The new Mercedes-Benz CLA is sleeker, more powerful than ever before

The successor to Mercedes-Benz's A Class, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 and CLA 250 4MATIC, is finally here. And – no surprise here – it looks like a scaled-down CLS-Class. If you've looked at the big CLS, you've pretty much seen the CLA. It has the same low nose and roofline, although the CLA's relatively larger taillights make the back look less heavy. The overhangs are smaller and everything looks more taut. The twin power bulges in the hood hark back to the 300SL Gullwing sports car. Whether you prefer the CLS or the CLA, one thing is undeniable: The new CLA looks far better than the bulbous, stubby outgoing CLA.

There are a number of appealing mechanical changes compared to the similar A-Class. The engine is a version of the 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-4 in the A-Class and the old CLA-Class. This version makes 221 horsepower, a 13-horse increase over the predecessor, and 33 more than in the A-Class. Torque matches the old model, and exceeds the A-Class by 37 pound-feet.

The new CLA-Class will available with either front-or all-wheel-drive, and both come with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Considering the engine's increased power, it should be more exciting than the A-Class, though we hope the transmission is more responsive. While the A-Class only gets multilink rear suspension on the all-wheel-drive model (the front-drive models with wheels smaller than 19 inches are saddled with a torsion-beam design), all CLA-Class models will have multilink rear suspension. Mercedes also notes that handling should be further improved over the old CLA-Class thanks to a lower center of gravity and front and rear tracks that are wider by 2.5 and 2.2 inches respectively.

The new CLA-Class's interior appears to be lifted right out of the A-Class, with two free-standing, monolithic screens for instrumentation and infotainment. This is a good thing, because we're unanimous in our opinion that the new A-Class has a vastly improved interior compared with the old CLA. The dashboard is fairly low, and the air vents are the flashy round metallic units used on most other models. The whole interior can also be bathed in myriad ambient lighting colors when properly equipped. Standard on both cars are 7-inch instrument and infotainment screens with 10.23-inch screens available as an option. Other options include a slew of driver assist systems from the top-rung S-Class such as active adaptive cruise control, lane-change assist, steering assist and parking assist.

It also comes with MBUX as standard with a gesture-based interface and a new "energizing coach" that monitors your pulse and "relaxes" you via the car's mood feature – you can read more about that system here.

Pricing hasn't been announced yet, but it should be announced closer to when the car goes on sale toward the end of 2019.

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