• 2020 Mercedes CLA-Class
  • It will ride on the same platform as the new A-Class
  • But will take on a lot of styling cues from the new CLS
  • This includes the front grille, air intakes, and air dam
  • As well as the rear fascia and rear deck lid
  • It will be offered with the same engines as the A-Class Which means it'll have a maximum output of 224 hp from a 2.0-liter gasoline engine
  • There's still a lot of time before it will debut though, As that will happen sometime in early-to-mid-2019
  • That means the second-gen CLA will be a 2020 model

The four-door coupe features CLS-inspired styling and technology from the S-Class

The second-generation Mercedes-Benz CLA was unveiled at 2019 Consumer Electronics Show.The revised four-door coupe replaces the highly successful first-generation CLA, introduced all the way back in 2013. Just like its predecessor, the 2020 CLA competes in a very tight niche that only includes the Audi A3 Sedan. However, the 2020 CLA may have what it takes to compete against the slightly larger 2019 BMW 3 Series. Based on the same platform that underpins the latest A-Class hatchback and sedan models, the CLA boasts a notable design inside and out. It combines features seen on the A-Class and CLS on the outside, while the interior comes from the smaller of the two. Like most recently unveiled Mercs, the CLA features all the cool technology found in the bigger E-Class and S-Class models, including the semi-autonomous driving system. This places the CLA at the top of its class tech-wise. Let’s find out more about that in the review below.

2020 Mercedes CLA-Class Exterior Design

  • CLS-inspired cues
  • Four-door coupe design
  • New headlights and taillights
  • The roof looks a bit taller
  • More subdued body lines
  • Fresh wheels
  • Sporty look overall
2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Exterior
- image 813036
Up front, it blends unique features with cues from the CLS and A-Class

Just like its predecessor, the new CLA looks a lot like the CLS. It’s not a shrunken CLS though, as it also blends features seen on the A-Class as well as a few unique styling cues. While the diamond-block grille with the central star is shared with other Mercedes-Benz models, the headlamps are unique. Although they have the same elongated and slightly swept-back shape like on the A-Class and CLS, they look a bit more organic thanks to a new extension in the lower and outer corner. By contrast, the A-Class and CLS have sharper lights with a straight lower section.

The front bumper, on the other hand, is shared with the aforementioned models. We can see the same A-shaped center section with arms that extend toward the lower corners of the bumper, large side vents with two winglets each, and a sporty splitter at the bottom. The hood comes from the A-Class. It has the same shape, as well as the two power domes on each side of the center line. The CLS has a smoother lid for a more elegant look.

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Exterior
- image 813049
The coupe-style roof is similar to the CLS, but everything else is shorter, so the CLA looks bulkier

It’s onto the sides where the CLA looks like a shrunken CLS. The side skirts, the doors, and the coupe-style roof are all similar to the CLS, but everything is shorter, so the CLA feels bulkier. Despite this, it remains sporty thanks to the high beltline that arches just under the side windows, the frameless doors, and the fact that the cabin was moved farther toward the back compared to the old model.

As usual, Mercedes-Benz offers a wide selection of wheels, some similar to the A-Class. The standard rollers measure 18 inches, but you can grab bigger, 19-inch rims off the options list.

left right
The new four-door coupe is 1.9 inches longer and two inches wider than its predecessor

Around back, the CLA bears a closer resemblance to the CLS rather than the A-Class. That’s mostly because the license plate recess is located in the bumper and not on the trunk lid, like on the smaller A-Class. The spoiler and the diffuser-like element are also a bit more aggressive, like on the CLS. The remaining features, on the other hand, are shared with the other sedans, with minor changes. The two-piece taillights, for instance, are narrower on the trunk lid like on the CLS, but bigger on the fenders, like on the A-Class. They have a unique shape though, just like the headlamps.

Size-wise, the CLA is a tad bigger than its predecessor. The four-door coupe is 1.9 inches longer and two inches wider, while the wheelbase is only 1.1 inches longer.

Overall, Mercedes-Benz did a great job redesigning the CLA. Not only it borrows some sporty and elegant features from the bigger CLS, but it also employs a few unique styling cues. It looks better from every angle and fits nicely into the lineup.

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Exterior
- image 813047

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Exterior Dimensions

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA Difference
Length 4688 mm 4640 mm 48 mm
Width 1830 mm 1777 mm 53 mm
Width incl. exterior mirrors 1999 mm 2032 mm -33 mm
Height 1439 mm 1441 mm -2 mm
Wheelbase 2729 mm 2699 mm 30 mm
Front track 1612 mm 1549 mm 63 mm
Rear track 1602 mm 1547 mm 55 mm

2020 Mercedes CLA-Class Interior Design

  • Identical to the A-Class
  • Similar seats as the E-class and S-Class
  • Headroom and legroom increased marginally
  • Nearly as spacious as the 3 Series
  • Smart MBUX infotainment system
  • Big digital screens
2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Interior
- image 813002
The cabin is virtually identical to the A-Class

While the exterior brings together features from the A-Class, the CLS, and a few unique touches, the cabin is virtually identical to the A-Class. But this is good news, as the latest A-Class is by far the most appealing and technologically advanced vehicle in its class. The subcompact sets a new standard on the market, and the CLA does the same compared to its rivals.

Although unique to the subcompact class, this cabin layout borrows some features from the bigger Mercedes-Benz models. The dashboard, the center stack with its three A/C vents, the instrument cluster, and the infotainment display are all similar to those seen in the E-Class and S-Class.

The dashboard features a two-tier design, with the horizontal sections separated by metal trim. The round A/C vents at the corners and on the center stack sport the familiar "turbine" design seen on almost all Mercs, including the AMG GT sports car.

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Interior
- image 813030
The MBUX infotainment system features artificial intelligence that has the ability to learn

Just like in A-Class and other models, the instrument cluster and the infotainment display are set next to each other and look like a really long screen that stretches over half of the dashboard’s length. However, the unit is missing the hood on top, seen on the CLS and other large Mercs. The example shown here features the big 10.25 displays, which are only available on the more expensive trims. The entry-level versions come with smaller screens, but they’re still competitive.

The CLA also borrows the A-Class’ state-of-the-art ambient lighting system with 64 colors. It features ten configurations, called "color worlds," allowing a complex lighting display.

Another big highlight is Mercedes’ latest infotainment system, called MBUX, short for Mercedes-Benz User Experience. It features artificial intelligence that has the ability to learn and it can be customized and adapted to suit every user. It also includes augmented reality technology, through which you can operate the media display and the navigation system once you activate it using the code "Hey Mercedes."

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Interior
- image 813004
The new CLA offers a bit of extra room in all departments

As far as passenger space goes, the new CLA offers a bit of extra room in all departments, but the difference is mostly negligible. Front-row headroom increased by less than an inch to 40.3 inches, while rear headroom is basically the same at 35.7 inches. Legroom remained unchanged at almost 42 inches in the front and almost 34 inches in the rear. Elbow room increased by 1.4 inches in the front and 1.7 inches in the rear, while shoulder room remained almost the same in the front row and increased by almost an inch in the second row.

How does it compare to its main rival, the Audi A3? Well, the CLA clearly wins the front headroom battle, offering almost four inches more than the A3. However, Audi benefits from an extra half-inch in the rear. The same goes for legroom. The Merc comes with an extra 0.6 inches in the front, but the A3 offers an extra 1.2 inches in the rear. There is more shoulder room in the CLA in both rows though, with the rear compartment offering an extra inch.

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA
- image 813001
The new trunk is smaller compared to the old model, but it's still bigger than the Audi A3's

Interestingly enough, the CLA holds its own against slightly larger sedan like the BMW 3 Series. Despite being bigger, the 3 Series isn’t notably more spacious inside the cabin. Actually, the CLA offers an extra 1.6 inches of headroom in the front, while its legroom and shoulder room measurements aren’t far behind.

Moving over to cargo space, the new CLA has a slightly smaller trunk than its predecessor. Now rated at 16.2 cubic feet, the CLA lost almost 0.4 cubic feet. Fortunately for Mercedes, the CLA remains roomier than the Audi A3, which offers only 12.3 cubic feet. The CLA is also really close to the BMW 3 Series, which can take up to 17.3 cubic feet of luggage.

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Interior Dimensions

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA Difference
Max. headroom, front 1023 mm 1006 mm 17 mm
Headroom, rear 908 mm 905 mm 3 mm
Legroom, front 1062 mm 1063 mm -1 mm
Legroom, rear 861 mm 860 mm 1 mm
Elbow room, front 1457 mm 1422 mm 35 mm
Elbow room, rear 1454 mm 1410 mm 44 mm
Shoulder room, front 1400 mm 1391 mm 9 mm
Shoulder room, rear 1372 mm 1350 mm 22 mm
Load compartment width max. 1444 mm 1331 mm 113 mm
Load compartment depth max. 1054 mm 1030 mm 24 mm
Width of load compartment opening 891 mm 629 mm 262 mm
Boot capacity 460 L 470 L -10 L

2019 Mercedes CLA-Class Performance

  • Same platform as the new A-Class
  • Gasoline-only drivetrain in the U.S.
  • A bit of extra power
  • Seven-speed DCT exclusive to 2.0-liter models
  • 221 horsepower
  • 258 pound-feet of torque
2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Exterior
- image 813008
The revised engine cranks out 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque

The CLA debuted in 250 trim, featuring the familiar 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that Mercedes is offering in quite a few cars. Still related to the old model, the engine was updated for the new generation and cranks out 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. While torque remains unchanged, the new mill generates an extra 13 horsepower. At the same time, it pumps an extra 33 horses and 37 pound-feet when compared to the same unit in the A-Class.

The turbocharged four-banger mates to a revised seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and its available with the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.

Output-wise, it’s on par with the competition. While the base Audi A3 falls behind at 184 horsepower and 222 pound-feet, the 45 TFSI version comes with only an extra seven horsepower and identical torque figures. The CLA won’t keep up with the 330i trim of the BMW 3 Series, which delivers 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Exterior
- image 813033
The tracks are wider now, which results in increased stability

Hopefully the new CLA will be quicker to 60 mph. The old model gets there in 6.8 seconds, more than a second slower than the Audi A3.

Mercedes updated the platform too. The big news is that the track are wider now, with an extra 2.5 inches added in the front and an extra 2.2 inches added in the rear. The new CLA also has a lower center of gravity, which enhances the four-door coupe’s dynamics.

The standard suspension setup includes a decoupled multi-link axle in the rear, a Direct-Steer system, hydromounts in the front, and a stabilizer bar with a larger diameter for reduced body roll. It’s pretty much identical to the A-Class, but tweaked to better suit the longer body. You can also order an optional active damping suspension that will enable you to switch between comfort or sporty tunings.

Safety

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Exterior
- image 813035

Safety features come from the latest A-Class, which is packed with state-of-the-art technology taken from the S-Class. The package includes the semi-autonomous system, which keeps a close eye on the traffic thanks to a camera and radat system that sees up to 0.3 miles ahead. It also uses map and navigation data for assistance functions, while Active Distance Assist Distronic helps you in numerous route-specific situations, while also adjusting the speed when approaching bends or roundabouts.

Features like Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, and Active Brake Assist come standard.

The latter helps reduce or prevent rear-end collisions with slower-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles ahead and with crossing pedestrians and cyclists, or prevent them altogether.

Pre-Safe Plus, usually offered on the bigger Mercs, has the ability to recognize an imminent rear-end collision with a vehicle coming from behind.

Moving over to passive safety features, it comes with three-point seat belts with belt force limiter and belt tensioner in the front, driver and front passenger airbags, a driver’s kneebag and windowbags as standard. Thorax-pelvis sidebags are standard in the front and available as optional equipment for the rear passenger compartment.

2020 Mercedes CLA-Class Pricing

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Exterior
- image 813054

Pricing for the new CLA is not yet available, but it shouldn’t cost a lot more than the outgoing model. The old CLA retails from $33,100 with front-wheel drive and from $35,100 with the 4Matic AWD system included. Expect the new four-door coupe to fetch around $34,000 before options. This sticker will make it a tad more expensive than base Audi A3 Sedan, priced from $32,500, but on par with the more powerful 45 TFSI trim, which retails from $35,600.

2020 Mercedes CLA-Class Competition

Audi A3

2017 - 2018 Audi A3 Sedan High Resolution Exterior
- image 671735

The A3 is the only true competitor for the Mercedes-Benz CLA. With the 1 Series Sedan not available in the U.S. (or Europe) and the four-door 2 Series still underway, the A3 is the only premium, German car you can cross-shop with the CLA in terms of size and features. The issue here is that the A3 is a bit long in the tooth, having been on the market since 2012. The good news is that it doesn’t look dated. Sure, it’s not exactly a four-door coupe, it’s more of a small sedan, but it looks sporty, and it can be equipped with loads of features that make it look aggressive. Inside the cabin, however, the A3 Sedan looks a bit old and it doesn’t have the premium features you get with the new CLA. Semi-autonomous capability is out of the question, but you get some nice premium features like leather, Alcantara, and the Bang & Olufsen the audio system from the options list. The base model comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 184 horsepower and 222 pound-feet of torque. That’s notably less than the CLA250, but Audi also offers a more powerful version of the four-banger, good for 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. This model hits 60 mph in an impressive 5.4 seconds, topping out at 130 mph. The base model comes in at $32,500, but the more powerful variant is similarly priced at $35,600 before options.

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi A3.

BMW 3 Series

2019 BMW 3 Series
- image 798247

With no subcompact sedan from BMW available in the U.S., the 3 Series is the closest Bimmer you can get. Fortunately, the compact was redesigned for the 2019 model year, and its sleek profile makes it look almost like a four-door coupe. Although it competes in a different segment, the 3 Series is only marginally larger than the CLA. That’s because the CLA falls between the A-Class Sedan and the C-Class, the latter being the Bimmers main competitor. Specifically, the 3 Series is less than an inch longer, only sightly higher, and equally. A bigger difference lies in the wheelbase, as the 3 Series’ is almost five inches longer. The similarities carry over inside the cabin. The 3 Series offers more headroom in the rear, but has less in the front. It offers more legroom both front and rear, but the difference is marginal. It has a slightly bigger trunk too. Drivetrain-wise, the 330i trim is similar to the CLA250. It also features a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, but it’s notably more powerful at 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The sprint to 60 mph takes 5.6 seconds. It’s significantly more expensive though, coming in at $40,250 with FWD and at $42,250 with AWD.

Read our full story on the 2019 BMW 3 Series

Final Thought

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Exterior
- image 813049

The CLA has been a big hit ever since it hit U.S. dealerships for the 2014 model year. Although it was controversial at first due to its front-wheel platfrom and four-cylinder engine lineup, it gathered a solid fan base thanks to its affordable base price, good fuel economy, and coupe-like handling. It also brought younger customers in Mercedes-Benz showrooms, with the Germans claiming that CLA customers are around 10 years younger than the typical buyer for the German brand. What’s more, more than two-thirds of CLA buyers in the U.S. came from competing brands, a big success for Mercedes-Benz. This redesign builds on the CLA’s solid performance on the market with a fresh design, a fantastic interior, the best technology available, and a more powerful engine. Until Audi comes up with a new A3 Sedan and BMW launches a proper competitor, the CLA has this market for itself.

  • Leave it
    • Won’t get a manual transmission

References

2014 - 2015 Mercedes CLA-Class High Resolution Exterior
- image 489082

Read our full review on the 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA.

2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS Exterior
- image 748173
21-horsepower and 184-pound-feet boost

Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS.

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Exterior
- image 764932

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Spyshots
- image 789475

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45.

Update History

Update 07/25/2018: The Mercedes CLA has finally dropped some of its camo and was found playing on the Nurburgring. There’s still some time before it makes its debut but check out the spy shots section below to see the latest developments.

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