Mercedes-Benz may build next-generation CLA at Mexican joint venture site

Article by Anita Panait, on July 15, 2013

Mercedes-Benz may produce the next-generation CLA compact car in Mexico as part of a joint venture with Nissan, Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche remarked to Automotive News. He said that a decision on the matter would be out early 2014. Zetsche said the CLA compact would be built at Nissan’s Aguascalientes site in Mexico starting in 2018, adding that the Japanese carmaker would expand the plant to prepare for the assembly of the Mercedes model.

Nissan has said it will expand its Aguascalientes site to produce a derivative for its Infiniti brand. Mercedes will start selling the first generation of the Germany-built CLA this fall. Zetsche told Automotive News that Mercedes aims to trim its exposure to currency swings by hiking output in North America, noting that Mexico is the “best location” for the United States.

He also noted that a joint venture with Nissan would make more economic sense than building a new site. Daimler’s chairman quipped that the CLA would be produced in Mexico since it is highest-production car for the US. The new CLA compact car is underpinned by a new front-wheel-drive platform that also underpins the B-class hatchback, the GLA crossover and the A-class hatchback. 

Looking at the CLA, its athletic proportions are truly impressive and this is combined with that strong dynamic design language. Add in how the convex and concave surfaces interact with each other and this results in a unique look for this four-door coupé. The model has a number of prominent features and one of these is the bonnet that has been fixed on the front section.

On the bonnet, the company put in powerdomes as well as the diamond radiator grille. The cover glass of the headlamp has LEDs and light modules positioned behind it. These light module and LEDs have been placed in a manner that results to the indicators and daytime driving lights having that well-known “flare effect.”

This light signet is what gives the CLA a more energetic look and at the same time shape the new face of the brand. There are also various details on the CLA that on a design level shows that even if the CLS is considered a modern classic, it can still be developed further. By making use of three pronounced lines, the CLA reveals a structure that can be seen when looked at from its side.

The first characteristic dropping line forms the structural edge on the front which is above the wings and flows to the rear section. The second line is stronger and goes along the whole shoulder muscle, above the rear axle. Finally, the third is a feature line that begins from the wheel in the front and extends in a sweeping curve all the way to the rear.

Combined, the three lines help give the side profile a considerable level of dynamism and depth. Going to the rear section, one feature is that it puts focus on the width. The rear end also emanates sportiness and power. It also shows an excellent interplay between the convex edges and surfaces with that of the concave ones.

The rear window remains to have that well-known curvature but has been made prominent. Mixed in with the sloping roof contour, it lets the CLA have that coupé-style quality even from the rear. This athletic impression is also credited to the drawn-in C-pillars which complement the shoulder muscle that is above the arch linings of the rear wheels.

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