The small, swoopy Mercedes CLA-Class is making its debut with a refresh for the 2024 model year, but the next-generation model is already undergoing testing. We’ve had a few curious prototype sightings featuring the cars covered toe-to-toe in camouflage, though there are questions about whether it might be an all-electric EQA sedan. Now, we know that internal combustion will continue for the next generation of models.
We thank our spy photographers in Spain for that. Caught testing at higher altitudes, the heavily camouflaged Mercedes seen here isn’t quite as well covered. Thanks to a combination of good positioning and bright sunlight, there were two identifying features of this combustion-powered test vehicle. First is the lack of a visible charging door on the right side, a feature we saw clearly on the prototype during our northern winter testing. Instead, we see a door in left side – perfectly matches the position of the fuel door on the 2024 PKB.
The second item is not the actual smoking gun, but smoking. Zooming in below the rear fascia, the photographer captured one exhaust pipe hiding in plain sight. It is mounted further back in the fascia, exiting to the right of the license plate. Also, we’ve seen no evidence that this is a plug-in hybrid model, so we’re most likely dealing with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that incorporates a 48-volt mild hybrid system.
That is the main conclusion of this collection of spy photos. The exterior remains tightly sealed, with all kinds of panels and protrusions covering key areas at the front and rear. Everything is clad in white/black camouflage, and placeholder taillights are easily visible at the rear. Meanwhile, the headlights are highly detailed, giving us a preview of the new oval themed eyes flanking the grille which is likely lower than you might expect. Note the faux bulge on the bonnet which makes the front appear taller than it really is.
The next CLA uses the Mercedes Modular Architecture (MMA) platform. It is designed to accommodate all powertrains – battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and combustion power. We’ve now seen at least two versions if not all three, but it will likely be quite a while before all is revealed. The CLA 2024 facelift is still new, so expect the debut of the next generation until next year or even later.