2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 First Drive

Say you have $ 75,000 to spend with an open mind and you find yourself in the AMG section of your local Mercedes-Benz Trader. Go for it. The obvious answer is a well-equipped AMG C63. It has a twin-turbo V8, it’s rear-wheel drive, and feels like home when hitting restaurants and racetracks. Whether it’s the sedan or the coupe, it doesn’t really matter.

But over there, probably hidden behind a GLS 63, there is something a little different: the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 2020. It is the wild and high-end version of the entry level Mercedes it is in equal parts a sedan and a coupe. Remember the CLA 45 AMG? Remember to think Mercedes was out of its rocker to deliver 355 horsepower? four-cylinder. Prep your eyes, because AMG has found more power. New and now hand built like top of the line AMG engines, this The turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four manages 382 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. This is obviously encroaching on the 200 hp per liter, but in Europe, the CLA 45 S version actually exceeds the bar with 416 hp. It feels like we’re being wronged here, which it is, but 382 horsepower in such a small package is still a lot of bonkers.

The sheer hilarity of such power on a 2.0-liter is enough to intrigue, but remember this is still a CLA. Conventional wisdom says it’s supposed to be crippled by a front-wheel drive platform and the reputation of being the cheap installer Mercedes. And while it’s fair to assume that a model’s reputation will mean a lot for some potential luxury car buyers, it shouldn’t matter once you’re behind the wheel. Mercedes went to great lengths to make the CLA 45 look a lot less like an all-wheel-drive front-wheel drive car than a rear-drive rear-wheel drive car. Take on Stupid Drift Mode. Once you jump through electronic hoops, the CLA 45 will spin in perfect circles until you run out of rubber or get bored. It really is something. Calling it Donut Mode would be just as accurate.

The tendency of this car to sideways a bit doesn’t start and end there either. Set the mode selector to Sport + or Race, turn traction control off, and turn on the power. The CLA 45 wags its tail on exiting a turn and oversteers without trying too hard. It’s a really pleasant surprise given the CLA’s front-wheel drive fundamentals.

Thank the 4Matic + all-wheel drive system with “AMG Torque Control”. Power can be “fully variably distributed between the front and rear wheels,” Mercedes explains, allowing all of the power to be locked to the rear wheels. But there is more to it. The new rear axle differential has two electronically controlled multi-plate clutches and each is connected to a rear axle driveshaft. This allows Mercedes to distribute this power in a totally variable way to one or the other of the rear wheels. In Drift mode, the car is able to send power to the outer rear wheel and prepare the ESC for the desired drift characteristics. This makes the CLA spin instantly and allows it to continue with so little effort on the part of the driver. The experience is different from that of a Miata, or Camaro. More of a “Hey, you’re off to the ride, let’s go” feeling than actively correcting the throttle and steering wheel to maintain perfect circular motion.

Of course, 382bhp is the real title here, backed up by a red line that goes up to 7,200rpm. If going fast in a straight line is more your thing, this small sedan will hit 60mph in just 4.0 seconds before hitting an electronic limit of 155mph – the AMG Driver Pack boosts that top speed to 168mph. Sprinting to 60 mph is only 0.1 seconds behind a C 63 and just 0.2 seconds behind the C 63 S sedan. Assuming you are using the extremely ‘Race-Start’ launch control feature. good, it will hit every time as well. Mercedes are kind enough to put a 0-60mph timer in the infotainment system, and while that doesn’t amount to a proper instrumented test, the best we got was 3.84 seconds. He would consistently do 0-60mph runs in under four seconds without breaking a sweat in the early summer heat.

Speaking of which, there’s no shortage of heat generated by the new M139 engine. Compared to the CLA 35, the engine is rotated 180 degrees – Mercedes claims improved air ducts thanks to this movement, with shorter distances and less deviations on the intake and exhaust side. Turbocharger technology is also borrowed from AMG GT, there’s a new high-performance two-stage intercooler, and AMG has designed a new advanced cooling system that can cool the cylinder head and crankcase at different temperatures. This is all good since Mercedes says the charging pressure peaks at 2.1 (!) Bar, or 30.5 psi. It might be shocking, but given the horsepower figure, one would expect this engine to be essentially a turbocharger with a hanging block and head.

Not much happens right away when the throttle is pressed without launch control while stationary. The revs rise to around 3000 rpm and cool there for a short second. Then it’s party time. Bang, bang, bang. Were they gunshots? No, it’s just AMG which is AMG. Two rushed changes occur before the car hits 60 mph in a chorus of whooshes and pops. The eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is masterful. The gear changes are instantaneous and strike with authority on hard acceleration, kicking us in the back. Pull the large metal flap paddle higher in the rev range, and each gear change is accompanied by a bang. If the goal were to be heard anywhere and everywhere, the CLA 45 gets an A +. The engine and exhaust note plays an aggressive song from its decorative four-pronged outlet. Some have actually assumed there is a V8 under the hood, but the true rumble of the C 63’s twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 still gets the go-ahead for noise.

The CLA 45’s standard suspension is passive, but our test car came with the optional AMG Ride Control adaptive suspension. Three stiffness settings are available, but the system also works automatically, varying the damping forces according to road conditions. Comfort mode isn’t lavish, but it wasn’t that bad considering how capable this car is when set to sportier settings. Only a small amount of body roll remains when the firmest mode is engaged.

The CLA 45 spins with a little twist of the faux suede-covered wheel, and the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires stay glued to the road. Put the power down in the middle of the turn and you can feel the car being pushed by the rear wheels (even going out sometimes), instead of being pulled by the fronts. It’s not just in Drift mode when the CLA 45 looks like an all-wheel drive car focused on rear-wheel drive.

There isn’t much of the road feel transmitted to the driver through the steering wheel, but you also don’t feel isolated from the road. If anything, the steering weight could be reduced slightly, as the way it loads is a bit too heavy in its heavier, almost artificial setting. Choosing a custom setup in Mercedes’ individual mode will allow you to change all settings independently into a preferred combination if one of the presets, like steering weight, bothers you.

Jump on the brakes is a non-event. AMG branded four-piston front calipers and single-piston rear calipers mount to vented and perforated brake discs, but again our test car has been upgraded with six-piston front calipers and rotors. bigger. No fade was detected after a long training session, but these brakes are meant for track use, so it’s as it should be.

Put it back in Comfort mode, and while things never calm down completely, it’s quiet enough for an AMG at full throttle. The optional AMG sports seats at $ 2,690 are very comfortable for long journeys and offer adjustable padding that spreads high padding for a more relaxed feel. Just like the Ordinary CLA, the interior is modern, full of flashy elements and dominated by massive dual screens running the latest MBUX software. There are a few pieces of harder plastic than you will find in a Class C, but for the price, the interior is hard to fault. There is certainly no compromise in terms of infotainment or safety technology.

The exterior design is exactly what you would expect. It gets the large Panamericana grille reserved for high-caliber AMG models as well as wider front fenders to accommodate the wider front axle. There’s only a small spoiler on the rear, but the AMG badge, front splitter, rear diffuser, and quad tailpipes make it clear that this isn’t your average CLA. You get 18-inch wheels as standard equipment, but the $ 1,750 19-inch AMG forged wheels on our test car pair perfectly with the clearly visible red calipers inside. It’s still a generally drooping shape front-to-back, but all the AMG bits sharpen it.

This little sedan firecracker comes at a price that makes your head shake, however. Before the options (and you really want some of the options), the CLA 45 is $ 55,795. With the recommended AMG Dynamic Plus Package and Driver Assistance Package, the price quickly hits $ 60,000. Our test car costs $ 74,830. That’s $ 5,735 Following than a C 63 base which comes with twice as many cylinders. To be fair, cars like the Audi RS3 and BMW M2 Competition hover around the base price of the CLA 45, so this is a common problem for this small niche of small, high-powered luxury cars. Among them, the answer is therefore definitely M2 if you can live with two doors. But if you can’t and getting all-weather prowess and the best technology available are priorities, then the 2020 CLA 45 should fill that little niche well.

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