What BMW is right, Mercedes is just cheap. After the Munich carmaker gave a preview of the new class at its home game, Mercedes countered with a concept of the CLA. The prototype anticipates not just one vehicle, but an entire vehicle family consisting of four cars, all based on Mercedes’ new Benz Modular Architecture (MMA) platform: a coupe, a Shooting Brake and two SUVs – one of which is a coupe. Similar to what is currently happening at BMW, the MMA platform is not purely electric, but is also suitable for combustion engines.

However, at Mercedes “Electric First” applies. The CLA Stromer, which will be launched at the end of 2024, is expected to cover more than 750 WLTP kilometers and consume an average of only around 12 kilowatt hours per 100 kilometers. Thanks to the 800 volt technology, the batteries are quickly refilled. “The car is very close to series production and gives a glimpse of Mercedes’ entry into the electric world,” says product manager Timo Kallenbach. So it’s worth taking a closer look at the prototype, including the large glass roof. It quickly becomes clear that the Mercedes Vision EQXX was the inspiration. This is possible with the bottleneck shape of the body and the efficiency of the powertrain, especially the electric motors, which have an efficiency of 93 percent.

According to Mercedes-dictionary, the new CLA will be a “hypermiler”, i.e. a battery-electric kilometer eater. An improved heat pump contributes to this, which also relieves the battery in winter and heats the passenger cell. The driving assistants are also looking to the future: the CLA should be ready for Level 3 autonomous driving. However, this requires a LIDAR radar, which is not exactly cheap. Since the CLA is now an entry-level vehicle in the Mercedes model range, cost is of course a factor.

When it comes to infotainment, the CLA heralds a new aegis, just as was the case with the A-Class in 2018 with the first MBUX. So the Mercedes CLA will be the first vehicle with the new MB.OS. The times when innovations first made their debut in the S-Class and were then passed down are finally over. Contrary to earlier days, the hardware and software of the MB.OS are decoupled from each other. This allows the software developers to act quickly, adapt to trends and quickly bring them into the car via wireless updates.

A powerful water-cooled processor is required for these functions to work smoothly and for the driver to have a smooth digital experience like that of his smartphone and tablet. It is also prominently illuminated in the Mercedes Concept CLA Class and is thus clearly displayed in the footwell. Due to this computing power, the integration of the cloud and the use of artificial intelligence is possible. Among other things, this will help with voice control, where the interaction between man and machine will be even more natural. Above all, the system will learn from Homo sapiens and adapt to their preferences. In addition, there are computationally intensive details such as real-time graphics or 3D navigation.

The interior with the three screens that extend over the entire dashboard also gives a glimpse of the production model. Not necessarily with the exuberant use of chrome, but through the arrangement of the controls or the reduction of the free-floating center console and of course the use of sustainable materials in the interior such as decorative elements made of paper or the use of bamboo.

“Green steel” is also used for the body. The design of the concept gives a glimpse of the design language of the entire model family. The radiator grille with the many stars, the rear lights with the characteristic star signature are well set. Just like the Hainasen front with the distinctive nose, the shape of which moves backwards the further it goes down and the negative, i.e. concave surfaces in the flanks signal a new level of Mercedes design.