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Mercedes-Benz is pitching the CLA 250 as an approachably priced entry into the triple-pointed star, but the sedan's $29,900 MSRP wouldn't mean much without appropriately low fuel economy numbers.

Though it has yet to receive official EPA numbers, we've got a hunch the CLA will score a surprisingly strong highway fuel economy rating. Why the confidence? Is it the turbo four's modest 208 hp output and stop/start capability? The flexibility of the new 7-speed dual clutch gearbox? Those ingredients don't hurt, but the crowning clue is the German carmaker's claimed drag coefficient of .23, which makes this swoopy sedan the most aerodynamically efficient car on the planet-- slipperier than the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius, which both claim a cD of .25.

The boast is partially attributable to typical wind cheating cues like low a-pillar arches and serrated spoilers at the front and rear wheel arches, but Mercedes-Benz engineers also paid extra care to the underside, which is clad with all manner of baffles, slotted wheel well liners, and flat covers over everything from the engine to the rear spring links. Since the muffler couldn't be covered due to its heat generation, the structure itself was instead formed into a flat shape, finishing off the airflow with an aerodynamically clean flourish.

The CLA's attractive starting price is certainly a strong draw for the younger buyers Mercedes hopes to attract, but it may just be strong fuel economy numbers-- aided by exceptional aerodynamics-- that tip the scales for those crucial conquest customers.


Read more: The Slippery Mercedes-Benz CLA 250: What Lies Beneath - Popular Mechanics
 

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Wow they really put alot of thought into keeping the bottom flat. The muffler is tucked in. I'm going to assume the main cover is just part of the chassis?

Not sure what all that stuff in the front is. Front wheel spoiler? How does that work o.0

Having such an aerodynamic underside also helps keep the car on the ground in high speeds too. It almost creates a vacuum like effect. Good front stability for front wheel drive cars when entering high speed turns.
 

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The only problem with all that is that the CLA 250 has a Cd of 0.28, not 0.23. The skinny-tired CLA 180 has 0.23.
 
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