What is it? The new CLA is a compact, front-wheel-drive sedan that is based on the A-Class hatchback, which has been sold in Europe in various versions since 1997.
Though it’s a step down in size and price from the nice C-Class line, the CLA is not a tiny city Car (think SMART car), but, instead, is a properly proportioned compact sedan designed to look like a sporty coupe. In fact, this one is designed to look a lot like the $75,000-plus CLS. The first version we’ll see, the CLA250, is said to start at around $30,000.
Power comes from a new 208-hp 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine and seven-speed automatic, similar to the powertrain in the base C250, which we found exceptionally smooth when we tested it last year.
For people who rebel at the concept of a front-wheel-drive Mercedes, there will be an all-wheel drive 4Matic version for about $3,000 more. No doubt purists won’t be satisfied with that, either.
The interior looks upscale and trim, with black wood and walnut accents. The CLA is definitely a try before you buy proposition since the cabin will no doubt be tight for some
Prices haven’t been announced but we’d estimate they’ll hover in the low to mid $30s when moderately well equipped. Right now it looks like the CLA250 will arrive this coming fall alongside the A-Class hatchback.
What's new or notable? Front-wheel drive and Mercedes-Benz aren’t usually spoken together when talking about US-market M-Bs.
CR's take: With nothing to take on the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series, it makes sense for Mercedes to bring over the CLA sedan with the A-Class hatchback. After all, hatchbacks are still accepted only by the die-hard purists in the U.S.
When will it be available? Fall 2013.