Car Nuts

Mercedes shoots for compact wagon supremacy with CLA

CLA Shooting Brake not requisitioned for North America

Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake

With the launch of the CLA Shooting Brake, Mercedes-Benz joined the compact wagon segment with one of the most stylish and sporty five-doors in the market.

The CLA Shooting Brake launched in Germany at the beginning of April and was an instant success, pulling 110,000 visitors into dealerships and heading out on 1,700 test drives.

"The CLA Shooting Brake will intrigue many customers with its unique design – both private and fleet customers," says Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Marketing & Sales.

Although just starting to become accepted in the U.S., the compact class is extremely popular in Europe (and Canada, which has been ahead of the curve in terms of acceptance though often neglected due to the lack of product based on U.S. marketing visions). Mercedes compacts are especially well liked in Germany, with one in five new compact vehicles (A-Class, B-Class, CLA and GLA) purchased with the three-point star.

The A-Class (a hatchback smaller than the B-Class) was launched in 1997 and is currently in its third generation, but has never made the trip across the Atlantic. The platform was used for the CLA four-door coupe, which has been marketed in North America since its introduction in 2013 and was the first compact offered by Mercedes-Benz USA (the B-Class that was derived from the A-Class had been offered in Canada since 2005), and is the biggest market for the diminutive sedan/coupe.

Customer research says that A-Class buyers tend toward driving pleasure, sportiness and technology, whereas B-Class buyers focus more on functionality, comfort and space. With the CLA Shooting Brake, the company is hoping to expand its buying group without conquest sales from the CLA and B-Class.

There are four trim levels available, with AMG factoring in on three of them and outright customizing the top-of-the-line version. There is a choice of six engines, with diesel accounting for two (befitting the European market). The top of the line CLA 45 AMG gets a turbocharged four cylinder putting out in excess of 350 hp. All-wheel drive is available on select models as is the dual clutch seven-speed automatic transmission.

Unlike most wagons, which are labeled five-seaters, Mercedes prefers to keep the reality of comfort by calling the CLA Shooting Brake a 4 1, in reference to the occasional use for the middle rear passenger seat. It further differentiates itself from the four-door CLA with increases in rear seat head room and, of course, cargo carrying capacity.

The car is not confirmed for sale in North America, where it is feared it would impact too greatly on the B-Class hatchback and the crossover GLA.

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