For the past year or so, spy photographers have been following Mercedes-Benz engineers all over the world to capture a glimpse of the brand's upcoming CLA premium compact sedan, or as the Germans are likely to describe the car in their press material, a four-door coupe.
Naturally, the brand with the shining star has always been careful to keep the prototype and pre-production models of the CLA well hidden under foil wraps and plenty of plastic cladding.
However, with the official presentation of the CLA coming closer every day, at some point, Mercedes-Benz had to remove the camo to complete the necessary photo and video shoots that always take place in remote locations. Little did they know that when they did, someone would be out there to capture the production car in its…birthday suit.
That someone was Bernhard Kohlmeier who was vacationing with his family in Iceland at the Northern Light Inn situated within walking distance of the famed Blue Lagoon (more on Bernhard's experience and first thoughts on the car's looks after the jump).
The first question that arose upon looking at the photos sent to CarScoop by Bernhard was whether the silver-colored car was a regular CLA with a sport package or the officially confirmed CLA 45 AMG.
Despite the aero package and sport alloy wheels, the absence of an AMG logo on the front fenders right behind the wheels and the presence of the so-called "diamond grille", tell us that this CLA is not the 45 AMG but the AMG Sport trim line model that's also available on the A-Class five-door hatchback featuring the same cosmetic upgrades.
As expected, the appearance of the production version is less spectacular than the hunkered down and aggressive looking Concept Style Coupé (or CSC for short) revealed this past April.
The styling and the proportions of the body are very similar to the larger CLS with the front end of the car being identical to that of the hatch. The similarities with the A-Class are likely to continue inside, since the two cars belong to the same family of models sharing their underpinnings and mechanical hardware as well.
The CLA will be very close (if not slightly longer and wider) in size to the current C-Class, offering buyers the option of front- or all-wheel drive versions. It is expected that Mercedes-Benz will position the car both in terms of pricing and features right under the C-Class.
For the most part and always depending on the market, the CLA's engine range will mirror that of the A-Class hatchback offering buyers a choice of four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines topping out on the regular model with the 2.0-liter turbocharged unit rated at 208hp (211PS).
Sitting at the top of the range will be the CLA 45 AMG, which Mercedes-Benz has told us will get a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine with 330hp (335PS) and more than 295lb ft (400Nm) of peak torque, connected to an AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed dual clutch transmission and all-wheel drive.
It has been reported, but not confirmed, that the CLA will make its first public appearance at the 2013 Detroit Motor Show next January with worldwide sales (including North America) to follow later in the same year.
In the meantime, you can head over the jump to read Bernhard Kohlmeier's account of his encounter with the CLA and check out the revealing spy pictures.
Bernhard Kohlmeier was in for quite a surprise while vacation in Iceland earlier this month as out of the blue - or in this case, the foggy atmosphere, Mercedes-Benz's people appeared with the new CLA for a photo shoot. We asked Bernhard to tell us about the encounter with the CLA and what he thought about the "baby" CLS's looks.
"John, it was actually a pretty amazing experience. The weather was very bad, basically raining sideways and we were on the way from our hotel to the Blue Lagoon when we saw that the road that forks off to the power plant was blocked by a Mercedes SUV. Not a car you usually suspect to see as roadblock.
A couple hours later when we came back there was an additional car guarding the road with security staff and behind the SUV blocking the road. I saw a BMW X5 with a huge camera book mounted on the roof with a professional video camera hanging from the boom in front about a foot off the ground.
I told my family that this looked like a professional video production and because they had security, it must be about something secret. So when we got to the hotel about 100 yards further down the other direction, we went up on to the view platform they usually use for watching northern lights. From there we could see the other road with some sections blocked from view by lava rocks. All while fog and steam from the power plant blowing by.
We tried to figure out what was going on when I saw a couple of inches of the car poking out behind a rock and could see the camouflage so I knew it must me a pre-release car!
After waiting for a while the car started moving, just inches at first, almost rocking back and forth. After ten more minutes, it suddenly came out and did what looked like a dry run. That is when I took the camo picture. It did that a few times and disappeared from view.
At that point, we thought that this was all we would get and my boys went back downstairs, starting to get bored. I waited a little longer and just about when I was ready to head back down, I saw an arm coming up behind the rock, ripping off the camo!
I ran to get the boys back and we saw the car without the camo doing dry runs, some of the pictures were then taken standing on a wall on their terrace when the security guards saw us we eventually went back in.
The car did some pretty speedy runs and I actually liked it quite a bit, it looked very dynamic and appeared larger than an A class. I liked the lines and the front, but didn't care too much for the back. From the front and side definitely a great looking car!"
All Photo Credits Bernhard Kohlmeier for CarScop