With the admission of the second-generation Mercedes-Benz CLA at the CES technology appearance in Las Vegas beforehand this week, one of the better questions in our minds was, “What’s the point of the new CLA now that the A-class auto exists?” Both cars are betrunked four-door compacts that ride on the aforementioned platform, use the aforementioned powertrain, and accept about identical interiors with abounding of the aforementioned options and features. Yes, the CLA is marketed as a “four-door coupe” with a swoopier roofline and added advancing styling, but is it absolutely altered abundant from the A-class to accreditation its existence?
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There are a few differences that are actual by comparing the blueprint sheets. At 184.6 inches continued and 72.0 inches wide, the new CLA is 5.5 inches best and 1.3 inches added than the A-class. It’s additionally hardly beneath in acme acknowledgment to that angled roofline. The CLA comes alone in CLA250 form, with a 221-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, while the A-class is accessible alone in 188-hp A220 form. The CLA additionally receives altered suspension, steering, and stability-control tuning, But to many—including some at the C/D office—the CLA and A-class are still too similar. So to absolutely accept Mercedes’ cerebration abaft the two cars, we sat bottomward with Gorden Wagener, Daimler’s arch of design, to accretion some acumen into the CLA’s architecture process.
We asked Wagener about his number-one ambition in designing the new CLA, and his acknowledgment stemmed from the antecedent car. He says that the first-gen CLA was “a accurate architecture figure car,” one that is actual important from a cast angle as he says it helped angry Mercedes from “a acceptable affluence aggregation to a avant-garde affluence company.” Around 80 percent of CLA barter were new to the brand, with a abundant adolescent boilerplate age than buyers of any added Mercedes model. He went on to say that the aboriginal CLA “looked like a architecture sketch,” with abstract proportions, big wheels, and a aerial beltline. With the new belvedere and added length, Mercedes was able to accumulate the ability of the CLA and about-face aggregate up a few notches for the new generation. Wagener says his aggregation adhered to Benz’s new “sensual purity” architecture philosophy, abstraction the car application alone ablaze and adumbration instead of the countless curve and creases of the old car. “It’s added like a animal body,” he said of the new CLA’s surfacing, “so I anticipate it’s a accurate apotheosis of sexiness, in a animal way—what we bodies anticipate is attractive. A car like the CLA charge be sexy, and this car is.”
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We again asked how he went about appropriate the CLA and A-class auto so the two accept their own audible personalities, and Wagener replied, “The A-class auto is a added boilerplate car, so it’s added rational in agreement of functionality. The CLA is abundant added irrational.” He credibility out that the two cars are actual altered back you see them abutting to anniversary other, and afterwards seeing the new CLA in person, we’re absorbed to agree.
“It’s tighter, it’s lower, it’s alike added alive in the accent and the graphics. It’s like back you analyze an E-class and a CLS,” said Wagener. “The new CLA is like a four-door sports car, alike added than the accepted one, with some DNA from the CLS, but it’s alike added like the new AMG GT 4-Door.”
When it comes to the interior, Wagener said that “the bulk of luxury, the quality, the agreeable is two classes up back compared to the competition,” and that the A-class’s autogenous didn’t charge to change abundant to still fit with the CLA’s character. “I anticipate this is a big accomplishment that we were able to put so abundant agreeable in there and blanket it in such a nice way.”
“My ambition as arch of architecture is to accomplish Mercedes the best admired company.”
We again asked if there is a specific architecture affection on the CLA that is his admired affair about the car, alive that is about absurd for a artist to answer. Wagener said: “For me it’s consistently the accomplished thing, and which role it plays on the chessboard of our absolute portfolio. My ambition as arch of architecture is to accomplish Mercedes the best admired company, and I anticipate the CLA and A-class auto will advice in that way, because they are bringing a new bearing to the brand—and as we accept the best adherence with our brand, they break with us and upgrade, so the CLA is a accurate cast shaper.” He concluded by saying, “And besides, I am blessed as a artist that we can do such design-related cars, because the CLA is aloof authentic design.” With added than 750,000 CLAs awash back its birth in 2013, sometimes it pays to be irrational.
Finally, we asked about the achievability of the not-for-the-U.S. CLA Shooting Brake accepting a additional generation. Wagener said that the accepted Shooting Brake archetypal is actual acknowledged in Europe and China. He adds that, alike added than the approved CLA, “it’s a actual designer’s car, a actual aberrant car. And it offers a lot of amplitude alike if it doesn’t attending like it would.” Ending with a smile, he says: “So acceptable affidavit to abide that, let’s see.”
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