The Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA-Class
The Concept CLA-Class EV takes a fresh design and presents it in the same size as the current CLA sedan.
It utilises a rear-mounted motor, two-speed transmission, and 800-volt architecture to make it more efficient than existing EVs, granting approximately 400 miles of range. Additionally, this electric model features some components from the Vision EQXX concept, such as the MBUX Super-screen stretching across the cabin.
Today in Munich, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the Concept CLA-Class electric vehicle. Although the current nomenclature and remarks pointing to its near-production status suggest certain elements will appear in the upcoming redesign of the CLA, production of the updated luxury car is not likely to commence until late 2024. It is expected that this model will be released as the 2025 Mercedes-Benz CLA on the U.S. market, with three other spinoffs following: one wagon variant and two potential replacements for the GLA and GLB SUVs.
This electric-first concept was created using Mercedes-Benz's Modular Architecture (MMA), and it looks much like you'd expect from the next-gen CLA. Its length clocks in at around 185 inches, which is roughly similar to the current CLA's 184.6 inches. Eye-catching design features include a bold shark nose with an undercut and smooth sides reminiscent of a Coke-bottle shape. It also has 21-inch six-spoke wheels and tires measuring 255/35R front and 285/30R rear. Lastly, you can anticipate seeing ICE engines available for this model due to its extended hood.
The upcoming EV from Mercedes will be available in single-motor rear-drive and dual-motor all-wheel drive variants, though the company is yet to disclose if the regular gas models will have front or rear drive. The Concept CLA Class has a single permanent magnet synchronous motor that produces 235 horsepower, utilizing MB.EDU (Mercedes-Benz Electric Drive Unit) technology inspired by the Vision EQXX concept that requires minimal rare earth materials. Additionally, it has a two-speed transmission to achieve superior efficiency at varying speeds instead of a direct-drive. This motor and battery feature an 800-volt architecture for increased efficiency further. Moreover, this concept features a heat pump that directs powertrain heat to the cabin and extracts warmth from outside air in cold weather like a home heat pump.
The interior of the EQXX-influenced MBUX Superscreen is the focal point, taking up an impressive amount of space in the cabin. The usual infotainment controls are available to either driver or passenger; although certain US features remain unclear, this could allow for film-viewing, audio control and navigation directions to be transferred between seats. Dependent on a unified MB.OS architecture making possible a unique user interface and experience, the jury's still out as whether this'll become reality. Not to mention the water-cooled housing resembling a Flux Capacitor from Back to the Future beneath the panel - we wouldn't bank on that one!
The few performance specs released lead to impressive results: an estimated range of 750 km and energy consumption of 12 kWh per 100 kilometers based on Europe's WLTP test cycle. Translated into US terms, this roughly means 400 miles of range and efficiency around 150 MPGe. Moreover, the car's 800-volt architecture features DC rapid-charging at 250 kW, allowing for 200 extra miles (in US measure) after a 15 minute session. The battery size was not divulged, but the same calculations point to 90.0 kWh of usable capacity. Compared to the current CLA, it is compact while wielding a wide stance with longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs.
In the coming months, more details regarding the actual CLA production car will be revealed. Even without some of its most fanciful design elements, the concept remains an absolutely beautiful car with terrific mechanicals boasting excellent fuel economy, range and charging capacity. Remaining questions include: is there something lost to entry-level battery tech? How much power will the AWD version have? Are there versions with gasoline engines? And lastly, what is the cost going to be? Though pricing remains a mystery for now, Mercedes-Benz's new EV lineup is headed in a very price-friendly direction.
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