With the new A- and B-Class out of the way, Mercedes-Benz designers can flex their creative muscle on flashier variants that will use the new front-drive MFA platform, like the Concept Style Coupe. Mercedes hopes its affordable, entry-level MFA-based vehicles will lure in younger buyers, and the Concept Style Coupe — set to debut at this month’s Auto China show in Beijing — should definitely excite those who lust for the CLS but can’t afford its $72,175 price tag.
We spoke with Mercedes-Benz head designer Gorden Wagener, who told us that 90 percent of what we see in the concept car will make it to production. Once it reaches production, the “baby CLS” will be wearing CLA badges, referencing its designation as a coupe as well as its A-Class roots. Since style was the obvious objective for the concept, we’re not surprised to see design cues pulled from the CLS, one of the most stylish vehicles in the Benz lineup. Like the CLS, the Concept Style Coupe features a coupe-like profile with a number of character lines in a design Mercedes describes as sinewy, sculptural, and masculine. Though Mercedes says the concept has no B-pillar , we expect the production version to retain B-pillars to keep costs down and structural rigidity up. Completing the profile are 20-inch, turbine-style rims.
Designers also drew inspiration from the A-Class hatch, evident from the diamond-patterned grille and lower air dam. The Concept Style Coupe, however, sports sleeker headlights that feature turn signal indicators with rows of lights that light up sequentially. The sinewy theme continues with the hood, which sports two power bulges. Out back, CLS influences are evident with triangular-shaped LED taillights. Standout features include a prominent lip on the trunk deck and a rear diffuser finished in the same diamond pattern used up front.
Inside, the four-passenger cabin is a mix of suede, leather, carbon fiber, and metallic accents. Fluorescent yellow accents are used for seat piping, contrast stitching, and the jet-engine-inspired air vents. The backlit vents change color depending on the selected temperature — red for warm, blue for cool, and yellow at mid-range to match the other bright interior accents. The suede headliner surrounds a large, panoramic sunroof. The center stack is similar to the A-Class with the audio controls placed in the middle, while the climate controls and the COMAND control knob sit below. Younger buyers should have no issue navigating the next-generation COMAND infotainment system, which Benz says will focus on cloud computing. That means apps and system updates will run “over the air” (OTA) via a mobile phone connection. Benz’s future COMAND system is expected to mimic smartphones, and should definitely resonate with younger customers.
Like the A-Class, the Concept Style Coupe is powered by a four-cylinder engine. The concept’s 2.0-liter, turbocharged mill is rated at 208 hp, while a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission sends power to all four wheels via Benz’s 4Matic system. Official powertrain and drivetrain options for the CLA coupe haven’t been announced, but we expect a less expensive front-drive variant will be offered. The production-spec CLA should be a no-brainer for customers who don’t need the versatility and passenger capacity of the A- and B-Class but crave a more eye-catching ride. Mercedes will start producing the CLA sometime next year, and it should arrive in showrooms shortly after the B-Class.