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All-New Mercedes-Benz CLA First Look Review at CES 2019

The CES 2019 was definitely full of exciting new showcases, launches, unveils and concepts both from the world of technology and automobiles. But, if we were to concentrate on the latter, one of the most exciting launches to take place was of the all-new Mercedes-Benz CLA, which also marks the first time that the new generation of MBUX infotainment system makes way into a series production car.

The previous generation of the Mercedes-Benz CLA proved to be massively successful for the company all over the world as they have sold over 7.5 lakh units until now. So, the new model has a lot to live up to.

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Starting off with the design, the new CLA retains the coupe roof line and looks rather nice, especially in flesh. The front section of the car is raked forward to give it a shark nose-like look and that coupled with the chiseled long bonnet and the large grille gives the car a sporty stance. At the back, the two-piece tail lamps and the dual exhausts add a bit of character. But it is from the sides where the car looks really good and that’s thanks to the sloping roof line which merges seamlessly into the boot. And also, the flared wheel arches look and the strong shoulder line makes the car look fantastic. But the reason behind this design language isn’t all for better aesthetics – it’s also to have a very low drag coefficient. For this, the designers spent a considerable amount of time in the wind tunnel in order to let the car have excellent aerodynamics.

And the good design continues on to the inside as well. Impressively, despite the sloping roofline, there’s enough headroom in the rear seats. But it is at the front where the car really shines. There is a sense of familiarity in the cabin and that’s thanks to the familiar steering wheel which gets touch-sensitive trackpads along with the steering mounted controls and the turbine-styled AC vents are typical Mercedes-Benz. The fit and finish are fantastic and the quality of materials used is excellent as well. The CLA also gets features like memory seats on offer as well as a wireless charging for your smartphone.

The highlight, though, is the latest edition of the MBUX infotainment system that debuts with the new CLA. What it is meant to be as a whole is that the interaction with the car is supposed to be all touch-based through the steering-mounted trackpad, the touchpad on the centre console and the touch screen as well. Speaking of which, the touchscreen in this car is huge and it sits flush on the dash and shares the same panel like the one that holds the instrument cluster – giving the look as if the car has one huge screen. The car supports voice-activated commands and combines the use of augmented reality with real-time display giving a unique interface.

And the clever bits carry on as the new CLA borrows the drive-assist systems from the latest S-Class which allows the car to be driven semi-autonomously as well. And when it comes to driving, which has been one of the strong points of the CLA range of cars, well, the latest version gets a wider track at both the front and the back and has a lower centre of gravity too – which should result in an overall sportier experience.

Powering the CLA 250 variant of the car is a four-cylinder petrol engine that makes 225 hp and 350 Nm of torque that comes along with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. However, the car will have its global launch in May 2019 and will have a lot more engine and drivetrain options including the choice of petrol and diesel engine, manual or automatic transmission and even a four-wheel drive variant.

And yes, this car is going to be launched in India too sometime later this year. It remains to be seen how Mercedes-Benz India prices this car and the kind of drivetrain options we get for our market. That said, it is certainly an exciting car to look forward to.