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Sleek new Mercedes CLA coupe wows crowds at CES gadget show with hi-tech wizardry

By Paul Connolly

Mercedes has unveiled a bolder, sleeker new CLA coupe - and it’s chosen a big US electronic gadget show to showcase the new model.

The new four-door coupe was revealed at the annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show) In Las Vegas, which is normally the preserve of geeks bearing robots, phone tech and other electronic gadgets.

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The world’s biggest electronics show was reportedly bowled over by the coupe’s new shape, and the level of high-tech gadgetry inside the car.

The CLA is the coupe version of the Mercedes-Benz A Class range, the ‘baby’ in Mercedes’ line-up.

The new fourth-generation A Class itself made a stir last year when launched, and the coupe - which has received the very latest Merc technology - is continuing in that tradition.

The car competes against rivals like the BMW 1 Series and Audi A1. Along with four doors, the new car is has a wider track than before, enhancing, says Mercedes, the driving dynamics.

It has  an extra 63 mm at the front and 55 mm more at the rear compared to its predecessor and a lower centre of gravity . Overall, the car is 48mm longer than before, and the cabin is 50mm wider.

The design is both sleeker and bolder, with a sporty tinge to its elegance. The front end is more striking, strongly raked forwards and with a stretched, low-slung bonnet.

Flat headlamps, two-piece, narrow tail lamps and a number plate housed in the bumper all help to make the car seem wider and more squat on the road.

The technical spec, according to Mercedes-Benz, includes a decoupled multi-link axle at the rear for reduced noise and vibration, a Direct-Steer system as standard and hydro-mounts at the front.

A stabiliser bar with a larger diameter has been introduced to reduce body roll.

Active adaptive damping has been added as an option, and Mercedes’ engineers have adapted the ESP system for better cornering and handling.

Official literature describes the cabin as ‘high tech’ and ‘youthful avant-garde’ – in line with a reported younger profile of A-Class coupe customers.

The designers have dispensed with a cowl above the cockpit. As a result, the wing-shaped main body of the dashboard extends from one front door to the other.

The widescreen display is completely free-standing. The lower section is visually separated from the main body of the instrument cluster by a ‘trench’, and it appears to ‘float’ in front of the instrument cluster, an effect highlighted by ambient lighting.

But it was the on-board tech that really got the crowds at CES in going.

There’s a new version of the MBUX -  the Mercedes-Benz User Experience - set-up as the A-Class, incorporating the ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice-controlled assistant, but additional local content has been added in, making the car more relevant in a local context.

It also introduces Interior Assist, which recognises operational demands from gestures and equips the interior with intelligence, through augmented reality for navigation and understanding indirect voice commands.

There are also ingenious details when it comes to the aerodynamics and new functions for the Intelligent Drive driving assistance package.

With MBUX, Mercedes-Benz says it has been revolutionising how to operate a car and communicate with it since the launch of the A-Class.

“Now we go to the next level with an intelligent interior assistance system for the compact class. By recognising gestures it facilitates natural operation,” says Mercedes’ Ola Källenius.

 “This is not the only new feature by which the CLA offers a great deal of automotive intelligence.”

“With the first CLA we celebrated a huge success by selling some 750,000 vehicles and created a totally new segment with a four-door coupé,” adds Britta Seeger, another company executive

“The new edition of the CLA has been developed further in an intelligent way and is even more emotional and sportier than its predecessor. Coupled with new operating systems, it sets new benchmarks for the entire class.”

At the trade show presentation in Las Vegas, the CLA on display was the CLA 250 with a four-cylinder petrol engine (165 kW/225 hp, 350 Nm) with 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmission (combined fuel consumption 6.3-6.1 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions 143-140 g/km)[2].

By the market launch in May, there will be a broad range of diesel and petrol engines available featuring manual or dual-clutch transmissions and 4MATIC all-wheel drive.

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