Unofficial Picture: Mercedes Concept Style Coupe

It’s rare when a model shifts as radically from generation to generation as has the Mercedes-Benz A-class. In this case, though, such shifts shouldn’t come as much of a surprise: The A has always been a bit radical, ever since its introduction in 1997 as competition for the perennially popular VW Golf. The Merc’s seating position was higher than in typical compacts, in the fashion of wildly popular SUVs, for a better view of the road. The car featured a sandwich-style floor for crash reasons (in frontal impacts, the engine would be driven under the occupants) and to provide room for battery or fuel storage in alternative-powertrain models.

The next-gen 2013 A-class—revealed in Geneva in March—remains a radical vehicle for Mercedes in both its architecture and its styling, even as it eschews the tall proportions and sandwich floor. Its MFA bones (for “Mercedes Front-wheel-drive Architecture”) serve as the jumping-off point for several derivatives, including the CLA-class previewed by the concept you see here. (They also will spawn an Infiniti model, thanks to the recent Renault-Nissan/Daimler tie-up.) With this model proliferation—three- and five-door hatchbacks, a small crossover, and the recently released B-class—Mercedes hopes to sell many more small cars globally. We will get the crossover and this sedan, while reports on U.S. hatch availability seem to be in flux.

Now, to the concept/future production model at hand. We received exclusive access to the Concept Style Coupé just ahead of its debut at the 2012 Beijing auto show, and were told by Mercedes design chief Gorden Wagener that what you see here (apart from the side mirrors and a few similarly fanciful elements) constitutes for all intents and purposes the series-production CLA-class. We hope that’s more true than with the A-class hatchback concept, which lost its sizzle in the transition to production.

The four-door car resembles a shrunken CLS, although at 182.6 inches long, it’s about a foot shorter. (It’s a smidge shorter in height and roughly the same width.) The exterior, with its sharply creased character lines, has a more dynamic look than is typical of cars this size. Amplifying the athletic styling, the concept is fitted with 20-inch turbine-style wheels, and it also boasts power domes on the hood and a gaping lower intake. The grille, as we saw on AMG-engineered Sport versions of the A-class, is punctuated by hundreds of bright elements. Merc confirms we’ll see more of this on future sporty models; the company refers to it as its “diamond grille,” although the shiny bits are made of chromed steel and not precious gems. All told, it’s quite a handsome piece.

Thanks to: Car and Driver


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