The Mercedes Concept CLA Class is a four-door coupe with 466 miles of range | Top Gear
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The Mercedes Concept CLA Class is a four-door coupe with 466 miles of range

Merc’s upcoming MMA platform will underpin four new EVs and uses tech from the brilliant Vision EQXX

Published: 04 Sep 2023

Mercedes has unveiled the small, swoopy and admittedly handsome four-door Concept CLA Class coupe at the Munich Motor Show. There’s three-pointed star lighting, 21-inch aero-spec wheels, a giant panoramic roof and wraparound low energy LED lightbars front and rear. The huge grille panel adorned with mini light-up stars is perhaps a little much, but at least it’s not another whacking great SUV.

Plus, this isn’t a design fantasy that’ll never make production, because it previews an all-electric CLA that’ll be the first of four new EVs.  

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“The Concept CLA Class is the forerunner for an entirely new all-electric segment of entry-level vehicles at Mercedes-Benz,” says chairman of the Merc board Ola Källenius. “The range will comprise a total of four new models – a four-door coupe, a shooting brake and two stunning SUVs – each with significantly elevated product substance.”

No room for an electric A-Class hatch by the sounds of it, so it’s worth us paying attention to this Concept CLA Class. It’s based on Merc’s upcoming Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture (MMA) platform that’ll underpin all four of the new models and uses tech from the Vision EQXX technology demonstrator that managed over 1,200km (746 miles) on a single charge.

The CLA Class won’t quite manage that far, but Merc is targeting a range of more than 466 miles and efficiency of 5.2 miles per kWh. Impressive. When it comes to the production car, there’ll be two battery options to choose from – that headline range figure will come from a lighter and stiffer 90kWh-ish unit with “silicon-oxide content for excellent energy density", but there will also be a more traditional lithium-ion battery at the lower end of the range. 

The drivetrain uses an 800V architecture and is paired with an electric drive unit (a 235bhp electric motor and two-speed gearbox) that’s ‘directly derived’ from the Vision EQXX and powers the rear wheels, but we’re told that the platform can also support twin-motor, four-wheel drive layouts.

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Mercedes Concept CLA Class Top Gear

There’s 250kW DC rapid charging capability that allows 248 miles of range to be added in 15 minutes, plus a more efficient heat pump and bidirectional charging so that the CLA can power your home in a storm or top-up stricken EVs.

There’s also innovation in the manufacturing process, with the carbon footprint of the battery cells reduced by 40 per cent and ‘almost CO2-free steel and CO2-reduced aluminium’ used in the structure.

The interior is similarly inspired by the EQXX, with Merc’s MBUX Superscreen stretching right across the dash. That’s made up of three screens and incorporates neat looking extra screens in fake turbine vents that can be used to adjust the climate control. The actual vents are hidden behind the Superscreen.

Mounted just below the screens in this concept is a high-performance, water-cooled chip from NVIDIA, which is essentially the digital brain of Merc’s new Mercedes-Benz Operating System (MB.OS) that’ll appear in all of its new MMA-based EVs. 

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Apparently, this system uses mini-LED technology and advanced 3D graphics powered by game engine technology, and we’re told that there are huge amounts of personalisation available. Looks rather swish, but will it work in the real world?

Elsewhere the new design and longer wheelbase gives rear seat passengers more head and legroom than in the current combustion-engined CLA, and much of the trim is actually made from paper and bamboo.

Is a 466-mile ‘entry-level’ EV about to change the game?

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