The second-generation four-door Mercedes-Benz CLA arrives with a sportier design and a beefier engine.
The new CLA, which debuted Tuesday at CES, will go on sale in the U.S. by late 2019. Pricing was not disclosed.
The 2020 CLA is based on Mercedes' next-generation Modular Front Architecture platform, or MFA2. It is equipped with a 2-liter, inline-four turbocharged engine that delivers 221 hp — 13 hp more than its predecessor. The CLA has a top speed of 130 mph.
The CLA, whose competitors include the BMW 2 series and Acura ILX, was launched in the U.S. in 2013, making it the first compact Mercedes-Benz available here.
The CLA was the only Mercedes sedan to see an increase in U.S. sales last year. The automaker sold 22,556 CLAs in 2018, an increase of 9.1 percent from the prior year.
The CLA is currently the only Mercedes-Benz passenger car that starts below the average price of a new car in the U.S, now more than $36,000, said Sam Fiorani, vice president at AutoForecast Solutions.
“While the more expensive C-Class and E-Class have been losing sales to the brand’s crossovers, the CLA remains relevant to buyers looking to get into their first luxury car,” Fiorani said.
This year, the CLA will be nudged out as Mercedes' "gateway" model in the U.S., following the launch of the A-class subcompact sedan.
“The CLA becomes the sportier alternative to the more upright A-Class sedan, just as the CLS is to the E-Class and the Coupe versions are to the GLE and GLC crossovers,” Fiorani said.
The retooled CLA, which features a stretched hood and wide track with exposed wheel arches, has sportier, fastback styling to set it apart from the A class.
With the car market shrinking in favor of crossovers and other light trucks, targeted niche products such as the near entry-luxury four-door coupe help draw new buyers for Mercedes-Benz, Fiorani said.
"Since sales of traditional two-door coupes have almost vanished, the four-door coupe design combines the practicality of a sedan with the faster back light of a two-door," Fiorani said.