The new Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé: Automotive intelligence can be this beautiful

The new Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé is not only the most emotional vehicle in its class, it is also highly intelligent: From MBUX Interior Assist, which recognises operational demands from gestures and equips the interior with intelligence, through augmented reality for navigation and understanding indirect voice commands to the ENERGIZING COACH that provides individual fitness recommendations, the new CLA offers an array of clever solutions. There are also ingenious details when it comes to the aerodynamics and new functions for the Intelligent Drive driving assistance package. The design underlines the coupé character with its stretched form and design elements such as the bonnet with powerdomes or the rear licence plate which has been moved down. As such it does justice to its predecessor’s status as a design icon.

With MBUX, Mercedes-Benz has been revolutionising how to operate a car and communicate with it since the launch of the A-Class. “Now we go to the next level with an intelligent interior assistance system for the compact class. By recognising gestures it facilitates natural operation,” says Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “This is not the only new feature by which the CLA offers a great deal of automotive intelligence.”

In its first year, the new CLA will also be available as an Edition 1. In terms of both the exterior and the interior, this limited edition special model has numerous visual accents which underline its exclusivity. The new CLA will be manufactured at the Kecskemét plant (Hungary) and comes onto the market in May 2019.

Design: pure emotion

“As a four-door coupé, the new CLA intrigues with its puristic, seductive design and sets new standards in the design DNA of ‘ sensual purity’. It impresses with its perfect proportions reflecting the first design sketch: a long, stretched bonnet, a compact greenhouse, a wide track with exposed wheel arches and our typical GT rear end with a strong distinctive ‘Coke-bottle shoulder’ ,” says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer of Daimler AG. “ In short – the CLA Coupé has the potential to become a modern design icon.”

The combination of the long, stretched entry line above the windows and frameless doors give the CLA Coupé its unmistakeable sporty and elegant character. Forming the front end is the striking front section which is raked forwards like a shark nose with a long, stretched bonnet featuring powerdomes.

Flat headlamps together with the low slung bonnet and the diamond radiator grille with central star create the vehicle’s sporty face. The two-piece, narrow tail lamps and the number plate housed in the bumper make the rear of the CLA look especially wide.

Suspension: exceptionally agile and yet comfortable

In terms of driving dynamics, too, the new CLA keeps the promise of its design: A wide track (an extra 63 mm at the front and 55 mm more at the rear compared to its predecessor) and a lower centre of gravity are the two key features which give the CLA the sportiest driving characteristics of all models in the new generation of compacts from Mercedes-Benz. The technical specification includes a decoupled multi-link axle at the rear for reduced noise and vibration, a Direct-Steer system as standard and hydromounts at the front. A stabiliser bar with a larger diameter reduces body roll. As an option, an active adaptive damping system is available, giving the driver the choice between comfort or a more uncompromising sporty tuning. The range of wheels starts at 16 inches and goes up to 19 inches with tyre sizes starting at 205/60 R 16 and ending as standard at 225/40 R 19. The ESP®has been specially adapted to the CLA’s potentially high cornering speeds and handling performance.

MBUX Interior Assist: an even greater experience

By recognising movements MBUX Interior Assist brings added intelligence to the interior. Thanks to innovative technology, MBUX now supports the occupants by making various comfort and MBUX functions even simpler and more intuitive. Interior Assist operates in non-contact mode and functions both in sunlight and in complete darkness.

It enables the adaptation of screen content as soon as a hand approaches the touchscreen in the dashboard or the touchpad on the centre console, for example. Individual elements are highlighted according to the currently active menu. In addition, the system is able to distinguish between the driver’s and front passenger’s wishes and thus knows for whose seat the massage function is to be activated, for example.

A special feature of Interior Assist is the personal favourites function. It is accessed by holding a hand over the centre console with the index and middle finger spread in a V-shape. In this way, any command which is controllable via MBUX can be stored for simple access. One typical favourite command is ‘navigate me home’. As the system is able to reliably recognise who is operating it, the driver and front passenger respectively can even assign different favourites to the same hand position.

There are other functions which can be controlled intuitively, without any need to practice corresponding gestures: In the dark, the reading lamp can be switched on and off by briefly extending a hand towards the rear-view mirror, for example. If the driver reaches over towards the unoccupied front passenger seat in the dark, it will be illuminated automatically. This makes it easier to find any items which may have been deposited on the seat. As soon as the person’s hand leaves this area, the light automatically switches off again.

Hey Mercedes: better understanding and even cleverer responses

State-of-the-art of voice control can also be experienced in the CLA. Here too seat recognition has been implemented. The voice assistance only responds to the commands of the person who last said ‘Hey Mercedes’ to activate the system. In the American market initially, the voice assistant can recognise and respond to considerably more complex queries, for example: ‘Find child-friendly Asian restaurants nearby with 4-star rating which are neither Chinese nor Japanese. ’ There is also a growing number of domains for which MBUX can understand complex questions and quickly reply: these include sport (‘Hey Mercedes, how did the San Francisco 49ers play? ’), the stock exchange (‘Compare the share price of Apple Incorporated to Microsoft’), calculations (‘ What is the square root of 3? ’) or general knowledge (‘How big is Texas? ’, ‘What is the fat content of avocados? ’).

ENERGIZING comfort control: wellness while driving

Energizing comfort control links various comfort systems in the vehicle. The intelligent recommendations from the Energizing COACH in the ENERGIZING Package Plus are completely new. In general, the ENERGIZING comfort control systematically uses the functions of the air conditioning system and the seats (heater, ventilation, massage) as well as lighting and musical moods, and enables a specific wellness set-up tailored to the mood and need of the customer.

ENERGIZING packages: the next step in intelligent comfort

ENERGIZING packages with the ENERGIZING COACH are new. This service based on an intelligent algorithm recommends one of the ENERGIZING packages’ programmes depending on the situation and individual. The Mercedes-Benz vivoactive® 3 Smartwatch has its world première at CES. If it or another compatible Garmin®wearable is worn, personal stats such as stress level or quality of sleep optimise the accuracy of the recommendation. The aim is for passengers to feel well and relaxed even during demanding or monotonous journeys. In addition, the pulse rate supplied by the integrated Garmin wearable is shown on the media display.

Intelligent Drive: functions from the S-Class

The CLA has the very latest driving assistance systems with cooperative driver support, and thus provides the highest level of active safety in this segment with functions adopted from the S‑C lass. For the first time, the CLA is able to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations. To do this, it keeps a close eye on the traffic situation. Improved camera and radar systems allow it to see up to 500 metres ahead. The CLA also uses map and navigation data for assistance functions. For example, Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC as part of the optional Driving Assistance Package is able to provide route-based support to the driver in numerous situations, and to predictively and conveniently adjust the speed, e.g. when approaching bends, junctions or roundabouts. Also on board are e.g. Active Emergency Stop Assist and intuitively understandable Active Lane Change Assist.

The new CLA comes with enhanced Active Brake Assist as standard. Depending on the situation, it can effectively help to mitigate the consequences of rear-end collisions with slower-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles ahead, and even with crossing pedestrians and cyclists, or to prevent them altogether.

Active Lane Keeping Assist (likewise standard) is able to warn the driver by means of pulsed vibrations in the steering wheel when the vehicle is unintentionally drifting out of its lane at speeds between 60 and 200 km/h. If the vehicle passes over a solid line, it can pull the vehicle back into lane by applying the brakes on one side. In the case of a dotted line, such intervention takes place only when there is a danger of collision with a vehicle in the adjacent lane (including danger from oncoming traffic).

PRE-SAFE® PLUS can recognise an imminent rear-end collision. If the danger of a collision persists, the system can also firmly apply the brakes of the stationary vehicle, thus lowering the risk of injuries by reducing the forward jolt caused by an impact from the rear.

MULTIBEAM LED headlamps: better visibility in all conditions

Another example of automotive intelligence and the transfer of technology from the luxury segment to the compact class are the optional MULTIBEAM LED headlamps. They allow extremely quick and precise, electronically controlled adjustment of the headlamps to suit the current traffic situation. Each headlamp on the CLA incorporates 18 individually controllable LEDs. The daylight-like light colour of the LEDs is easy on the eyes and has a positive effect on concentration. The road ahead is precisely and brightly illuminated. LED High Performance headlamps are a further option. As standard, the new CLA is equipped with halogen headlamps with integrated LED daytime driving lamps. The tail lamps are also available with all-LED technology

Drive system: start with the most powerful engine

At the trade show presentation in Las Vegas, the CLA on display is the CLA 250 with the powerful four-cylinder petrol engine (165 kW/225 hp, 350 Nm) with 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmission (combined fuel consumption 6.3-6.1 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions 143-140 g/km)[1]. By the market launch in May, there will be a broad range of diesel and petrol engines available featuring manual or dual-clutch transmissions and 4MATIC all-wheel drive.

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