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This is the next Mercedes CLA

Well, sort of. Sculpture Aesthetics A shows off Merc's new design direction

Ooh you teasers, ladies and gentlemen of Stuttgart. You show us a new car under a cover. But Mercedes can’t take the cover off this one and nor can we, because it’s a sculpture. Of a car under a cover…

Mercedes design chief Gorden Wagener revealed it to us this week in the Mercedes design studios. He led us into a darkened room, turned the lights on, and there it was. Pity. The ironist in us wishes he’d pulled a cover off it. But that would presumably have been too, too recursive.

This is the Sculpture Aesthetics A. Which means, if the thing itself hadn’t told you, is the concept version of the next CLA. The current CLA was the first Mercedes to carry a ‘falling feature line’ down the side. But it had other side creases too. The new one has just the one side line running the whole length, pulled out from the body at door handle height.

“Creases have had their day.” says Wagener. “This is design as the fine art of omitting the extraneous. There’s just one single line. The rest is sleek sheer surfaces. Form and body are what remain when creases and lines are reduced to the extreme.

“We have the courage to apply this purism. In combination with perfect proportions and sensual surface design, the upcoming generation of the compact class has the potential to herald a new design era.”

Perfect proportions? That’ll need a change from the current CLA’s too-short wheelbase and pudgy overhangs. Things do look longer and sleeker on the sculpture, but then a sculpture doesn’t have the inconvenience of swallowing people and an engine. We’ll see how it plays out when the real car arrives.

The sculpture has what Wagener calls Mercedes’ ‘racing grille’, a series of vertical bars taken from the crazed new AMG GT R. Seems a little shouty for a 180 diesel, but hey, it looks good.

Top Gear asked Wagener about this same line-free design on the Concept EQ, the electric crossover shown at Paris last year for production in 2019. To some people it looked too blobby, a featureless soap bar. Is that extreme simplicity going to be reserved for the EQ lineup?

“Simplicity is a general Mercedes trend too,” he told us five minutes before he showed us the Sculpture Aesthetics A. “But we will push this purity even further with the EQ. It will be almost seamless.”

Rate it or hate it? Or do you need to wait for the real thing? Comments below please.

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