The 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLA: Raising the Bar in the Compact Executive Segment

Earlier this month, the German automaker unveiled the facelifted version of the CLA, boasting hybrid powertrains, the latest generation of MBUX infotainment system featuring extensive dual-screen displays, an advanced sound system with Dolby Atmos capabilities, wireless smartphone connectivity, and many other advanced safety features and state-of-art driving assistance.
Mercedes-Benz CLA 31 photos
Photo: Mercedes-Benz
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The Mercedes-Benz CLA is a compact luxury sedan that was first introduced in 2013 as a 2014 model year. The CLA was conceived to appeal to a younger and more adventurous audience and was positioned as an entry-level premium model in the Mercedes-Benz lineup.

The first-generation CLA was based on the Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupe, first shown at the 2012 Avant/Garde Diaries event in Los Angeles. The concept vehicle was extremely well-received, and Mercedes-Benz decided to put it into production as the CLA we all know today.

It was offered in two body styles: a four-door sedan and a five-door shooting brake. It was available with various powertrain options, including a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a 2.1-liter diesel engine, and a high-performance CLA 45 AMG version with the AMG M133 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which, at the time, obtained the title of the most powerful production engine of its kind in the world, a label which is currently owned by its successor, the M139, under the hood of the 2019 generation of the 45 AMG variant.

Revamped design for the modern compact sedan

2024 Mercedes\-Benz CLA
Photo: Mercedes-Benz
The exterior appearance of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLA Sedan is a delightful sight, with its smart and sporty exterior design. The front fascia has been through a complete redesign, featuring a bold new radiator grille, sporting the iconic Mercedes-Benz star pattern, and a new rear diffuser that adds a touch of aggression to its overall look. The LED high-performance headlamps have been updated with modernized graphics, and the LED taillights have been restyled to give the car a more striking road presence.

The new CLA Sedan is available in two new paint color schemes, Hyper Blue and Starling Blue, that add a pop of color to its already elegant demeanor. These new hues are exclusive to the CLA models and give the car a touch of uniqueness on the road.

Customers can choose between three additional wheel designs, with sizes ranging from the standard 17-inch five-spoke vanadium silver or high-gloss black alloys, continuing with a 10-spoke 18-inch selection finished in black with high-gloss machined surfaces, ending with the 19-inch five-twin-spoke alternative painted in matte black with high-gloss turned surfaces and rim flanges. As a side note, the latter two equip as standard the performance-oriented AMG 35 and 45 models, respectively.

Not only is the vehicle visually impressive, but it is engineered to be as aerodynamically efficient as possible. The car's carefully devised harmonious body shape generates a lowered drag coefficient and gives it a more efficient presence on the road while still turning heads wherever it goes.

From hybrid to AMG: the CLA's diverse drivetrain offerings

2024 Mercedes\-Benz CLA
Photo: Mercedes-Benz
The new Mercedes-Benz CLA Sedan offers a range of powertrain options to suit any driver's needs. At the CLA 250's heart sits a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, developing 221 horsepower (225 ps or 165 kW) and 258 lb-ft (350 Nm) of torque. This engine is paired either with a 7- or 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, providing smooth and swift gear changes.

Additionally, these engines now benefit from an advanced mild hybrid technology that employs an additional 48-volt onboard power supply that delivers an extra 10 kW (13 hp) of power for improved pedal responses and a more agile character. Furthermore, the new belt-driven starter-generator also contributes to a more comfortable driving experience by allowing for low-vibration, low-noise engine start-up and even providing coasting capabilities while the combustion engine remains switched off.

Not least, during braking and acceleration, the starter generator recuperates and supplies the 12-volt onboard network and the 48-volt battery with electrical energy, resulting in much-improved fuel efficiency.

2024 Mercedes\-Benz CLA
Photo: Mercedes-Benz
For the European market, the all-new Mercedes-Benz CLA also offers a new plug-in hybrid powertrain option found on the CLA 250 e, powered by a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor that can produce up to 80 kW (109 ps or 107 hp), paired with a 15.6 kWh battery.

Consequently, the CLA 250 e can travel up to about 50 miles (80 km) on electric power alone. When the battery is depleted, the engine will automatically start and flawlessly keep the vehicle moving while also providing a charge. The total system output for the car is 160 kW (215 hp or 218 ps), enabling a 0 to 62 mph (100 kph) time of 7.6 seconds.

The plug-in hybrid variant also features advanced charging abilities with three available options, beginning with the 3.7 kW standard capability, further having an 11 kW alternating current option or the direct current, up to 22 kW fast charging variant, which can juice up the battery from 10% to 80% in just 25 minutes. Consequently, the CLA 250 e perfectly suits those who want to enjoy the benefits of electric commuting while still having the traditional internal combustion engine as a backup.

2024 Mercedes\-Benz CLA
Photo: Mercedes-Benz
For those who crave even more power and performance, the CLA Sedan also offers a high-performance AMG variant. The AMG CLA 35 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 302 horsepower (306 ps or 225 kW) and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of torque. This powerplant is paired with an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission and a standard 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, which enables excellent traction and handling. The CLA 35 also includes an AMG-tuned suspension and braking system and a vibrant sports exhaust.

The CLA 45 S offers the most powerful engine option for those looking for the ultimate attributes that this platform can deliver. It is powered by a handcrafted AMG 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 416 hp (421 ps or 310 kW) and 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) of torque, mated to the famed 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system. This engine comes paired with an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, specially tuned for lightning-fast gear changes and a 0-62 mph (100 kph) acceleration time of just 4.0 seconds.

The CLA 45 S also features a host of performance-enhancing features, such as the AMG Aerodynamics Package Plus, which includes a fixed rear spoiler, amplifying the vehicle's aerodynamic abilities by significantly increasing the rear axle downforce and improving high-speed stability and handling.

Luxury merges with technology inside the CLA's cabin

2024 Mercedes\-Benz CLA
Photo: Mercedes-Benz
The new Mercedes-Benz CLA interior is designed to nourish a high-tech and luxurious experience for the driver and its passengers. A few highlights of the inside cabin include a pair of free-standing screens, which enclose either a 7-inch standard or a 10.25-inch optional digital instrument cluster sitting next to another 10.25-inch multimedia display for an engaging high-tech experience.

The steering wheel comes upholstered in Nappa leather as standard, with an ARTICO artificial alternative and heated variants also available. Newly designed trim elements finished in a dark carbon look, open-pore brown linden wood, or brown microfiber further enhance the luxurious feel of the interior.

The panoramic sunroof completes the satisfying experience and captures ample natural light inside the cabin, offering an excellent sky view and encompassing a more open-space and cozy ambiance.

2024 Mercedes\-Benz CLA
Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Thanks to the Progressive equipment line, customers can choose between three interior color combinations, including Black, Macchiato Beige, and Sage Grey. The CLA's comfort seats are made using recycled materials as a further step towards complete carbon neutrality, on par with Mercedes-Benz's commitment to reduce emissions per passenger car by the end of the decade and becoming carbon neutral by 2039.

Regarding technology offerings, the CLA comes with the latest generation of MBUX infotainment system, which offers a wide range of features such as navigation, media, phone, and more. The car also comes equipped with a Burmester sound system with Dolby Atmos, which delivers an immersive sound experience.

With the activation of the online services offered by the company, the Mercedes Me application and the MBUX voice assistant that can be activated by saying "Hey Mercedes" can become even more capable of dialogue and learning, being able to trigger specific actions and explain vehicle functions.

The practical side of sporty

2024 Mercedes\-Benz CLA
Photo: Mercedes-Benz
It's worth mentioning that the European market will also receive the CLA Shooting Brake in addition to the CLA Coupe. It offers a unique blend of style, performance, and functionality, catering to customers who value sporty aesthetics and practicality. The Shooting Brake boasts the same sleek and aerodynamic design as the sedan. Still, it has a longer and more spacious body which conveys additional cargo space and equips the much-needed EASY-PACK tailgate, ideal for customers who frequently engage in outdoor activities or require easy access to their storage space.

Needless to say, the Shooting Brake includes the same advanced features and technology as the sedan, including the latest MBUX infotainment system, advanced driver assistance systems, and a similar range of powertrain options.

The facelifted 2024 model year Mercedes-Benz CLA is a stylish and technologically advanced compact sedan that combines excellent performance with luxury and efficiency. The exterior design is beautiful and modern, the interior is spacious and filled with high-tech features, and the available drivetrain options are multiple and cater to every customer's need. The company has not yet disclosed pricing details, but the first vehicles are expected to hit U.S. dealerships later this year.
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About the author: Dan Marinescu
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Since his early childhood, Dan developed an avid passion for cars and, now he sees himself as a genuine petrolhead. His enthusiasm comes from his father, an automotive engineer. They love to reminisce about the days when his dad showed him the inner workings of an engine and why everything does what it does.
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