We test the CLA 45 S: booting the baby Mercedes-AMG
Search Driven for Mercedes-Benz for sale
- It looks sensational
- Nearly as quick as A 45 S hyper hatch…
- …but even better handling
- Scary expensive for an A-Class-based car
- Garish red seats of our test car
- More clinical feel than previous-gen A 45 S
The Mercedes-AMG A-class 45-series has had more than its share of editorial space in DRIVEN, so we’ll keep this relatively brief.
The A 45 S boasts the world’s most powerful production engine, a 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbo making 310kW/500Nm. It’s a hand-built technological marvel.
AMG’s hyper hatch also has a Speedshift eight-speed automatic, trick 4Matic+ all-wheel drive system with AMG Torque Control rear differential (basically a clutch for each rear wheel) and the ability to scare you senseless with extreme speed on virtually any road.
Read More: First test of the Mercedes-AMG A45 S
The A 45 S is also essentially configured for 12-year-olds, even when it’s not painted in Bananas Yellow (that may not be the official factory name, I haven’t had time to look it up). There’s engineering excellence in abundance… but it’s also a bit embarrassing.
So meet the grown-ups’ version: the CLA 45 S. It offers everything from paragraphs two and three above, yet it comes wrapped up a package that looks both sensational and sophisticated.
You might not guess to look at it, but the CLA is based on the A-Class platform. The previous generation did indeed look like an A-class with a boot, but there’s now an actual A-Class sedan so the CLA has been taken to another level.
Despite the humble underpinnings, the CLA is 269mm longer than the A-Class – and actually a couple of millimetres longer than the proper C-Class sedan. It’s very much intended to be a smaller sibling to the CLS, hence the rakish looks. It’s cool, right?
Yes, it’s on a front-drive base. But like the A 45 S, this particular model is AWD so problem solved. Hot hatches can be front-drive, hot sedans absolutely not.
The CLA’s longer wheelbase, wider tracks and more substantial footwear (9 inch-wide wheels compared with 8in) make it the driver’s choice, even considering a small drop in performance due to the extra weight. While the A 45 S does 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds, the CLA 45 S’s 0-100km/h time starts with a “4”; although it does end in a “0”.
Unless you’re Bernd Schneider, you probably won’t notice much difference between the two. It's just that you’ll feel awesome in the CLA and awkwardly self-conscious in the A-Class.
There’s a price to be paid for keeping it classy. At $128,900 the CLA 45 S is over $17k more expensive than its A 45 equivalent. Even putting aside the extra metal you’re getting for your money, take another look at the CLA and you’ll know it’s totally worth it.
MERCEDES-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four.
GEARBOX: 8-speed automated dual clutch, AWD
PROS: It looks sensational, nearly as quick as A 45 S hyper hatch… …but even better handling
CONS: Scary expensive for something based on the A-Class, garish red seats of our test car, more clinical feel than previous-gen A 45 S.