Mercedes CLA concept previews expanded compact line
Photo credit: MERCEDES-BENZ
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Small doesn't have to be dull and boxy.
That's the message Mercedes-Benz plans to pitch as it prepares to unveil the CLA Concept Style Coupe at the Beijing auto show. The concept will offer design hints for the new Mercedes-Benz A/B compact vehicles coming to U.S. showrooms in late 2013.
The luxury automaker previewed the CLA concept this week in Los Angeles and will provide a more detailed look in Beijing with the 2.0-liter, 208-hp, four-cylinder-powered Concept Style Coupe.
The coupe will be revealed in Beijing with a four-door body. Mercedes said it will be priced below the automaker's C class.
Mercedes parent Daimler AG has invested 1.4 billion euros ($1.9 billion) to build a new generation of compact premium cars in China, Hungary and Germany. Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said last month that the automaker will improve the profitability of its compact cars by expanding the lineup from two models -- the A class and B class -- to five cars and building significantly higher volumes.
The CLA represents new territory for Mercedes-Benz, a brand traditionally known for its spacious luxury sedans.
"The Concept Style Coupe is expressive and powerful in its design," Zetsche said in a statement. "We are staking our claim very clearly here. This is the model against which sporty vehicles in the executive segment will have to measure themselves in future."
The concept features a large gaping grille known to insiders as a soft-nose treatment, headlamps with LED graphics, frameless side windows, panoramic roof, integrated dual-flow exhaust system and interior design cues from the Concept A-Class, with carbon-fiber trim instrument panel, suede trim steering wheel, chrome trim, Command Online multimedia system and the ability to browse the Internet when the vehicle is stationary.
Daimler did not say when it will begin building the CLA, although press reports say production of the car will start at year end and that it will arrive in showrooms early next year.
Sources told Autoweek, an affiliate of Automotive News, that the CLA styling is largely faithful to the production version of the new sedan.
"Certain design elements have been subtly altered to lend a more powerful look for added presence on the show stand, but as a whole the exterior and interior reflect the true design of the car we will build at our new manufacturing plant in Kecskemet, Hungary," an unidentified source told Autoweek.
The Concept Style Coupe is expected to undergo mild styling changes before the CLA lands in showrooms, Autoweek reported.
The CLA sedan's luxury-brand rivals will include a sedan version of the third-generation Audi A3, due in 2013, and a new sedan version of the BMW 1 series that is undergoing conceptual development and an expected introduction in 2015, Autoweek reported.
Mercedes said it has so far received more than 100,000 orders for the B class since its launch in Europe in November 2011. The B class is built in Rastatt, Germany, and Kecskemet.
The new A class, which also will be assembled in Rastatt, will go on sale in Europe in September and is scheduled to arrive in the United States in 2014.
Autoweek contributed to this report
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