Mercedes Benz CLA45 AMG

Wannabe rally racer!

"The most powerful series production four cylinder turbo engine in the world"

"The car brags attention, and there's no second thought to find a label that reads "Mini CLS" said Ershad

"Civilized and with a rowdy punch of 355hp, it is a wannabe rally racer!"

"The snarly AMG tone out of the exhaust is deeper and louder than any typical turbo four cylinders. It's not a V8 burble but almost as good!"

Not everything in Affalterbach is normal nowadays, and it seems the AMG team has a new mainstay block in office. V blocks are mundane and the A45 AMG (for me, the best Merc last year) sort of opened a room for new inline 4s. It was a great attempt, picking a gentle four cylinder engine and cranking it into something extremely powerfully turbocharged, with all wheel drive and completely insane to drive. With the most powerful series production four cylinder turbo engine in the world, Mercedes Benz went ahead with the launch of the CLA45 AMG, a compact sport sedan or a four door sports coupe.

The car brags attention, and there's no second thought to find a label that reads "Mini CLS". Featured lines on the body along with sensuous curves are just awesome. You can see the AMG elements on the "twin blade" radiator grille, cross strut in the AMG front apron and the squared-off chrome exhaust tips. The rear spoiler has a nice spot in the back and colored gloss black. Our tester was an Edition 1 model with red highlights on the AMG radiator grille, brake calipers and exterior mirrors. We will let the pictures tell the story.

Good attention was paid to keep the sporty feel inside thanks to AMG Performance seats, steering wheel and floor mats. Red seatbelts were striking and the multifunction steering wheel was dressed up in nappa leather. Seats were made of ARTICO man-made leather with red contrasting topstitching. The gear lever was embossed with an AMG emblem and the cross-shaped air vents occupied a good deal of space on the dash - as if they were taken from the SLK cockpit. We could not hide the lousy part of it, though, such as some hard, cheap plastic on the front along with the gauge cluster and tacked-on infotainment system screen that are yet to convince at least a few in terms of positioning. Some room for second row passengers has been compromised due to the car's sloping roofline design. In the boot area, the spare wheel placed awkwardley under the surface took away some room too.

So we are talking about a 2.0 liter four cylinder engine that can get you a staggering output of 355bhp and 450Nm torque on a standard performance oriented AMG 4MATIC AWD system via an AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT seven speed sports transmission. Unlike in the A45 AMG, the CLA45 uses special crank shafts and piston material. Here, they've used a stronger sand-cast rather than die-cast aluminum block. All of this accounts to match A45's performance after the extra added length and weight on the same wheelbase. The main difference is, however, is that CLA is fractionally softer on road - a mark that was literally inevitable in a saloon.

The snarly AMG tone out of the exhaust is deeper and louder than any typical turbo four cylinder. It's not a V8 burble but almost as good! But the ride was on the jittery side. You can't avoid the abuse from the bumps and potholes on road, but that's nothing to worry about on a short city ride.

355hp is mean for a 2.0 liter engine. After a bit of haze right off the line, acceleration was fast and angry all the way to the red line. In Sport mode, stability control seized a bit, to offer supreme torque at the rear axle, to balance the extra punch. There's a matter few seconds of waiting for the transmission to choose the right gear and then you can open up the turbo to join in. Steering feedback was lively, direct and had a good weight to it. When you push hard on corners, the rear holds on well, to my surprise, but not quite like a hardcore AWD.

The CLA45 has an exclusive feature in the all wheel drive with the 3-stage ESP and the ESP Curve Dynamic Assist. It lets the brake intervene on one or more wheels and reduces the engine torque if things go unstable. It's a matter of time and drivers will get a nice sense of gear shifting as I did in just three good days (with gear paddles under the steering). CLA45 was not as brisk as the A45; there's no denying that the latter was full of fun and rush. The car doesn't need to be any quicker, and all you have to do is some sensible work in the cabin and to improve the auto gearshifts.

Verdict
We need to find a place for this tester. The sedan wouldn't compete with the A45 as it's a completely new preposition. So let's put it this way. Here's a 2.0 liter sedan that looks "civilized", but with a rowdy punch of 355hp, it is a wannabe rally racer!

Pros: striking looks, red accents in the Edition 1 model, nice entry to an AMG four door sedan, power 
Cons: tight space in the second row, awkward cargo room, cheap hard plastic feel on the dash
Rivals: BMW M135i, Audi S3 
Engine: 2.0 liter turbocharged, 4 cylinder, 355 hp @ 6000 rpm, 450Nm @ 2250 rpm 
Transmission: 7 speed automatic, AWD 
Performance: 0-100 kph: 4.6 sec, 7.2 L /100 km, top speed: 250 kph 
Weight: 1587 kg
3 STARS
One word: rowdy

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