S-Class tech, CLS-Class looks, Middle-Class price
Mercedes-Benz revealed today at the Consumer Electronics Show its latest swoopy four-door, the longer, wider, techier 2020 CLA-Class.
If you were imagining the new A-Class sedan with a cascading roofline, give yourself a gold star. Bonus points if you predicted new headlights and taillights. Mercedes claims the aerodynamics have improved notably but has not yet released any drag or fuel economy numbers. The aero will need to be good because the new car is 2 inches wider and nearly 2 inches longer, and it rides on an inch-longer wheelbase than the current CLA.
Otherwise, the new CLA-Class is very, very similar to the A-Class sedan first shown last summer, inside and out. Not that that’s a bad thing. The new A-Class is chock-full of S-Class technology at a median household income price, and now the sleeker CLA-Class is, too. Mercedes-Benz is particularly proud of its latest MBUX dashboard and infotainment system that’s proliferating across the lineup. You’ll recognize it from the dual-screen dashboard (7.0-inch screens standard, 10.3-inch screens optional), and it’ll recognize you thanks to gesture-based controls and a voice-controlled digital assistant that responds to “Hey Mercedes.” Mercedes claims the software has been updated continually since its debut; however, after driving the new GLE-Class with the same system just two months ago, we think it’ll need a few more updates.
That said, we do think the system’s ability to tell which person is reaching for the screen or the touch pad and respond appropriately is pretty neat, as is its ability to recognize a driver leaning over to grab something in an empty front passenger seat in the dark and turn on the passenger’s map light.
We’re more enamored with the better-established technologies, like those found in the optional Driver Assistance package. They include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring that will prevent you from changing lanes if it’s not clear, lane keeping assistance, collision warning and automatic emergency braking, Pre-Safe pre-collision countermeasures, and Active Steering Assist, which keeps you centered in the lane and help steer around gentle corners.
If you really want to turn your $34,000 USD car into a $50,000 USD car, though, there’s plenty more where that came from. Active LED headlights (fixed LED units are standard), a 360-degree camera system, heated and cooled front seats, keyless entry and starting, a head-up display, active dampers, wireless phone charging, and even massaging front seats are available.
If that’s not enough, there’s always the AMG line with its sporty looks, 19-inch wheels (18s are standard), a special Night Edition, and of course a soon-to-come Mercedes-AMG CLA.
Until the inevitable AMG model arrives with its rumored monster motor, the standard CLA 250 will get by with an enhanced version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder you’re familiar with. The enhancement is minor at just 13 hp, but no need to look a gift horse in the mouth. All 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque will continue to be managed by a seven-speed twin-clutch transmission that will drive the front or all four wheels.
Mercedes-Benz hasn’t released pricing yet, but we expect it to climb slightly from today’s $34,000 USD base on account of all that new tech. We’ll find out closer to the CLA’s on-sale date late this year.