Mercedes-Benz will sit out the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, but that doesn’t mean it’s keeping quiet in the first half of the year. The German firm traveled to CES 2019 to introduce the second-generation CLA. It’s a fitting venue for a car that’s considerably more high-tech than its predecessor.
The CLA remains the design-led member of Mercedes’ growing family of compact cars. Stylists took its front end in a more aggressive direction by giving the headlights and the grille a more angular design. The rippled hood — a styling cue that helped the original CLA stand out — returns on the second-generation model. When viewed from the side, the CLA boasts a fastback-like roof line reminiscent of the third-generation CLS and frameless doors. The rear lights are also CLS-like. To us, the 2020 CLA looks more mature than its predecessor.
The new CLA stretches a little bit longer and wider than its predecessor, and it rides on a slightly longer wheelbase. Mercedes needed to increase the model’s footprint to avoid creating internal competition for its new all-star, the A-Class Sedan.
Inside, upmarket variants of the CLA benefit from the Mercedes-Benz User eXperience (MBUX) infotainment system displayed on a high-resolution, 10.25-inch touchscreen. This artificial intelligence-powered software adapts itself to individual users by learning their habits, whether it’s a phone call made at the same time on the same day every week or a route driven regularly. Natural voice recognition technology lets the passengers navigate the software’s various functions. They’re also able to use the touchscreen or a touchpad located on the center console.
The tech doesn’t stop at the screen. Mercedes added an automatic dome light that turns on when it detects a movement under it. The CLA will inaugurate this technology, but we expect it will spread across the rest of the Mercedes lineup in the coming years. Electronic driving aids like lane-keeping assist, speed limit assist, and blind spot assist are also available.
At launch, the lineup will include a single model named CLA 250. Power comes from a brand-new, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine turbocharged to deliver 221 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque from 1,800 to 4,000 rpm. Front-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission will come standard, and Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system will be offered at an extra cost. Performance specifications and fuel economy data aren’t available yet.
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA will begin arriving in showrooms in late 2019. Pricing information will be released in the weeks leading up to its on-sale date. Mercedes-AMG will add a midrange model to the catalog, and the full-fat CLA 45 will return with over 400 horsepower on tap from a turbo four.
Updated on January 8, 2019: Added full information about the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA.