At 4688mm long and 1830mm wide, the new CLA is 48mm longer and 53mm wider than its predecessor, and its 2729mm wheelbase has been extended by 30mm. Mercedes said this, along with the car’s lower centre of gravity, helps to ensure it has improved driving dynamics. The new CLA has also been honed in the wind tunnel to have a drag coefficient of 0.23, very close to the previous car’s 0.22 Cd despite a larger frontal area.
In its design, the new CLA has echoes of the A-Class and other recent new Mercedes, but with an elongated bonnet featuring a sharply raked nose, uniquely designed flat headlights and a prominent ‘powerdome’ on the bonnet. The sloping coupé roofline is emphasised by frameless doors. The rear of the car features narrow tail-lights designed to make the vehicle appear even wider.
The car’s larger dimensions have resulted in a more spacious interior, with 17mm of extra head room, although leg room remains broadly similar to the previous model’s and the boot has shrunk by 10 litres to 460 litres.
The CLA has the youngest average customers of all Mercedes models, so the firm has focused on a high-tech theme for the interior. The dashboard features a centrally mounted touchscreen and no cowl, with a ‘trench’ splitting out the lower section. It also has the newest version of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) system, including ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice recognition control.
A new interior assist system enables gesture control of certain functions and it is said the car can detect whether the driver or passenger is using the touchscreen and react accordingly. Gesturing towards the rear-view mirror can also control the reading light.
As with the A-Class, the CLA also receives driver assistance systems originally seen on the most recent S-Class, allowing the machine to drive semi-autonomously for the first time. The systems fitted include active brake, lane keeping and lane change assistance systems along with Pre-safe Plus, which can detect an imminent rear-end collision and prepare the car for it.