Back in January of 2013, Mercedes-Benz pulled the sheets on the CLA Class at the North American International Auto Show. The car was a bit of a gamble for the German automaker, combining a compact, entry-level platform with four doors and a fastback coupe roofline. The formula ended up working and the CLA went on to be a smash hit, selling in record numbers across the globe. Alongside more pedestrian specifications was the hotrod AMG model, which packed in aggressive styling, driver-oriented interior amenities, sharper suspension, and a serious power boost. Last year, the AMG CLA45 got even more underhood performance, and now, Mercedes is giving it a refresh with new body components and new cabin equipment.Overall, it’s a pretty mild update for the four-door coupe, but considering the car’s popularity, not to mention last year’s horsepower infusion, Mercedes didn’t need to do much to keep the buyers rolling in.
DESIGN AND STYLE ;
The CLA is the sedan based on the A-Class and the resemblance is striking at the front. The side profile reveals the coupe lines of this compact sedan which features a sloping roof that neatly merges with the boot. The design influence from the CLS is apparent at the rear. The CLA in stock guise is also a very attractive car and the AMG version is simply irresistible in appearance. This car is very aerodynamic, having a drag co-efficient of just 0.23, making it one of the slipperiest cars in the world. It has very smooth flowing lines giving it a sleek profile.
Being an AMG, you get all those go-faster bits which clearly signal at the intentions of this 4-door performance car. While in size, it isn’t any bigger than a D-segment car, it still has loads of presence with an attitude which few can match. Right from the body kit to the massive rear diffuser, all look so sporty yet elegant on this Afflerbach tuned machine. Larger air intakes and aluminium accents are immediately striking while the 10-spoke 18-inch wheels proudly flaunt the CLA45’s big fat discs and red brake callipers. The biggest give away about this 2.0-litre engine not being your regular run of the mill motor are the quad-exhausts at the rear.
CABIN AND COMFORT ;
From behind the wheel, racy cabin accoutrements such as a sport steering wheel, red-ringed HVAC vents, and a microsuede dash cover are clues that you’re driving something more special than a regular Benz. Aggressively bolstered sport seats provide more than enough squeeze to keep occupants located during high-speed cornering. That said, the cabins of the 45s are as cramped and impractical as those of the CLA250 and GLA250. Front-seat space is adequate in both cars, but taller folks would be wise to skip the optional panoramic sunroof; it steals precious headroom, and with it, back-seat passengers won’t find their accommodations nearly as, well, accommodating. VIEW 45 PHOTOS
Perched atop the shapely dashboard is the same 8.0-inch COMAND infotainment system that is also standard issue on the other CLA and GLA models, but navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are all extra-cost options. The system offers no touchscreen control; instead, a small rotary knob on the center console is pushed, pulled, or spun to manage functions. It generally works well, and we prefer physical controls, but with the addition of the aforementioned smartphone-integration menus, a touch-sensitive screen would make life easier.
The GLA45 offers slightly more rear-seat headroom and hatchback practicality, while the CLA45 is claimed to be quicker, handles a bit flatter, and sports a sexier shape. But either of these siblings will provide plenty of fun on your favorite back road. There is a third relative that blends together the best of the CLA45 and GLA45 but, regrettably, isn’t available in the States: the CLA45 Shooting Brake. Mercedes-AMG sells this ideal, albeit curious, blend of practicality, speed, and seductive bodywork in other parts of the world but not in the United States, where wagons are shunned in favor of SUV-like amalgams. Still, the smallest AMG specimens that we do get are delightfully sinful and carry the bragging rights that come along with having the most powerful production turbocharged four-cylinder in the world hammering away under the hood.
ENGINE AND GEARBOX ;
Apart from the smaller displacement and lower cylinder count, the biggest difference between the CLA 45 and most AMGs is that it’s not rear-wheel drive. It uses Merc’s 4Matic four-wheel-drive system to help manage all that power better, but since it’s based on the A-class’ MFA platform, it’s primarily front-wheel drive, with additional power being sent rearward as and when necessary. As a result, there’s a lot of grip, but also a lot of understeer, and you have to drive it like a front-wheel-drive car to really get the most out of it. To properly tuck this nose-heavy car into a corner, it’s best to lift off, add some steering lock and then power through, rather than just flooring it round a bend. It’s at this point that you’ll also notice that the steering is a bit too light at speed, and doesn’t feed you much information from the road. This lightness is great in traffic though, and the CLA’s small dimensions (it’s about the size of a new Toyota Corolla) make it easy to manoeuvre. The CLA’s body movements are also superbly contained when you’re being enthusiastic with it, and that’s all down to the way the suspension’s been set up. It’s not adjustable or adaptive like some of the bigger AMG cars, and the corollary of that good body control is a somewhat firm ride. It’s acceptable for a car with sporting intent to be stiffly sprung, and we’re sure the standard CLA will be a lot more comfortable, but the 45 AMG’s ride simply lacks the sophistication and flexibility of bigger sports sedans, including Merc’s own E 63. It also lacks a bit in refinement, letting in a lot of road noise at highway speeds, although you can’t argue about the fact that it feels very stable. You must, however, remember to ‘crab walk’ the car over big speed breakers or rumblers, as it has a long wheelbase and not a lot of ground clearance. Finally, that engine. Five minutes in and you won’t doubt Mercedes’ lofty claims about it. Whether you’re attacking some corners or just cruising, there’s plenty of power available anywhere in the rev band. In fact, it’s easy to lose track of how fast you’re going if you don’t periodically check the speedo. That’s partly because there’s no perceivable step or shove in its delivery, just a great big surge from the get-go, with mild peaks around 2,000 and 4,000rpm.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
There is no denying that the ride is harsh, the suspension travel is limited and you are going to feel everything under the wheels – even the white paint that demarcates the lanes. At high speeds the car bounces even on the smallest of undulations and the Recaros don’t do much to alleviate the suffering. Probably the only cars of this size that score lower than the CLA 45 AMG in ride are the Minis. The ground clearance is not optimum for India and you need to be really careful over speed humps, especially since the lowest part of the car is the exhaust muffler.At the primary level this is a front-wheel drive sedan and even with the all-wheel drive assistance, the front bias is pretty evident. The car tends to understeer when pushed hard through the corners, but in a way I think it is a good thing since most buyers will be first timers to the world of performance cars.
SAFETY AND SECURITY ;
The automaker has incorporated several sophisticated safety aspects that provide unmatched protection to the occupants. It has an active parking assist with PARKTRONIC that gives excellent assistance to the driver, while maneuvering in tight corners. At the same time, its high end versions also have a 360 degree camera that minimizes the efforts required to park this saloon. It also has a tyre pressure monitoring system, impact protection beams, bi-xenon headlamps, ATTENTION Assist function, adaptive brake with hill start assist, central locking system, neck-pro head restraints and anti-theft device
The line ‘Happiness comes in small packages’ holds its relevance with the CLA45AMG. No one could have ever imagined a 2-litre engine to be this responsive and power packed. Agreed, it does not deliver spine pulling performance but then the figures it generates is second to none in its segment. This compact sedan from Mercedes-Benz produces sprint timings close to a BMW M3 at half its price.
If looks could talk, the45AMG’s design would have screamed of its rich hyper action heritage. With an increased focus on efficiency, there are not many cars which boast of such performance. Even the legendary Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X falls short to match with this baby AMG. Being the most affordable all out performance car, the CLA45AMG should make it an enthusiast’s parking…just make sure you don’t end up picking bets while racing around at night.