Mercedes-Benz launches the stunning CLA-Class in India

Mercedes-Benz India went on a new model offensive last year and was rewarded with a significant increase in sales. Not to lose the momentum that's favouring it right now, Mercedes-Benz has kicked off 2015 with the launch of CLA-Class sedan today. The CLA is the smallest and most affordable sedan wearing the three pointed star in India right now and is a product of the same Modular Front Architecture (MFA) platform that underpinned the A-Class and B-Class hatchbacks and the GLA-Class crossover before it.

The CLA 200 Sport, the sole petrol variant on offer, is priced at INR 35.00 Lakhs. The diesel-engine CLA 200 CDI is available in two trim levels - Style and Sport, that retail for INR 31.50 Lakhs and INR 35.90 Lakhs respectively. All prices are ex-showroom Delhi. While these prices might not compare favorably with the Audi A3 that starts at almost 8 Lakh Rupees less, its important to note that the initial lot of CLAs are imported as Completely Built Units (CBU) with production in India slated to begin later this year.

Inspired by the sexy CLS four-door coupe, the CLA is a visual stunner. The long hood, the striking grille with the large three pointed star, the arching roof line, the frameless doors, the boomerang character lines, the terrific detailing in those uniquely-shaped taillights and the dual exhaust pipes mounted beneath a diffuser-like plastic insert in the rear bumper combine together to create a dramatic-looking sedan that's sure to leave onlookers impressed. If you wanna turn heads, you gotta go in the CLA. Period.

Sharing most of the parts with its MFA stablemates, the CLA's cabin would look familiar for those who have seen and experienced the A, B and GLA. The three spoke steering wheel, the turbine-shaped air-conditioner vents and the brushed silver finish in the dashboard look superb while a notable improvement over its hatchback siblings come in the form of a bigger, higher-resolution, tablet-like infotainment system that pops out of the dashboard.

Feature list is extensive with the CLA boasting a 12-speaker Harman Kardon Logic 7-surround system with Bluetooth, CD and USB connectivity, leather upholstery, climate control and a panoramic sliding roof that automatically closes when it senses rain. As with most luxury cars, the safety aspect is covered with the CLA coming equipped with six airbags, Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and a host of driver assist functions like Brake Assist, Pre-SAFE, Attention Assist, Hill Hold function and Acceleration Skid Control (ASC).

Both the engines offered in the CLA are doing duty in the GLA crossover already. While the turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder petrol engine generates 181 bhp at 5500 rpm and 300 Nm of torque between 1200 to 1400 rpm, the 2.2-liter diesel engine belts out a modest 134 bhp between 3600 to 4400 rpm and 300 Nm of torque between 1600 to 3000 rpm. Mated to a 7-speed Dual Clutch automatic transmission, both these engines offer three driving modes to choose from - E (Economy), S (Sport) and M (Manual).

With the high-performance CLA45 AMG already making waves in the country, the regular CLA-Class would play a crucial role in Mercedes' attempt to topple Audi as the best-selling luxury car manufacturer in India. So, what's your next move Audi?

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