Photos & Words: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates
Exterior: The CLA 45 AMG is the baby Benz on steroids and that association could possibly produce the best of both worlds. A couple of years ago, the CLA was presented during a clever Superbowl commercial and the response since has certainly been favorable. As opposed to the lesser versions, the CLA 45 AMG has all the necessary additions to make this particular platform shine. The primary differences from the base model and the AMG’s appearance is the $3700 carbon fiber exterior package that includes a carbon fiber front splitter, rocker panel inserts, mirror covers and rear diffuser. In my honest opinion, the CLA is naked without this package and totally worth the extra funds. On top of that, my test car came equipped with the 19” AMG multi-spoke alloy wheels which mirror high end aftermarket applications and that is always a plus in my book. The sleek and sexy body lines of the CLA 45 AMG are unmistakeable as it’s certainly one of those vehicles that looks like it’s going 100 mph sitting still.
Interior: The most notable upgrade in the CLA 45 AMG’s interior is the AMG Recaro seats that simply scream super car. Thankfully, they’re not completely racing-spec so as they hold you tight, they’re actually quite comfortable and have all the power adjustment options you should require. The rest of the the interior is covered in either black alcantara or black leather with contrasting red stitching throughout. There’s also the carbon fiber trim (a $950 option) that really makes the interior pop and I couldn’t imagine the interior without it. The optional AMG performance steering wheel was also a nice touch and added to the overall racing habitat created.
A/V: In regards to the CLA’s electronics electronics department, there’s only one component that deserves a red mark and it’s simply because of its placement, not its functionality. The eight-inch, high resolution LCD screen seemingly stuck on the dash almost kills the entire interior for me. It’s like a super hot girl with a perfect body but she’s missing two front teeth. You can’t take that home to momma! Now that I’m done with that little rant, it’s important to emphasize that the system actually works just fine. The COMAND is fairly easy to use with its dial-style controller (once you get used to it) and the only problem I had was that when I connected my iPhone, the artwork displayed was hardly ever what was actually pumping through the speakers. And speaking of the tunes, the harman/kardon LOGIC7 surround sound system sounds phenomenal and takes every tune to the next level.
Performance: Under the hood, the 355 HP, 2.0-liter turbo inline four cylinder pumps out some peppy power but almost feels restricted by the transmission at times. I would love to see this car in a six-speed manual to fully pull the power out of every RPM. Thankfully, Mercedes provided a couple options for people like me that yearn to optimize my driving experience. The first option would be selecting manual mode which allows full use of the paddle shifters. Honestly, the paddles are fun but it feels a bit gimmicky and electronic as its not true shifting. The best mode I found that reaches a happy medium and unleashes the CLA 45’s true potential as much as possible is Sport. This particular mode will plant you in your seat times and tends to yield peak performance. Don’t even think about dialing it in to the Comfort setting because you will certainly be disappointed. My only theory about Comfort mode is that because it’s a car that DOES NOT want to be boring and basic and pretend to be sluggish, it kind of pouts and protests a bit when dialed into this particular setting. Either way, this punchy little Benz hones the overall performance to satisfy most any tuner’s driving desires.
Floss Factor: At 67k, this is as good as a lower-end Mercedes can look and it sure does turn heads. Everywhere the CLA 45 AMG goes German car purists and tuner aficionados alike admire the car, asks questions and snap pics for the ‘gram. If you want the sexiest compact sedan (coupe?) on the planet, the CLA 45 AMG is probably the move for you.
Power: 355 hp, 332 lb-ft
0-60: 4,4 sec
Gas Cash: 26 MPG (combined)
This review was streamed LIVE on Periscope on the @CarReviews channel on Periscope!