Mercedes-Benz CLA

The first thing people notice about the CLA is its unique styling. Mercedes-Benz classifies the car as a 4-door coupe, much like its older sibling, the CLS. The comparison is apt, as the CLA borrows much of its design language from its bigger brother. However, the base price of a CLA is less than half that of a CLS, making the CLA quite a bargain from a styling standpoint.

The CLA utilizes a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine in the base trim, which makes 208 horsepower and a very healthy 258 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, with Mercedes-Benz's 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system as an option. The only transmission choice is a 7-speed dual-clutch unit, providing the efficiency of a manual with the functionality of an automatic. Performance is sprightly, with acceleration to 60 mph in just 6.9 seconds, while fuel economy is also respectable thanks to one of the most aerodynamic bodies ever sold in the U.S.

In the entry-level CLA250, standard equipment includes 14-way power adjustable front seats, an 8-speaker CD/MP3/radio sound system, rear seat armrest with cup holders, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, rearview camera, heated mirrors, an 8-inch color screen, Bluetooth and an integrated garage door opener.

Options are plentiful on the CLA250 and include items like LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, a navigation system, heated front seats, PARKTRONIC parking assist, and a blind spot assist system. Equipment packages include a sports package with unique exterior details and upgraded brakes, an interior package with leather seating surfaces, a premium package with keyless entry and an uprated stereo, and a multimedia package featuring a larger screen and a 6-disc CD changer. A convenience package features the all-new hands-free access trunklid, which requires only the motion of a foot beneath the rear bumper to open.

The high-performance AMG CLA45 features a hand-built turbocharged 2.0L inline-four that produces a stout 350 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque -- enough to propel the car from 0-60 mph in just 4.1 seconds. The AMG CLA45 is clad in unique exterior body styling, and inside there's Recaro performance front seats with contrasting stitching, among other AMG-specific amenities. A new Dinamica faus suede interior package adds unique the material to seating and steering wheel surfaces.

With the CLA-Class being a bit smaller than typical Mercedes-Benz models, safety was a point of emphasis for the company. Optional safety equipment includes Distronic Plus, a radar-based cruise control system that can automatically apply the brakes if it senses a collision, as well as lane-keeping assist and blind spot assist. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes and traction control as well as stability control and several airbags for both the front and the sides of the car.

Editors' Review

Mercedes-Benz is launching a whole bunch of hot little compacts in the US, from the A35 sedan to the CLA35 also-a-sedan to the cute little GLB35 crossover. But up at the tippy-top of the range is the new CLA45, and friends, it's a goddamn riot.

The shining star of this AMG isn't the one on the grille, it's the turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood. Code-named M139, this is the world's most powerful production I4 engine, producing 382 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. Not impressive enough? The CLA45 S (which isn't coming to the US -- womp womp) turns up the wick to 416 hp and 369 lb-ft. Yes, 416 hp from a little 2.0-liter engine. What a world!

The eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is super quick to shift and helps the CLA45 accelerate to 60 mph in a manufacturer-claimed 4 seconds. I'm not normally one to choose my own adventure with dual-clutch 'boxes, but the CLA's metal paddle shifters have great tactile action and offer instant response. Plus, there's a feisty little brapp from the exhaust every time you upshift, and this thing loves to burble its way back down on overrun.

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The Good ~ Turbocharged I4 packs a wallop ~ As balanced and poised as it is rowdy and playful ~ Superb MBUX infotainment suite

The Bad ~ Driver-assistance features all cost extra ~ Optional goodies add up fast

The Bottom Line The Mercedes-AMG CLA45 is a huge improvement over its predecessor, but it'll cost you.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 9.5
  • Features 9.5
  • Design 8.5
  • Media 9

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