VW readies a rival for Mercedes CLA

The NMC has ties to other recent VW models.

BEIJING -- Volkswagen's NMC concept all but makes its official: VW plans a sedan to challenge the Mercedes-Benz CLA.

The four-door concept unveiled at the Beijing auto show previews a Jetta-based model that will slot into the Volkswagen lineup beneath the existing Passat CC, most likely in 2016.

Volkswagen design boss Klaus Bischoff describes the NMC -- which stands for "New Midsize Coupe" -- as "avant-garde protagonist for a new compact sedan class."

The NMC continues the current Volkswagen design lineage, with crisp features and lines, horizontal detailing and taut surfacing meant to produce a technical-inspired appearance. Underpinning the sedan will be Volkswagen's versatile MQB platform structure.

A simple grille and LED headlamps span the front end, giving the new car clear family ties to other recent new VW models. To add to the sense of sportiness, designers took inspiration from the Volkswagen CC in giving the NMC a heavily curved roofline, frameless doors, and notchback-style rear.

The production version of the NMC is expected to be built in Puebla, Mexico, and at a joint venture factory in China.

You can reach Greg Kable at autonews@crain.com