Saturday, April 13, 2024

Mercedes-Benz Unveils The Concept CLA-Class

The Concept CLA-Class electric car, which Mercedes-Benz revealed in Munich, provides a preview of what the next complete redesign of the CLA would look like. The usage of existing elements here suggests that many of the components shown in this idea will probably be included in the following-generation CLA.

The Concept CLA-Class, built on the Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture (MMA), features a sleek and aerodynamic design. Inside, it incorporates sustainable interior materials, reflecting the growing trend towards eco-friendly automotive options.

The Concept CLA maintains the distinctive and iconic “four-door coupe” design, a hallmark of the CLA nameplate since its introduction in 2014. However, designers have refined its appearance by elongating the hood and shortening the rear deck, achieving sportier proportions. The concept is adorned in a striking Pomegranate Red paint color, further enhancing its visual appeal.

 

Setting the Concept CLA apart from its predecessors is a significantly more pronounced grille element. This bold grille design takes inspiration from the Mercedes-AMG SL roadster and GT sports car, featuring a distinctive bottom-feeding shape. The grille panel, finished in body colour, is embellished with an array of three-dimensional, illuminated stars, creating a jewelry-like effect when viewed up close. These intricate details add to the concept’s visual allure and make it stand out.

The Concept CLA embodies Mercedes’ signature Sensual Purity design language, evident in its flowing body contours, as well as its curved rear end. However, there have been subtle revisions, notably with flared fenders that are now accentuated beneath a crisp strip of chrome, seamlessly integrating with the front and rear lights. Speaking of lighting, both the head- and tail lamps feature full-width LED illumination, accompanied by the distinctive three-pointed daytime running lights.

An interesting departure from convention is the recessed positioning of these lights within a relief rather than being positioned under a sheet of glass or plastic. This unique approach creates a stepped-nose appearance at the front, in conjunction with the grille shape. While the design is largely cohesive, it’s worth noting that the grille shape might be considered the car’s only minor styling departure from the rest of its aesthetics.

The interior of the Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA-Class draws inspiration from the Vision EQXX, showcasing a blend of sustainable materials and advanced technology. The silver and white seat upholstery is crafted from Nappa leather that has been tanned using coffee husks, a creative use of a byproduct from the coffee industry.

The shimmering purple accent fabric is made from recycled PET plastic. Strips of lab-grown silk adorn the interior door pockets, while the floor mats are constructed from bamboo. Notably, the satin silver door pulls and armrest trim are crafted from recyclable paper. Adding a touch of fun and nostalgia, the classic Benz laurel wreath logo is enlarged and embroidered into the seats.

The most prominent feature in the interior is the expansive Superscreen infotainment system that spans the dashboard, consisting of three separate displays: an instrument cluster, a central touchscreen, and another touchscreen positioned in front of the passenger seat. The turbine-like HVAC vents, often a signature Mercedes design element, serve as dials for the dual-zone climate control, with airflow coming from behind the floating Superscreen. The infotainment system is powered by MB.OS, Mercedes-Benz’s new operating system, boasting a liquid-cooled processor that ensures faster operation, sharper graphics, and enhanced functionality. This innovative technology represents a significant step forward in in-car infotainment systems.

As a concept vehicle, the specifications of the Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA-Class are more conceptual and indicative of what can be expected from the series-production model, which is set to be available by the end of 2024. While these specifications are not finalized, they offer promising insights into the direction of the vehicle.

The Concept CLA-Class features a water-cooled battery, distinct from the air-cooled unit in the EQXX. Efficiency and sustainability enhancements are prominent in this concept.

Two battery options are expected to be available: an entry-level lithium-ion phosphate chemistry for cost-effectiveness and a flagship option with silicon-oxide anodes for higher energy density. Notably, the battery cells are secured using adhesive instead of screws, which not only reduces weight and materials but also enhances structural integrity.

While Mercedes-Benz did not disclose the specific battery size, it estimated a range of 750km and an energy consumption of 8.3km per kilowatt-hour for the Concept CLA.

The Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA-Class features an 800-volt electrical architecture, providing it with a robust 250-kilowatt DC fast-charging capability. This means it can add an estimated 399km of range in just 15 minutes, making it convenient for longer journeys.

Under the hood, the CLA’s powertrain comprises a compact Mercedes-Benz Electric Drive Unit (MB.EDU). This unit combines the electric motor, a two-speed transmission, and the associated inverters and electronics. Each MB.EDU unit weighs 110kg and produces 235hp. Importantly, the use of rare-earth metals in the MB.EDU is significantly reduced compared to previous Mercedes motors, contributing to improved sustainability.

In the Concept CLA, the drive unit is mounted on the rear axle. The Modular Mercedes-Benz Architecture (MMA) platform, which underpins the concept, is also capable of supporting dual-motor configurations, suggesting that the production CLA may offer electrified all-wheel drive. Whether the production model’s base rear-wheel drive configuration or front-wheel drive configuration would be powered by petrol has not been officially verified by Mercedes-Benz.

The Modular Mercedes-Benz Architecture (MMA) platform will serve as the foundation for a range of vehicles, including at least three additional variants beyond the CLA concept. These variants are expected to encompass two crossovers and a station wagon. While internal combustion powertrains may be offered for these models, it’s likely that the electric vehicle (EV) variant will debut first.

While specific details regarding these MMA-based vehicles have yet to be disclosed, it’s reasonable to anticipate that Mercedes-Benz will introduce the CLA shooting brake, GLA, and GLB variants shortly after the CLA.

Regarding pricing, as we all know, EVs are more expensive to produce than their internal combustion engine counterparts. Achieving cost parity between EVs and traditional gasoline or diesel vehicles may take some time. Therefore, pricing for these MMA-based products will likely be determined by various factors, including production costs and market demand.

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