Mercedes reveals future compact car plans, with new Concept CLA paving the way

Published Sep 4, 2023


Mercedes-Benz describes its new Concept CLA Class as a “close-to-production” insight into its upcoming family of compact vehicles.

With the A-Class hatchback set to be culled, the German carmaker will reduce its compact family to just four models, these being a production version of the Concept CLA that you see here as well as a shooting brake and two SUV models, which we presume are replacements for the GLA and GLB.

These four models will be underpinned by the new MMA architecture, which Mercedes describes as an “electric-first” platform. While primarily designed for electric cars (EVs), MMA can reportedly still accommodate internal combustion models, which will likely stick around for at least one more generation.

But the focus will very much be on the EVs, and here Mercedes has put considerable effort into ensuring that its upcoming products will be more than just competitive.

With technology inherited from the innovative Vision EQXX concept car, the German carmaker is targeting a driving range of more than 750km on the WLTP cycle for its most efficient MMA models, with consumption as low as 12 kWh per 100km.

Buyers will get to choose from two different cell chemistries, with entry versions using a lithium-ion phosphate (LFP) battery and the more expensive models sporting an anode design with silicon-oxide content, which promises superior energy density.

The car also has an 800V electrical architecture, allowing for rapid charging. In fact, when hooked up to the appropriate fast charger, up to 400km of range can be added within just 15 minutes, Mercedes says.

Advanced new wide-screen cabin

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as this vehicle’s electronics go. It also introduces a brand new operating system called “MB.OS”, housed within an “MBUX Superscreen” that stretches right across the dashboard, giving some screen real estate to the front passenger as well.

Derived from the Vision EQXX, the new wide-screen features immersive 3D graphics powered by the Unity Game Engine.

Mercedes says users will be able to create their own “personal space” with “beautifully depicted, immersive worlds”. This includes an MBUX Collectibles feature that allows for the creation of a private art gallery by connecting the owner’s personal NFT wallet and allowing them to browse an exhibition curated by Mercedes.

The company is also aiming to take its sustainability efforts to the next level when it comes to interior and exterior materials.

The cabin, for instance, makes use of certain materials derived from paper, hemp and bamboo, and while leather trim is still offered, it is sourced in accordance with strict animal welfare criteria.

For the exterior shell, Mercedes makes use of “almost CO2 free” steel as well as “CO2 reduced” aluminium.

“The Concept CLA Class is the forerunner for an entirely new all-electric segment of entry-level vehicles at Mercedes-Benz,” said Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management.

“This new model family is inspired by a generation of car buyers who want that unmistakable Mercedes-Benz feel, with more features, even greater comfort and safety and the most advanced technology. They also seek a sustainable choice that is a cut above the rest.”

In fact, the new MMA-based family of vehicles is the first to be developed from scratch as a significant step towards the company’s “Ambition 2039”, which aims for carbon neutrality across the entire value chain, Källenius added.