Electric Mercedes-Benz CLA successor imagined

The next-generation Mercedes-Benz CLA is set to head further upmarket and all-electric in search of higher profits. Here’s what it could look like, based on recent teasers.

The next generation of Mercedes-Benz small cars will undergo a shake-up, in pursuit of more luxury, overhauled technology and higher profit margins – and leading the charge will be a new Mercedes-Benz CLA.

Announced last month, Mercedes-Benz will rationalise its small car and SUV range from seven to four models, in what it dubs the “Entry Luxury segment” – all powered by a new suite of software, and underpinned by a new platform skewed towards electric power.

The first model in the revitalised small-car range will debut in 2024 – and a teaser last month is believed to have previewed its styling, with a ‘four-door coupe’ shape confirming it as a successor to today’s CLA sedan.

Imagined in full by digital artist @avarvarii, the CLA successor looks to draw inspiration from the radical Vision EQXX electric concept, with a sleek profile and rounded-off front fascia aimed at aerodynamics.

Naturally, the slim LED headlights and tail-lights are in line with Mercedes’ current design language – while one of the illustrations pictures the car in a sporty AMG-branded variant, with larger wheels, metallic accents and a boot-lid lip spoiler.

Inside, Mercedes design boss Gorden Wagener describes the company’s new small cars as “everything digital”, pointing to an evolution of the full-width Hyperscreen dashboard in the EQS electric car, among others.

However, the compact car range will debut MB.OS, the German brand’s new in-house operating system controlling all vehicle functions, from infotainment, charging and comfort features to the car’s autonomous driving capabilities.

Over-the-air updates are certain to feature, as the car connects with Mercedes-Benz servers in the cloud, as well as (likely) the vehicles around it.

“Here’s a little teaser of what we call an entry-level luxury car. That will be the most sophisticated, technologically-advanced car with everything digital inside … I can promise you it’s a true luxury car in that segment,” Mercedes-Benz design boss Gorden Wagener told investors last month.

Underpinning the new model will be Mercedes-Benz’s new MMA architecture, designed to support compact and mid-size cars with petrol and electric powertrains.

Details of the next CLA’s electric drive system are hard to pinpoint, given no MMA-based models have been revealed. As a yardstick, today’s Mercedes-Benz EQA and EQB small EVs offer up to 215kW in dual-motor, all-wheel-drive ‘350’ forms.

While MMA is “electric-first”, it’s not electric-only, paving the way for traditional petrol and diesel options. Mercedes’ current 2.0-litre turbo-petrol ‘M260’ four-cylinder could be one option, which develops up to 225kW/400Nm (today’s 310kW CLA45 uses the unrelated ‘M139’ 2.0-litre engine).

Above: The silhouette shown by Mercedes design boss Gorden Wagener.

However, Mercedes-Benz has stressed any compromises in the packaging and design of MMA would be felt in the combustion-engined models, not the electric ones, contrary to current electric cars based on petrol-engined platforms.

A new Mercedes-AMG CLA would be a logical addition to the range – though given Mercedes-Benz’s shift towards electric powertrains, it’s more likely it would use battery power, rather than a highly-strung, hand-built turbo four-cylinder.

The first vehicle on Mercedes-Benz’s MMA platform is due to launch overseas in 2024. Whether the electric CLA successor pictured here is the first car out of the factory doors remains to be seen.

It will form one of four next-generation Mercedes small cars, with three of the models in today’s global compact model line-up – comprised of the A-Class hatch and sedan, B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake, GLA and GLB – to be axed.

Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020.

Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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