When you think of AMG you think massive engine and massive power. The Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG changes that completely. Here you have a hand-built 2.0L direct injected turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine, producing a whopping 355 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque which Mercedes claims is the world’s most powerful production 4-cylinder engine. But does that make it a car worth buying?
This car is surely going to get you into trouble. It’s quick, very quick. Plant your foot into the ground, and the next thing you know you’re creeping up on jail time speeds before you know it, and the fact that it’s red doesn’t help much either. It was hard not to press the go pedal without wanting to feel that rush of acceleration. The dual-clutch transmission is good and shifts quickly, but if you’re in manual mode, you need to time your shifts appropriately otherwise you’ll get a sharp jab from the rev-limiter, which is frighteningly harsh.
Now, here’s the fun part of having an AWD dual-clutch 355hp monster. LAUNCH CONTROL! Following a series of lever shifts and button pushes, hold the brake and press the gas pedal to the floor and the car holds the RPMS at about 4k, making the car sound like a WRC car is about to launch, which is awesome by the way. Let go of that brake pedal and you’re thrust back into your seat by that 332 lb-ft of torque and you’re on your way to 60mph in the manufacturers suggested time of 4.5 seconds. Triple digits comes up quick, so be ready to plant your foot on that brake again if you’re on any public roads, they are surely well equipped to stop you quickly and efficiently.
The CLA45 AMG is unable to be equipped with an adjustable suspension, so it only has one setting; stiff. Don’t get me wrong, the ride is beautifully smooth when you’re on smooth roads, but any undulations or bumps in the road and you and your passengers are surely going to feel them. Given the low profile tires and the fact that they are high performance summer tires, the noise on the highway is a little more than you’d expect from a Mercedes. Comfort wise, this isn’t a car you’ll be cruising around with a coffee in your hands, but if you’re looking to have a ton of fun on side roads and can live with the stiffer ride then you’re going to have a blast. The handling is very good. Steering is nice and tight, and very direct, even though it doesn’t have the traditional hydraulic system, AMG has dialed it in so well you still feel connected to the car. Push the car into the turns hard, and it stays flat as the power brings you through, but being that this is a mainly front-wheel drive based AWD system, you still get a little understeer if pushed too hard into turns though.
Now, lets talk about that hand-built 2.0L direct-injected turbocharged beast. Holy crap! What an amazing engine. So much power comes from such a small engine, it really is incredible. This engine really seems like the only reason why this car costs so much. Being pushed back into the sport seats was really the only reason I was able to look past my previous gripes about the CLA250. I mean who cares about the slightly difficult to use center controls or the high window line that gives you some blind spots. You’re hauling ass, so you shouldn’t be needing to play with those dials, and the only reason you’ll be checking your mirrors is to see who you’re leaving behind in the dust.
So if you have some expendable income, and you want an “entry-level” AMG monster, buy the CLA45 AMG, you wont be disappointed. Sure, it may lack a little soul, but that engine combined with burying your foot into that right pedal will never cease to put a smile on your face.