The Mercedes-Benz CLA Class is the German automaker’s attempt to make an affordable small sedan. They start at $29,900 and are hoping to bring new people to the Mercedes family for life. However, Mercedes’ in-house performance brand AMG couldn’t leave the CLA alone. They built the $63,815 CLA45 AMG that you see here. What have they changed to more than double the price of the CLA 250, and do the changes justify the price? Let’s take one for a drive and find out.
The big selling point of this AMG product is the engine. The 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo engine makes 355 hp and 332 lb/ft of torque. If you are keeping score, that makes this engine the most powerful 4-cylinder production engine in the world.
That gets transmitted to the road via an all-wheel drive system and a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. The spec sheet reads like a high-end sports car, with space to haul kids and luggage around.
Standard safety features include a collision prevention system and an attention system to keep the driver alert. Other standard features include Bluetooth, a touch screen and rain sensing wipers.
Optional extras raise the price considerably. AMG performance seats add $3,750. A navigation system and rear-view camera adds $2,300. An additional $950 adds blind spot monitoring and a lane keeping system.
We like the exterior looks of the CLA45. The roof line over the rear doors does make it difficult to climb in and out of, but the swollen fenders, rear diffuser and big bumper intakes make the car look as fast as it is.
It is fast and exciting. 60 miles per hour comes up in about 4.5 seconds. The exhaust makes a burping noise every time the car changes gear. Mash the go pedal and the wheels will struggle for traction.
Unfortunately, the excitement doesn’t carry over to the interior. The touch screen for the COMMAND system looks like a Samsung Galaxy S5 gaffer taped to the dash. Red seatbelts hold you in place. For some the look might be sporty, but for us it’s a little tacky.
The seats are grippy, but not as comfortable as we’d want in a car driven every day. The suspension is also a bit stiff for daily driving. For $60,ooo we’d like to see an option for an adjustable suspension to make it more comfortable on the street.
The automatic transmission works fine in normal driving, but falls short if the driver controls it via the paddles on the steering wheel. When accelerating rapidly, there is a delay from pulling the paddle to when the shift actually occurs. On more than one occasion we hit the rev limiter while waiting for the car to decide to shift. In a performance oriented car, this is unacceptable.
With such power on tap, we’re surprised to see the CLA45 get 31 mpg on the highway. If you drive carefully you’ll get the economy of a normal car. But a car like this demands that you drive it quickly.
We walked away from our first drive with mixed emotions. We love the power, and we love that Mercedes-Benz allowed this type of project to go through. We also like the exterior design. The car sounds great when driven quickly, giving it its own unique character.
We don’t like the cramped rear seats or the red seatbelts. Mercedes-Benz needs to find a better way to integrate their COMMAND system screen in this vehicle. We’d also like to see an update to the transmission programming so that it’s as sporty as the car is.
It’s a fun car that’s flawed. But it does have it’s own character. Compared to the BMW M235i, we like that Mercedes gives us a back seat, even if it’s not that usable. Our biggest disappointment is ultimately the price. The car doesn’t feel premium enough for a $63,000 asking price.
|Motor Review Fast Facts:|
|Trim Package:||CLA45 AMG|
|Fuel Economy:||31mpg city / 23mpg highway / 26mpg combined|
|Engine:||2.0L Turbo I4|
|Transmission:||7-speed Dual Clutch Automated Manual|
|Horsepower and Torque:||355hp and 332lbs/ft|
|Price as Tested:||$63,815|
|Pros:||Fast. Fuel economy.|
|Cons:||Pricey once you add options you want.|
|Final Thoughts:||Good first attempt, but we’d like to see it a bit cheaper.|
|Vehicle provided by manufacturer for review.|