2013 Detroit Auto Show: Mercedes-Benz’s compact CLA-Class “four door coupe” finally breaks cover in Detroit

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 low perspective viewMercedes-Benz calls its new CLA-Class a “style rebel,” and it seems to be rebelling against the company’s own design conventions. Radical styling first seen on the Concept Style Coupe cloaks a chassis most people don’t associate with the three-pointed star. This rebellious Benz was unveiled at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show and goes on sale later this year.

Mercedes says the CLA-Class is a “four-door coupe,” part of a category the company invented a few years ago with the CLS. As such, the CLA has a practical amount of doors, but the sloping roofline of a coupe. That’s not much of a rebellion, though.

What really makes the CLA stand out is how it ditches the formal look of other Mercedes cars. It’s design is just as overwrought as an SL or E-Class, but a curvy silhouette makes it look bold and distinctive.

We got a peek at the CLA’s winning looks in December, but the car’s Detroit unveiling gives us a better idea of what it will be like to drive.

The CLA is based on the Mercedes A-Class which means that, unlike most Mercedes, it is front-wheel drive. In the United States, it will be sold as a CLA250 only, with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

The engine features an eco-friendly start/stop function, and is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive will be available beginning in the Spring of 2014.

The CLA will also get Mercedes’ mbrace2 cloud-based infotainment system, displayed on a 5.8-inch screen. The Multimedia package adds a seven-inch screen and Mercedes’ COMAND, which balances out the software with hardware. Buyers can load their CLAs up with: a hard drive-based navigation, voice control, 10GB of music storage, an SD card slot, iPod connector, six-disc CD/DVD changer, and rearview camera.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 overhead motion viewAll of that infotainment may seem like a distraction, but there are plenty of smart safety features to pick up the slack. Collision Prevention Assist with Adaptive Braking Assist uses radar to identify the distance between the car and an obstacle, and modulates braking force to slow the car in the safest way possible.

The optional Driver Assistance package adds Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, and Parktronic autonomous parking. With Parktronic, the CLA can back itself into perpendicular or parallel spaces.

With the 2014 CLA-Class, Mercedes tried to redefine what an entry-level luxury car can be, but it could end up redefining what a Mercedes can be. Packing the tech of bigger Benzes into a stylish front- and all-wheel drive chassis is definitely unusual. We’ll see if it works out this fall, when the CLA250 goes on sale.

Product Review

Mercedes-Benz updates the timeless G-wagen for the modern world

For decades, the G-Class has been an outlier in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, a body-on-frame brute with the soul – and driving manners – of an off-road pickup. With the all-new G550, Mercedes seeks to smooth out some of the rough edges.

Has Apple rebooted its self-driving car program to develop autonomous vans?

The on-again, off-again Apple car is back on track, but it's not a sedan or a hatchback. It will arrive as an electric, autonomous passenger-carrying van, according to a recent report.

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.

2020 Kia Soul and Soul EV continue to think inside the box

The 2020 Kia Soul is the third generation of Kia's boxy curiosity. The Soul maintains its signature look, but gets tech and powertrain upgrades. The all-electric Soul EV returns as well.

Researchers teach self-driving cars to predict pedestrians’ next moves

University of Michigan researchers are developing a system that teaches self-driving cars to predict pedestrian movement. Humans don't always act in their own best self-interest, so autonomous cars will need to practice protective driving.

Subaru’s latest VIZIV concept car is pumped full of adrenaline

The Subaru VIZIV Adrenaline is the seventh member of the Japanese automaker's family of VIZIV concept cars. It debuts at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, but for now, all we're getting is a shadowy teaser image.

Audi is advancing the tech that teaches cars to talk to traffic lights

Audi is teaching its cars the language of traffic lights. The company developed technology that tells motorists what speed they should drive at in order to catch as many green lights as possible.

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.

Apple opens up about its self-driving car program in letter to NHTSA

Apple has traditionally kept details about its self-driving car technology under wraps, but it has revealed details about the program in a rare instance of openness. The company takes safety seriously.