Mercedes-Benz Confirms "Baby CLS", Could Be Called CLA

In announcing a new plant in Hungary, Mercedes-Benz has confirmed that it will soon launch a compact, coupe-like four-door car that is essentially a smaller CLS-Class. The car will be built alongside the B-Class at the new Mercedes factory in Kecskemét, Hungary.

The car will reportedly be called the CLA-Class and may debut as a concept next month at the Beijing Motor Show. It may also be previewed by the CLC concept (many reports suggested the CLA would be called the CLC) that is expected to appear at an art festival next month.

The CLA-Class will reportedly look like a smaller version of the CLS-Class, the latest version of which recently debuted in time for the 2011 model year. The CLS model line launched in 2004 and seemed to lend new credence to the idea of four-door cars with swoopy, coupe-like rooflines. Unlike the rear-drive CLS, the CLC/CLA compact car will be built on the new Mercedes Front Architecture (MFA) chassis design used by both the A-Class and B-Class compacts.

Building the CLA in Hungary will require the hiring of at least 500 more employees there. Low wages in Hungary will help keep profits on cars built there high. Mercedes already has invested €800 million (about $1 billion) to build the Kecskemét plant, and has received 100,000 orders for the new B-Class. The CLA will reportedly go on sale before the end of this year.

In addition to the A-, B, and CLA-Class cars, Mercedes plans to build a compact crossover on the MFA platform. All of the small MFA-based Mercedes models are likely to be sold in the U.S. market at some point in the future.

Sources: Mercedes-Benz, Automotive News

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