The small car of the moment is undoubtedly the Mercedes-Benz CLA. Starting at a Ford Fusion-like $29,900 it seems to be quite a bargain for German engineering and performance. Even though the pedestrian CLA250 will probably be the volume seller in the United States, the German automaker will be offering the hopped-up AMG version Stateside in the coming months boasting the most powerful production 4-cylinder engine in the world. The 2.0L engine makes a whopping 178hp per liter of displacement. For those not wanting to do the math, that is a 355hp turbocharged 4-banger under the hood of the latest entry-level Mercedes-Benz. To give you some perspective of exactly how much horsepower 355 really is, we have come up with a list of some sports cars that currently make, or made in the past, less horsepower than this Autobahn burner.
5th Generation Chevrolet Corvette
On sale from 1997-2004, the C5 Corvette was the last generation of GM’s sports car to carry pop-up headlights. Also, the base model in its heyday only produced 350hp from a 5.7L V8. Built in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the C5 Corvette was the product of what car enthusiasts can do when car enthusiasts build a car. Now, less than a decade later, a family-man can purchase a 4-door sedan with more horsepower from half the cylinders.
E46 BMW ///M3
The E46 M3 was the last BMW to feature a naturally aspirated inline 6-cylinder motor. In other words, it does not use a turbo. Making 333hp from a 3.2L engine, the E46 M3 was produced from 2001-2006. This particular version of the M3 was regarded as one of the best sports cars on the planet, and in 2009 Road and Track magazine even declared the 2006 M3 (with sequential manual gearbox) as its favorite sports car of all time.
2014 Subaru WRX STI
The Subaru Impreza WRX STI is a road-going rally car. It features a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and features an all-wheel drive system, just like the CLA45 AMG. But that is where the similarities end. The STI features a 2.5L engine and only makes 305hp, and does not feature the same creature comforts and amenities as the CLA45 will. In nasty, winter weather, the Subaru may perform better, but when it comes to numbers the CLA45 should be able to outperform it.
BMW 1 Series M
Mercedes-Benz is not the only company to produce hopped-up versions of their smallest cars. In 2011, BMW made a high-performance version of the 1-Series by scouring the parts bins of all other M cars and pulling out the best bits. For many enthusiasts, this was one of the purest BMWs built in a long time, and they sold very well. The name? Well, calling it a M1 would’ve been sacrilegious, but its 335hp twin-turbo straight-six engine is today a modern marvel. Compared to the CLA45, this is probably the car that is the closest “related” to the Mercedes. Unfortunately, it was only made one model year, and will be trumped in horsepower and cylinders by the mighty little Mercedes.
2014 Audi S4
Prior to the CLA45, if a purchaser wanted a small, fast, German sedan in the United States he or she would definitely consider the Audi S4. Featuring a boosted 6-cylinder engine, the S4 produces 333hp from a 3.0L engine. Also, the Audi has Quattro all-wheel drive to keep everything in order. There will undoubtedly be comparison tests between these two models once the CLA45 arrives Stateside.
Modern-day cars make way more horsepower than proper sports cars of not that long ago. There are many pub arguments about how 200hp in the Subaru BRZ is not enough horsepower for anybody. We are often spoiled by the advancement in automotive power technologies and often forget that the 355hp in the CLA45 is definitely enough to get someone into a lot of trouble. However, we do live in a world where the horsepower wars are being fought at all levels, and it is truly a great time to be an automotive enthusiast.
Recently, Carlos Lago of Motor Trend reviewed the CLA45 AMG, and it truly does make some great noises. Check the video out below and happy motoring!