Mercedes-Benz has confirmed its forthcoming 'baby CLS' will spawn an estate version to be called the CLA Shooting Brake.

The CLA is tipped to appear for the first time in full production guise at the Detroit motor show in January, before going into production in June 2013 for sale in the UK a few months later.

Inspired by the F800 Style concept of 2010, and previewed by the Concept Style Coupé at this year's Auto China show in Beijing, the Mercedes CLA is based on the front-wheel drive platform of the latest A-class.

Like that model, the new CLA will also be offered with the Mercedes-Benz 4Matic four-wheel drive system. Mercedes is citing the BMW 3-series as a dynamic benchmark for the CLA.

Availability of four-wheel drive paves the way for a CLA45 AMG model, which, like the imminent A45 AMG hot hatch, will be powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine. Power output is 349bhp, with 332lb ft of torque on tap.

Sources confirm that the A45 AMG will use a Haldex clutch to distribute torque between the front and rear axles, while the suspension is quite different from that of the regular A-class. It is expected that the CLA45 AMG will follow suit, though it has yet to be confirmed whether a manual gearbox will be offered alongside the dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Shane O'Donoghue