Vital Stats


2.0L Turbo I4


355 HP / 332 LB-FT


7-Speed DCT

0-60 Time:

4.5 Seconds (est.)

Top Speed:

155 MPH


All-Wheel Drive

Curb Weight:

3,494 LBS




16.6 CU-FT


21 City / 31 HWY (est.)

Base Price:


As Tested Price:

$51,000 (est.)

A Really Hot Little GT Plants The Seed For A Better AMG

Mercedes-Benz has AMG on an impressive growth curve these days, the official name of the effort being Performance 50. By the 50th anniversary of AMG in 2017, the Mercedes performance division will produce 30,000-plus units per year, up from today's 20,000 or so. In addition, AMG will boast a catalog of 30-plus models, and a greater dedication to making AMG cars truly nimble performers in every sense will be a priority. Within that very full agenda, this new CLA45 AMG is certain to be an important contributor on all accounts.

The thrill monitors at AMG have a long-established reputation for creating large, open-road rockets that err on the side of brute force and everyday comfort over zippy, tight-feeling sports car finesse and balance. The strategy has worked wonders for the company's sales ledger and created handsome levels of profit per unit, but entire developing sectors of the premium hot-car market have been knowingly left out of the AMG equation. While there are exceptions, AMG has never been considered a maker of truly agile machinery that's easily tossed around.

The very first thing that we notice while driving the CLA45 AMG – on schedule for North American deliveries beginning in November with a reported starting price of $47,450 – is exactly how lively its new 4Matic chassis can be. It's an entirely new feeling for an AMG, and it's entirely welcome by us. Some will complain about the price being asked for this super CLA-Class, but this little sedan is a true AMG of the new genre, and as such, it might just be something of a bargain.
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG side view2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG front view2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG rear view

A Driver's Package will extend the speed limiter to 167 mph.

Physically, we have a top-trim CLA with a handsome leather interior, very nice performance seats in front and some AMG aero extensions and trim bits to highlight the stance and darker side of the 45 AMG. The standard wheel is an 18-inch set, but our tester came dressed in 19-inchers, an option to be made available in a Driver's Package that will also extend the speed limiter to 167 miles per hour. Our first CLA45 tester was fitted with the Euro-standard lower and stiffer setup, and it was already very sharp. Combined with an as-needed 50:50 torque split on the 4Matic all-wheel drive and the sticky Dunlop Sportmaxx RT tires – 235/35 ZR19 91Y front and back – the CLA45 can be snapped around smartly between tight curves.

Yet the CLA45 only really pops all of your senses when fitted with the optional AMG performance suspension and exhaust system. In this fully optioned chassis, the front springs are 20-percent stiffer and rear units are 22-percent stiffer. So, if you get one of these, opt for both of those plus the 19-inch alloys. Thus prepped, you're bound to seriously enjoy yourself.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG front fascia2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG wheel2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG side mirror2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG rear fascia

This powerplant has been gifted with a wild maximum turbo-boost pressure of 26.1 psi.

We were in on earlier ride-and-drives with the engineers of this little AMG. At that point, Benz reps admitted they wanted to improve the electro-mechanical steering's crispness and fidelity. Boy, do they seem to have worked out the bugs, because we felt very sure behind the wheel. Our time with the CLA45 stretched over some hilly north-central German country roads and lots of no-limit Autobahn. (Track time at the new and very hilly 2.6-mile Bilster Berg Drive Resort was in an Edition 1 trimmed A45 AMG.) The AMG-specific front axle treatment and re-engineered elasto-kinematics of the multi-link rear axle make this CLA45 unrecognizable to the AMG family we thought we knew all these years.

Certainly, the 147 additional horsepower (peaking at 6,000 rpm) and 74 greater pound-feet of torque (between 2,250 and 5,000 rpm) supplied by the new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine helps things a bit. This sweet-feeling 355-horsepower, 332-pound-feet-of-torque powerplant (internally called "M133") has been gifted with a wild maximum turbo-boost pressure of 26.1 psi from its big twin-scroll Honeywell unit, which is clearly visible when the hood is lifted. The mood button on the center console that corrals the drivetrain includes modes for Controlled Efficiency, Sport and Manual, and in either of the latter two settings, your optional exhaust will flap open and make you smile throughout the rev range and the seven shift points of the dual-clutch AMG gearbox.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG engine2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG interior2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG front seats2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG paddle shifter

The A45 AMG, which we won't get, is a tick better at all of this performance driving stuff than the CLA45.

As much as we can rave about this machine, we noticed something that the AMG dudes will only halfway admit: The A45 AMG, which we won't get in North America, is a tick better at all of this performance driving stuff than the CLA45. It would have been outstanding to try an all-boxes-ticked CLA45 around the track against the A45 AMG Edition 1 cars we did have. The trouble is that the CLA45 launches in Europe this September, whereas the A45 starts selling right now, so there were no spiked CLA45s yet for us ham-fisted press mooks at the track.

Compared to the A45 AMG hot hatch, the CLA45 is more of an acutely warmed-up little grand tourer. This is not actually a criticism at all, and we sincerely dig the CLA45. But it just feels a tiny bit disingenuous to pull this punch from our trunked cars. AMG insists that the suspension calibrations are all identical between the two models, but every sophisticated yaw sensor on our bodies tells us that the whole story has yet to be shared. The weight difference between the A and the CLA is only 66 pounds trim for trim, so that doesn't account for it, either – perhaps it has something to do with distribution?

Sooner or later we won't hesitate to mention the AMG lineup in the same breath as M from BMW or even Porsche.

With the three-stage ESP all the way off and our most aggressive driving packed with high lateral g-force maneuvers, we could feel the ESP Curve Dynamic Assist chiming in ever so slightly. Or to put that into plain English, we noticed the brake torque vectoring system while wringing the car out. On the ideal tarmac under the early summer sun, though, we didn't really need or want it to kick in, since the CLA45 was nailing every line through every single transition and weight shift. On these AMGs, when you've got the Speedshift dual-clutch transmission in manual mode, the gears are held at the rev limiter, unlike in the CLA 250 Sport. What's more, in Sport or Manual, shift times are exactly as quick as on the SLS AMG GT. Along with this true manual treat, the redline has been extended 200 rpm up to 6,700 rpm. Downshifting is still frequently forbidden, most annoyingly, right when you might need it heading into curves, and second gear is too short to be of much use anyway, but the turbocharged torque rush helps out there.

Even though we'd like a Black Series CLA45 that collaborates in some clever way with the rear-biased 4Matic, we are definitely fans already of this 2014 Mercedes CLA45 AMG. The chassis sensations alone are happily unlike anything we've ever felt from Affalterbach. Sooner or later we won't hesitate to mention the AMG lineup in the same breath as M from BMW or even Porsche. AMG may arguably already be there in certain cases, but it takes time to break old perceptions that have been engraved over decades. The CLA45 is a fantastic start for a better, nimbler AMG.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      I love everything about this car but what's with the TomTom looking display? Looks horrible
        • 2 Years Ago
        I bet whoever buys this, will be constantly bombarded by new passengers in the car trying to remove the navigation from the center console (or at least ask if that thing can be removed)...Happens in the new 3 series when I get it as a service loaner.....
      • 2 Years Ago
      Article is far too short of impressions if this intriguing motor and too long on talk of this silly boy-racer car. It would be wonderful if MB would make a true 190E 2.5-16 Evo II successor from this engine, including proper manual transmission instead of this tuned luxo-barge with trying-too-hard visual accents.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I love that this segment is exploding with refined, small cars that have some punch. Where we, as consumers, only used to have the wrx and evo, we're seeing new, refined choices in the s3 and cla45. I am excited to see one of these in person. My only concern is that the 47k starting price will quickly balloon to 60 once you check the boxes.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great looking Benz, I can't wait to see it in person and give it a test drive. Looks like a lot of fun on a canyon road
      • 1 Year Ago
      " Edition 1 trimmed A45 AMG." What's an "Edition 1"? A single-phrase description or hyperlink would be helpful. And "A45 AMG"? What is that, and how is it related to and/or differ from a CLA45 AMG? Same for "CLA 250 Sport". You said " Compared to the A45 AMG hot hatch, the CLA45 is more of an acutely warmed-up little grand tourer". OK, that's helpful, although earlier you said "Our time with the CLA45 stretched over some hilly north-central German country roads and lots of no-limit Autobahn. (Track time at the new and very hilly 2.6-mile Bilster Berg Drive Resort was in an Edition 1 trimmed A45 AMG.)" as if the CLA45 AMG and A45 AMG have the same chassis, or when you said "...Edition 1 trimmed A45 AMG", was "A45 AMG" just shorthand for "CLA45 AMG"? Mercedes-Benz has always named their cars with letters and numbers, and, over the years, the alphanumerics have meant different things. Change, say, a 4 to a 5, or an A to a C, or add an S, and you're talking about a different car. What exactly were you writing about? This article was confusing in a way that is amateurish and below par for auto journalism. Please, in the future, describe, delineate, and/or compare and contrast as needed for clarity.
      • 2 Years Ago
      yes, AMG has not been competing in the small car segment with M but they have been running circles around Ms with the \"complete\" package for a while. people who bought S63 AMGs were not planning to take it around laguna seca on race weekend. but have you seen that car move on the interstate where it belongs? i drive a SRT8 vehicle which is pretty good for highway bruising but after recently playing with a 2008 S63 AMG from nyc all the way to maryland, it is my opinion that mercedes has owned the business of building ultra fast land yachts for a long time and BMW and Audi has not come close in a long time. A good thing was happening with the M5 for a while and then it died with this generation. so yes, AMG has lived and in many cases been dominating the same breath as M
      • 2 Years Ago
      I keep hoping I'll get used to the looks of the CLA, but it just isn't happening. Still an ugly little thing to my eye. The proportions are all wrong. Visually, the nose looks absolutely massive compared to the tail, which is counter to everything I've ever thought was aesthetically pleasing in automotive design. Those character lines in the side are terrible and greatly exaggerate that effect by visually making the tail look even smaller and the nose look even taller than it is. The wheels look too narrow and could use some depth, as the extremely positive offset of the wheels makes them look even more narrow. I think the biggest thing that would help is a spoiler that would add some visual length and height to the profile and square up the look of the tail some. It would help balance the visual length of the front and rear overhangs and make the tail look the same height as the nose. Or they could just give us the A45 AMG, which already looks pretty damn cool.
        • 2 Years Ago
        I think the problem has to do with the visual dissonance this car has. The car is designed to look like a small agile thing like the A-class it's based on, but in reality it's much bigger (it's actually bigger than a C-class). So you end up with a feeling that the car has a "puffed up" look. This is all based on photos though so I'd still need to see one in person to know if the feeling carries over to real life.
        Maarten Pordon
        • 2 Years Ago
        I wonder if you have seen in in real life yet? I have driven a CLA a couple of weeks ago (in The Netherlands) and it just looks awesome. At first, based on the photos I agreed with you but now I just love this car.
        • 2 Years Ago
        ^ this
      • 2 Years Ago
      The USA version CLA 45 amg will not be a 30:70 based AWD. It is a FWD based AWD system. I believe that will be a big difference in driving dynamics..
        • 2 Years Ago
        Yup, not sure where 30:70 number is coming from. Mercedes' own press release says: "Torque split is fully variable: in normal driving, the CLA45 AMG has front-wheel drive bias in the interests of optimum efficiency. If the driving dynamics require, the variable AMG 4MATIC all-wheel drive splits the torque between front and rear axle at a ratio of up to 50 : 50 percent." So most of the time, it's FWD, and at most it will send 50% of the torque to the rear.
      Street King
      • 2 Years Ago
      LMFAO @ $47,000. Good luck with that Mercedes. You're asking people to buy your little 4cyl FWD econobox with AMG stuff and AWD for the same price as the upcoming M3 killing ATS-V with at least 125 more HP and torque. You could also go buy a new twin turbo 420 HP CTS-V sport for that cake.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Street King
        You can't be as lost as you sound. Those 2 cars don't come anywhere near competing with each other dumbo. M
      • 2 Years Ago
        • 2 Years Ago
        Yeah, chick cars go 0-60 in 4.5... swap your scoop of protein for some ginseng, bro.
        Hello, Brian
        • 2 Years Ago
        No need for comment. You said it all for yourself.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Who knew another company could out ugly the Velosturd!
      • 2 Years Ago
      This car is basicly Audi RS3 with Merc badge and cylinder less. The same gearhead hated Haldex system. Enthusiasts should buy Evo instead.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Why can't an enthusiast like some luxury every now and then?
          • 2 Years Ago
          of course he can. And I wont object! Is this car fast?? Yes it is! Its just as capable as RS3. Its also much sexier. BUT it wont thrill you in the corner. When you get over the limit its as trustworthy as a snake. Understeer and uncontrolable snap oversteer. And hardcore enthusiasts know that car shows its true face when you go beyond the limit. But of course, >95% of people will be more than pleased with the car.
        • 2 Years Ago
        "gearhead hated haldex"....REALLY? well you're a bit clueless now aren't you.
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