2024 Mercedes-Benz CLA estate - plus new saloon, GLA and GL
New CLA Shooting Brake stars in compact Merc shake-up. Four new-era small Mercedes with EV and combustion power are inbound, as the A-Class and B-Class are axed.
Merc’s Tesla-killing load-lugger
Mercedes-Benz will launch a shooting brake version of the forthcoming new CLA, as well as electric-focused successors to the GLA and GLB SUVs, as part of a renewed attack on the compact vehicle class. The three new models will follow the production version of the sleek Concept CLA, due to arrive in late 2024 as a saloon with an electric range of up to 466 miles thanks to a prevailing development focus on efficiency. Mercedes boss Ola Källenius has said the new CLA will be one of four compact models to use the new Mercedes Modular Architecture (MMA) platform.
The MMA replaces the firm’s MFA architecture, which was developed for combustion-engined cars and then adapted for EVs. The new platform was created with a focus on electric powertrains and has the ability to accept differing motor types and drive layouts. It also uses an 800V architecture that can allow for faster charging and different battery chemistries.
Although it is an EV-first platform, MMA can still support combustion engines and the CLA will be launched with a choice of both powertrains. That will give Mercedes what Källenius refers to as “strategic flexibility” while it moves towards a fully zero-emission line-up.
The four new models will mark a major revamp of the firm’s compact line-up in which the current A-Class and B-Class will not be directly replaced – with the new CLA becoming Mercedes’ entry-level machine. Despite this, sales boss Britta Seeger confirmed the company is committed to the compact segment, saying “we will adapt our offering”.
She added: “It’s about finding the right customers in all segments. As we have from A[-Class] to S, and in the future from CLA to S, we want to have the best products in each segment.”
Notably, the Concept CLA features a number of elements that will be used across not just the four new compact models but all of Mercedes’ future EV line-up. These include key design features such as the new-look daytime-running lights that incorporate the company’s three-pointed star, and the revamped front grille area. However, Mercedes bosses have vowed that each model will also be given its own identity.
A priority will be to push the models further upmarket by drawing on luxury design concepts and Mercedes rich heritage. Källenius has cited a focus on maximising the “desire” of models, saying: “We’re dedicated to building the Mercedes of EVs – instead of just EVs from Mercedes.” Seeger added: “What we give to the car is the Mercedes DNA. We know that for customers who are interested in Mercedes, the main reasons are exterior design, interior design, safety, innovation and comfort.”
The next-generation CLA Shooting Brake will, as with the existing generation, be based closely on the saloon version – and it is likely to be one of the first compact luxury electric estates to hit the market. It will have a similar model line-up to the regular CLA, including what is tipped to be a choice of a 58kWh lithium-ironphosphate (LFP) battery and an 85kWh nickel-manganesecobalt (NMC) option.
Although the shooting brake won’t be quite as aerodynamically efficient as the CLA Saloon – which has a claimed average energy consumption of 5.2mpkWh – maximising its efficiency will still be a key goal. As a result, it will adopt similar aerodynamic principles to the saloon that were pioneered on the EQXX concept, which last year travelled from Stuttgart to Silverstone – 747 miles – on a single charge.
An official preview image of the four compact models shows that the two SUVs will occupy similar market positions to the cars they succeed. The next-gen GLA (which the electric EQA is currently based on) adopts a crossover profile and the GLB (EQB) successor continues with a blockier, more overtly 4x4-inspired silhouette. The more upright stature of the GLB should enable Mercedes to continue offering the electric version with seven seats – currently a unique feature in its segment.
The two SUVs will be crucial for Mercedes, with Seeger noting that the current EQA and EQB are particularly popular in Europe.
All four models will feature a range of both combustion and EV powertrains. The electric options are set to include single-motor two-wheel-drive and twin-motor all-wheel-drive layouts. Mercedes claims that a new lightweight two-speed electric transmission being developed in-house allows for 93% of the energy in the battery to be delivered to the wheels – making it around twice as efficient as a combustion-engined car.
There will also be AMG performance versions of the four new models. Although no details of these have been released yet, they are likely to feature significant power increases and tweaked chassis settings to offer improved dynamics and performance.
As well as its efficiency-focused in-house unit, Mercedes is working with British firm Yasa on an axialflux electric motor, which has been shown in the One-Eleven supercar concept. The technology is claimed to offer increased power and torque density, alongside significant packaging benefits.
It is currently being developed for large-scale production by Mercedes, although it isn’t yet clear if it could be used in the Benz-badged compact models or will be reserved for the stand-alone Mercedes-AMG models that will use the forthcoming bespoke AMG.EA platform.
Technology will play a vital role in the entry-level models’ focus on the luxury market, in particular through the latest use of the firm’s MB.OS operating system and infotainment. Källenius vowed this will enable a “fundamentally enhanced customer experience”, which will include advanced driving assistance systems that traditionally have not been offered on entry-level models. The Concept CLA also features a new version of the MBUX Superscreen, offered in larger models such as the EQE and EQS, including connected options like video streaming for the front passenger while the car is in use.
Superscreen of CLA concept will appear in production versions. New GLB will be engineered as an EV first and foremost. Superscreen of CLA concept will appear in production versions.
Axial-flux motor of Merc-owned UK firm Yasa offers big benefits.
Today’s EQA and EQB will be succeeded by the new GLA and GLB.
Today’s CLA Shooting Brake is ICE-only; new one will also be an EV. Mercedes will push the models further upmarket by drawing on luxury design and rich heritage. New CLA Saloon, Shooting Brake, GLA and GLB are on the way.