Redesigned 2020 CLA promises big step up in style and sophistication
Ultra-popular CLA should find even larger fan base when fall update arrives
The innovative CLA is a success story like few others in Canada’s compact luxury market segment, having vied for the top sales spot in its class since inception, so therefore when an entirely new redesigned version arrives later this year it should enjoy even greater success.
“With the first CLA we celebrated a huge success by selling some 750,000 vehicles and created a totally new segment with a four-door coupe in the compact class,” says Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Marketing & Sales. “The new CLA is even more emotional and sportier than its predecessor. Coupled with new operating systems, it sets a new benchmark for the entire class.”
Extensive redesign makes stylish CLA look even better
No matter which angle it’s viewed from, the new CLA comes across as more sophisticated and more substantive than its predecessor, which nevertheless still looks plenty attractive despite its six-year tenure. The new model starts off with an almost menacing looking forward-slanting sport grille that Mercedes says is “reminiscent of a shark’s nose” in the official press release, while the sculpted “powerdome” enhanced hood is now longer for a more classic grand touring car presence, made to look even more like a traditional GT by pushing the passenger compartment farther rearward.
Additional highlights include greater complexity from the new angular LED Multibeam headlights, which come infused with 18 individually-controllable LED elements apiece, while the taillights include unique signature LEDs and a completely reworked lens design and placement, spreading wider and positioned higher on the CLA’s backside for a broader appearance and more athletic stance from behind.
Additionally, some nice intricate detailing can be found on the front and rear aprons, the latter just below a completely redesigned more rectangular shaped trunk lid, while each side sports additional muscle for a stronger, more masculine look, which amazingly is more aerodynamic as well, resulting in a shockingly good 0.23 coefficient of drag.
“As a four-door coupe, the new CLA intrigues with its puristic, seductive design and sets new standards in the design DNA of ‘sensual purity’. It impresses with its perfect proportions reflecting the first design sketch: a long, stretched hood, a compact greenhouse, a wide track with exposed wheel arches and our typical GT rear with a strong distinctive ‘Coke-bottle shoulder’,” says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer of Daimler AG. “In short, the CLA Coupe has the potential to become a modern design icon.”
New widescreen digital dash makes all challengers look passé
Respecting the younger buyer this CLA normally attracts, the new version looks even sportier and more dramatic on the inside, especially if you’re into bright, bold accent colours and high-end, big screen tablets. No doubt Mercedes will offer varied interior design themes, some sporty like the CLA 250 example shown in photos here, and some classy as with the previous generation, but the fixed-freestanding gauge cluster and infotainment widescreen display, which first arrived on the larger E-Class and more recently with the previously noted A-Class, is as modern and advanced looking as instrument panels get.
Framing the new digital gauge cluster is a sharp-looking leather-clad flat-bottom sport steering wheel with attached paddle-shifters, mirrored on the dash by gorgeous circular silver and orange turbine-like heating and ventilation ducts, these controlled by a beautifully thin and stylish dual-zone HVAC interface at dash-central, which hovers above a lovely floating console, this incorporating Mercedes’ reworked infotainment touchpad that thankfully still includes a trademark palm-rest.
The new touchpad controls the MBUX system atop the dash, which includes higher than average resolution for this class, plus customizable displays and an ultra-fast operating system backed up by robust computing power, all the better for managing new Augmented Reality navigation, not to mention an advanced voice activation system capable of learning and responding to natural speech.
Voice recognition with real intelligence
Fabulous news to all who have struggled with any previous voice recognition system, Mercedes-Benz’ new voice assistant only needs an occupant to say “Hey Mercedes” followed by a less direct question than required before in order to prompt any one of many functions. Additionally, the new system is so intelligent it picks out the questioners voice over others that may be conversing separately in the car.
“The latest version of voice control for MBUX – the Mercedes-Benz User Experience – can be experienced in the new CLA. For example, the voice assistant ‘Hey Mercedes’ is able to recognize and answer considerably more complex queries,” said Sajjad Khan, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars for CASE and Head of Digital Vehicle & Mobility. “What’s more, the voice assistance no longer gets confused by other passenger’s conversations. Instead it only responds to the commands of the person who last said ‘Hey Mercedes’ to activate the system.”
According to a press release, the new voice assistant can recognize and respond to more complex questions than previous-generation voice recognition systems, with Mercedes’ example, “Find Italian restaurants with at least four stars that are open for lunch but exclude pizza shops,” making this reality abundantly clear.
MBUX also responds to a greater range of subject matter, with “Hey Mercedes, How did the Canucks play?” being a likely sports query in Vancouver, or for those more interested in the stock market, “How has the Apple share price performed compared to Microsoft?” The voice assistant can also perform mathematical calculations such as “What is the square roof of 9?” Likewise, those interested in general knowledge questions such as “How big is BC compared to Texas?” or “What is the fat content of avocados?” can ask the new MBUX voice assistant for help too.
Larger and more accommodating than before
Accommodating our inquiring minds isn’t the only improvement built into the new CLA, because Mercedes has also made the entire car more accommodating via slightly larger dimensions. When it arrives later this year, the new model will lengthen by 48 millimetres to 4,688 mm, while its wheelbase will grow by 30 mm to 2,729 mm. Even more noticeable will be its increased width, up by 53 mm to 1,830 mm (not including the side mirrors), while it’s roof height is 2 mm lower at 1,439 mm.
As for how those exterior changes affect CLA occupants, the driver and front passenger will benefit from 17 mm of additional headroom, while those in back receive another 3 mm of overhead space despite the lower roofline. The extra exterior width makes an even greater difference, however, with the new CLA’s shoulder room widened by 9 and 22 mm front to back, plus front to rear elbow room up by 35 and 44 mm respectively, while legroom in both compartments stays about the same.
The CLA’s trunk remains huge at 460 litres, but even better is a lid opening that widens by a whopping 262 mm, making it much easier to stow larger items, while also positive the cargo compartment’s load floor grows wider by 113 mm, plus is now 24 mm deeper than it used to be.
Expect better performance from Mercedes’ highly efficient 2.0-litre turbo four
When the new CLA goes on sale it will receive Mercedes’ well-proven 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, albeit updated to new A-Class specification. In that all-new model it now makes a spirited 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, which is a 13-horsepower increase over the outgoing engine. Available in front- and 4MATIC all-wheel drive trains, all CLA 250 models will use Mercedes’ in-house developed and produced 7G-DCT twin-clutch automatic transmission, which has long provided ultra-smooth shifts yet sporty, engaging performance when called upon.
Although not yet announced, an AMG version is expected soon after the base CLA 250 is made available, with performance probably matching or exceeding the current AMG CLA 45 4MATIC model’s 375 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.
As you may have already assumed by the new model’s increased width, a substantially wider 63 mm of front track and 55 mm of additional rear track will aid high-speed handling, while the 2020 CLA also provides a lower centre of gravity for even more appealing dynamics. Mercedes’ will include its Direct-Steer system plus front hydromounts too, while a decoupled multi-link axle in back will go far to keep the rear tires glued to asphalt while reducing noise, vibration and harshness. Lastly, a larger set of stabilizer bars will certainly maintain a more horizontal stance when pushed hard through corners, no matter whether opting for optional 225/40R19 tires or sticking with the standard 225/45R18s.
Advanced driver assistance and safety systems integrated into new CLA
As with each new Mercedes-Benz model, the latest advanced driver assistance features are important for enhancing drivability and safety, so therefore the new CLA will come standard with Active Brake Assist and more, plus will also offer an Intelligent Drive Package featuring Active Lane Keep Assist and Pre-Safe Plus, the latter including rear traffic warning and an automatic reverse braking system. Even better, that Intelligent Drive Package incorporates a feature that can autonomously drive the new CLA with “cooperative driver support” under certain circumstances.
The redesigned 2020 CLA will no doubt be a popular addition to the compact luxury class when it arrives at Mercedes-Benz Langley this autumn. By that time we’ll also have the new A-Class Sedan available from just $34,990, while you can already call us at (604) 533-1205, or come by the showroom in person at 20801 Langley Bypass, Langley, to learn about the new A-Class Hatchback that includes the fabulous new MBUX digital display too, plus some other features noted here in this CLA overview.
Also, you can learn more about the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA by watching the six videos below:
Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019): World Premiere | Trailer (1:21):
Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019) World Premiere at CES in Las Vegas | Re-Live (18:40):
Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019) World Premiere at CES | Highlights (1:50):
Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019): The Design (1:06):
Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019) and Jan Frodeno: In the Wind Tunnel (1:41):
Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019): Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) (1:03):
Story credit: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz