“The Mercedes A-Class saloon?” We hear you cry with befuddlement. “Isn’t that a CLA?” We can see why you’d think thusly, but no - Mercedes, the great lover of niches, is apparently still making a CLA, along with this new A-Class Saloon.
It actually gets more complicated, too: the car you see is actually the A-Class L Saloon, a Chinese-market specific model revealed today at the Beijing Motor Show. The version for the rest of the world will look pretty much the same, but have 60mm shorter wheelbase.
Other than the styling, a slightly bigger boot (420 litres as opposed to the hatchback’s 370) and more knee room for the rear-seat passengers, it’s mostly as-per the regular A-Class. Not necessarily a bad thing - we drove one a few weeks ago, and found it to be a much more impressive package than the old car.
There’s the same MBUX infotainment system based around two big display screens (the left one is there in place of a traditional instrument cluster), the option of 64-colour ambient lighting, and that lovely trio of “turbine-look’ air vents.
In terms of engines, you can have a Renault/Mercedes joint-developed 1.33-litre inline-four with either 134bhp or 161bhp, and there’s also a 188bhp 2.0-litre unit with clever-sounding things like “trumpet honing” and “Camtronic variable valve timing.” Neat.
The car will be built via a joint venture between Daimler and BAIC Motor called Beijing Benz Automotive Co, going into production during the second half of 2018. Around the same time, the shorter wheelbase version for other markets will be revealed.