Mercedes Planning More Diesels, CLA to Best VW GTI Performance

We had the opportunity to sit down with some of the folks from Mercedes-Benz USA, who gave us a little insight into what the brand behind the three-pointed star is planning for our market.

CLA

Starting with the brand's newest model – the CLA-Class – we have good news for fans of the fetching four-door coupe: Mercedes will offer a limited-run Edition 1 special variant in the U.S. We previously reported that it would be a Europe-only affair, but Americans will get all of the same upgrades as the European Edition 1, including the eye-searing interior trim and greyscale exterior color palette. 750 units have been allotted for the U.S. (the most of any region), and it'll be available for the CLA250 with or without 4Matic all-wheel drive. Pricing hasn't been announced for the Edition 1, but the base CLA250 will start at $30,805 including destination when it goes on sale at the end of the year.

The special-edition car will use the same 2.0-liter turbo-four as other CLA models, which is good for 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. While Mercedes wouldn't disclose fuel economy figures for the CLA, they told us to expect better numbers than the current C250 sedan; that car is rated at 22/31 mpg city/highway. However, the CLA250 is expected to be quicker than the C250 – the older sedan makes the 0-to-60-mph run in 7.1 seconds, while the CLA is estimated to do it in 6.5 to 6.7 seconds. That would make the CLA250 ever-so-slightly more fuel efficient and faster to 60 mph than the venerable Volkswagen GTI, which, with 200 hp, is rated at 21/31 mpg and does the dash to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. Speaking of speed, preliminary European specifications for the hotter CLA45 AMG rate its 2.0-liter turbo-four at 360 hp and 332 lb-ft. That car will make its official debut at the New York auto show at the end of March.

Diesels and Four-Cylinders

Could there be a diesel in the cards for the CLA? Mercedes says that while it is possible, it's not currently in the cards. It is looking to keep the model mix simple and will reconsider additional models depending on what buyers demand. Those who want an oil-burner can choose from the existing offerings in the GL-, ML-, and S-Classes, but will also get to choose a new four-cylinder turbo-diesel in either the GLK250 BlueTec or E250 BlueTec. In both of those models, Mercedes is looking to make the diesel a more-affordable proposition: the E250 will "be the price leader for the E-Class family" and the GLK250 "will be priced between the GLK350 rear-wheel drive and 4Matic models." While 2014 E-Class pricing hasn't been released yet, expect the GLK diesel to start somewhere around $38,000 to $40,000.

For now, the turbo-diesel will be the only four-cylinder available in the E-Class. However, don’t think Mercedes won't be following suit with BMW's 528i and Audi's A6 2.0T – we were lead to believe that a gas four cylinder would make its way into the next-generation (W213) E-Class due for the 2017 model year. In the meantime, those looking to downsize their E-Classes will have to turn to the upcoming E550 replacement next year, which will use a twin-turbocharged V-6.

Smart

Also on the compact end of the Mercedes-Benz family, with the introduction of its new Electric Model, Smart is hoping to shift its sales to one-third electric, two-thirds gasoline-powered ForTwos. However, despite reports saying otherwise, Smart will not show its next-generation car at the upcoming Geneva show or any time soon.

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