Mercedes Benz issues CLA spy shots

Such is the state of ‘spy’ photography these days that car companies not only stage their own, they also embed information into the camouflage. By the time Benz rips the CLA’s covers off at the Detroit Auto Show next month, there will be very little left to tell of its sleek new sedan 'caught' undergoing high altitude testing.

We know the CLA four-door sedan shares its underbody structure with the A-class and B-class hatchbacks. Therefore, we know it’ll be powered by a vast range of four-cylinder turbocharged engines, 1.6 and 2.0-litre in petrol form, 1.5, 1.8 and 2.1-litre in diesel form. We’re also pretty sure there will be a non-turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. What we’re not sure about is which engines will be available when the CLA hits Australia in the second half of 2013.

We know most models will be front-drive, and the more powerful CLA250 2.0-litre turbo will get Benz’s 4motion all-wheel drive which brings the rear axle into play when the front wheels start to slip. The higher-performance CLA AMG 45 model, powered by a 260kW version of the same 2.0-litre four, will get a tweaked 4motion which favours the rear axle for a more sporty drive.

Having driven the A-class, we’re also pretty confident the CLA will run BMW’s 1-Series close in real-world driving dynamics, although we are interested to find out just how close this sleek front-drive comes to the benchmark BMW.

As for the car itself, it's said to be indistiguishable from the real thing. It's made of carbon fibre and composites, and is fitted with Pirelli F1 tyres and AP Racing or Brembo racing brakes. So, grab an engine, ditch the screens and we'll see you on the grid in Monaco, yes?

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