When it opened a new plant in Hungary to build the B-Class, Mercedes-Benz announced that the factory also would build a compact "four door coupe." That car is being previewed at the Beijing Motor Show by the Concept Style Coupe, which probably gives a strong indication of the new production car's design.
The production car will likely be called the CLA-Class, and has previously been referred to as a "baby CLS" in deference to its styling -- which also looks remarkably similar to the Volkswagen CC. The Concept Style Coupe is a four-door design, but its rear roofline slopes so significantly that in profile the car appears more like a coupe than a sedan. Short overhangs and 20-inch wheels make the car look relatively squat; at 182.5 inches long and 74.4 inches wide, it is approximately the same size as a Volkswagen Jetta. Unlike the much larger CLS, the Concept Style Coupe and its production version will be front- or all-wheel drive, based on the Mercedes Front Architecture (MFA) platform used for the A-Class and B-Class.
Like the Concept A-Class that previewed the production A-Class, the car begins with a large grille filled with tiny concentric dots, topped by a large Mercedes emblem. The headlights glow red when in "standby" mode, while the turn signals illuminate in a sequential pattern just like the taillights on a Ford Mustang. The car's nose is low and narrow, quickly rising and widening as it approaches the steeply raked windshield.
A series of character lines and creases span the length of the Concept Style Coupe's sides. The windows are frameless and there is no B-pillar. Indeed, it appears that the A- and C-pillars are one continuous curve that frames the windows and supports the panoramic glass roof. From behind, the concept car looks almost exactly like a Mercedes CLS-Class, thanks to a curved trunklid spoiler, tapering taillights, twin exhaust outlets, and a small diffuser that continues the concentric-dot pattern of the front grille.
Power comes from a turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter inline-four engine, good for 208 hp. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive transmit power to the road. Mercedes claims the engine provides both sporty performance and "exemplary efficiency." Giant cross-drilled brakes peek out from behind the turbine-style wheels.
Quirky Interior DesignThere are just four seats inside, as the rear passengers are separated by a large center console with storage cubbies and air vents. The carbon fiber dashboard has a dark Alcantara upper pad and white leather for the lower regions. Fluorescent green accents are used on the steering wheel, door panels, and seats. The air vents change color depending on the temperature of air emitted: blue for cold air, yellow and green for moderate temperatures, and red for warm air. The steering wheel is wrapped in suede, while many of the control surfaces have a shiny black anodized finish.
The in-car infotainment system, operated by Mercedes' familiar Command knob on the center console and displayed in a color screen atop the center stack, are all stored remotely. By functioning "in the cloud", the software can be constantly updated over a cellular data connection, so it will never be of date.
If past Mercedes show cars like the Concept A-Class are any indication, the production CLA will look very similar to this Concept Style Coupe. Expect the abundant character lines and creases to be tamed, and the interior to be a little more traditional, but otherwise the car's coupe-like design should make it to production.