New 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA hits wind tunnel ahead of January unveil

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The added length is concentrated mainly within the wheelbase, providing scope for larger rear door apertures, easier access to the rear seat and improved interior packaging with greater rear legroom. Autocar was granted access to the new model, known internally under the codename C118, during a recent photoshoot at the brand’s Stuttgart wind tunnel – featuring two-time ironman triathlon world champion, Jan Frodeno.

As with the first-generation CLA, it receives a coupe-like profile with a heavily curved roofline and short boot giving it a distinctly more cab back proportions than the more upright A-Class Saloon. While we are not able to reveal the new car in full, our exclusive photographs confirm the new CLA also adopts uniquely designed headlamps within a heavily tapered front end, a stretched six-window glasshouse intersected by wide B-pillars and wider haunches over the rear wheels.

Aerodynamic developments include an almost completely flat undertray with various diffuser like elements to smooth airflow at speed. Mercedes-Benz is yet to reveal details, but it is believed the new four-door comes close to matching the outstanding 0.22 Cd of its predecessor despite a larger frontal area.

The new look is a further evolution of Mercedes’ so-called ‘sensual purity’ design lineage, with smoother and fuller forms set to replace the taut surfacing treatment and heavily etched swage lines of the first-generation CLA. The design-led focus is what will distinguish the CLA from the A-Class Saloon, similar to how the larger CLS sits alongside the E-Class.

Recently seen prototypes also point the way to the look of the second-generation CLA Shooting Brake estate. Like its predecessor, it’s expected to receive a heavily stylised appearance, with a sloping roofline and heavily angled tailgate set to prioritise styling ahead of load-carrying capacity. 

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