an evolution rather than a revolution from an exterior design perspective.
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MBUX with Brand New Tech
Inside the cabin is where the most changes have occurred as the new CLA gets the most recent MBUX infotainment system, recently introduced in the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. There’s a pair of 10.25-inch screens, the first one replacing the conventional instrument cluster while the second acts as an interface for the infotainment system, along with a large touchpad. The overall look is very clean and very high-tech and the CLA also gets some more elaborate design touches, which give the cabin a more luxurious feel than the A-Class, even though both cars share the same centre stack.
Your Assistant is Waiting…
New for the CLA is what Mercedes-Benz calls the Interior Assistant, which is best described as a gesture control system, allowing the driver to turn on various systems with a simple motion of the hand. As an example, if the driver reaches over to the passenger seat or the glove box while driving at night, the Interior Assistant will automatically switch on the overhead lighting in the cabin and will switch it off when the driver returns his right hand to the steering wheel. No more fumbling in the dark for the overhead light switch as you drive.
AMG CLA 35 and AMG CLA 45 on Approach
AMG variants of the CLA are also expected shortly as prototypes of the CLA 35 and CLA 45 have recently been spied during testing. The CLA 35 should get a 300-horsepower version of the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, while the CLA 45 could pack as much as 400 horsepower under the hood and, according to rumours, feature an electronically-controlled drift mode. This top-of-the-line CLA will become a direct competitor to the Audi RS 3 and to the rumoured BMW M2 Gran Coupe, as German carmakers continue to fight in every possible automotive segment. Good for them…
With the new CLA, Mercedes-Benz has developed a new vehicle, which is largely based on the recent A-Class, but features more evocative styling. In this respect the symbiotic relationship between the A-Class and the CLA is highly reminiscent of the E-Class and CLS, albeit in a smaller size.