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    Quick Drive: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG


    • ITS HOW MUCH!?

    My eyes almost dropped out of my head as I reading through the window sticker on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG. $63,815 as equipped?! ARE THEY SERIOUS?! I get the CLA45 AMG features one of the most one of the most powerful four-cylinders on sale and that AMG worked its magic all over the place. But almost $64,000?! This had better impress I thought as I got into the vehicle.

    Well the CLA45's exterior does. The shape is very much a downsized CLS-Class and that is very much a good thing. The long-flowing front end, high belt line, sculpting on the doors, and short rear make the CLA a standout in the entry-level luxury class. This gets amped up with AMG bits such as new side skirts, front bumper, mesh grille, and rear diffuser. The only part I didn't like was the optional nineteen-inch, sixteen-spoke wheels. I just felt it made the design look like its trying too hard. Stick with the standard wheels.

    The interior is another story. While Mercedes-Benz and AMG have tried their best to make CLA45 AMG feel very luxurious and premium, there are parts where some cheapness make an appearance. For example, certain trim pieces look and felt cheap. Then there is the optional COMMAND infotainment screen which looks like Mercedes-Benz stuck one of those TomTom portable navigation units on top of the dash.

    As I said at the beginning, the CLA45 AMG has one the most powerful four-cylinders available today. That four-cylinder happens to be a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four with 355 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. But when you get into it for the first time and hit the accelerator, there is this dead zone of power before the turbo spools up. Most likely this is an effort to improve fuel economy. Once the turbo does spool up, power comes in rapidly. This is accompanied by snorty engine note.

    But the achilles heel of the CLA45 AMG is the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The transmission hesitates when you're leaving a stop and seems to be confused of when it needs to up or downshift. I found that putting the transmission in the manual mode and using the paddles made it more enjoyable. I think if Mercedes-Benz had a bit more time to work on this dual-clutch transmission, it would be so much better.

    On the handling front, the CLA45 AMG features revised suspension setup from AMG and a all-wheel drive system. Paired together, they make CLA45 AMG a joy to play around in. Body motions are kept in check, and the all-wheel drive system works its magic to keep power flowing and the vehicle on course. Steering has a nice heft to it and the feedback is plentiful. The only item I wish Mercedes would add is some sort of adjustable dampers. While I felt the firm ride was perfect on the curvy bits, it would be too much if I had to drive this daily.

    The CLA45 AMG has some things I do like, such as the powertrain and looks. But other parts like the transmission and certain choices on the interior make me wonder why. Throw in that as-tested price, and the CLA45 AMG just seems too crazy for its own good.

    Disclaimer: Mercedes-Benz Provided the CLA45 AMG for the MAMA Spring Rally

    Year: 2014

    Make: Mercedes-Benz

    Model: CLA

    Trim: CLA45 AMG

    Engine: 2.0L Inline-Four Turbocharged Engine

    Driveline: Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Gearbox, All-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 355 @ 5,500

    Torque @ RPM: 332 @ 1,250 to 4,000

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - N/A

    Curb Weight: 3,494 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: N/A

    Base Price: $47,450

    As Tested Price: $63,815 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Black “Red Cut” Leather w/ AMG Performance Seats - $3,750

    Driver Assistance Package - $2,500

    Multimedia Package - $2,370

    Premium Package - $2,300

    Panorama Sunroof - $1,480

    PARKTRONIC with Advanced Parking Assist - $970

    19” 16-Spoke Alloy Wheel ~ Black - $850

    Mountain Gray Paint Color - $720

    AMG Performance Steering Wheel - $500

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.



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    MB like BMW seems to have gone over the top in building over priced cheap auto's that only Badge snobs would pay for. They have Whored out their product line and need to clean house.

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    The only MB I have driven was a late '90s E430, and it too had distinct lags when hitting the gas AND in the brakes engaging. I see mercedes is still battling with the same engineering problems.

    $64K and the infotainment is optional?? HUGELY overpriced, esp when you consider the base car starts at $29K. MB hasn't come close to adding $35K worth of value to this. They're going to have to slap S-class incentives on this to move it beyond the initial impulse buyers.

    Edited by balthazar

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    I think $64k is insane for this car, if you took out the performance seats for $3,800 (which seems like a Porsche type option and price) and if they either made the premium package or multimedia package standard, then it gets down to $57k loaded, which I could see as reasonable.  I mean there are Nissan Maximas and Chevy Impalas priced over $40k, and a Chevy Tahoe can cost $70k loaded, so cars all over the place are over priced. 

     

    My car has a bit of a dead zone in the pedal also, I think Mercedes just does that with a lot of cars, but it is good that they do or else my neck would be snapping back every time I hit the gas.  The other thing is Mercedes when in comfort setting on the transmission start in 2nd gear so they feel even more slow off the line, but I think it is done for comfort and the buyers over age 60.  On the CLA45 AMG they should include AirMatic, that would help with the suspension problem, that is an easy fix they have in house, so we'll see if they bother to do it.

     

    Personally I'd much rather have the coming C400 with the 339 hp turbo V6, and you can get Airmatic on that and an AMG appearance package and it would probably be closer to $50k.

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    I would take a good American auto with a V8 over any of the German turbo 4 bangers or 6 any day. I can expect a low cost maintenance and long life compared to the over priced imagined value of BMW or MB.

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    There aren't many American V8s left anymore.  Lincoln doesn't have any, Cadillac only has the CTS-V which is much bigger and wouldn't surprise me if the new one pushes $90,000.  So you have the 300C/Charger and Chevy SS which are all big cars and not really luxury cars either.  Hard to compare a Mustang or Camaro to a CLA45 AMG, since it is coupe vs sedan, non-luxury vs luxury, etc.

     

    I have a German V8 though and it is fabulous.  I wouldn't want a turbo 4 from any country.

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    dfelt didn't say "brand new".

     

    CLA isn't a luxury car, it's a FWD appliance with abundant cheapness, according to too many reviews. It's rock bottom pricing also precludes it from being classified as 'luxury' (insanity that the AMG version's tag is, aside).

     

    300C is much more appealing overall, IMO, primarily because it's not mistaken for a hyundai. 

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    dfelt didn't say "brand new".

     

    CLA isn't a luxury car, it's a FWD appliance with abundant cheapness, according to too many reviews. It's rock bottom pricing also precludes it from being classified as 'luxury' (insanity that the AMG version's tag is, aside).

     

    300C is much more appealing overall, IMO, primarily because it's not mistaken for a hyundai. 

    Your are right Balthazar, I did not say "Brand New", Still having my 2004 SRX with V6 and having spruced it up, it is going to my parents who need a solid roomy car for getting around in their old age.

     

    I have actually been look around for an AWD V8 SRX from the first generation as I love their boxy style, room inside and ease of working on them. Very Solid Reliable Luxury auto! :D

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    Hard to compare a 300C to a CLA, they are way different in size. That is like comparing an Impress WRX STi to a Chevy SS or Dodge Charger I doubt those are getting shopped too much.

    If we are talking used cars at $60k one could get a 3 year old M5 or E63.

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    Hard to compare a 300C to a CLA, they are way different in size. That is like comparing an Impress WRX STi to a Chevy SS or Dodge Charger I doubt those are getting shopped too much.

    If we are talking used cars at $60k one could get a 3 year old M5 or E63.

    Would rather own a CTS V as the cost of maintenance, repairs, etc would still be considerably less than either the over priced and over rated M5 or E63. The M3 is superior in many ways to the M5.

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    Most consumers BY FAR shop with budget as the prime criteria, not overall length.

    If we were in an era where cars ranged from 170" to 230", I could see it, but the 16" difference in these two (CLA & 300) is a non-issue.

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    So an Impress WRX and a Chevy Impala would be competitors? Or the ATS and Lacrosse are competitors? Obviously price is a big criteria, but size and driving characteristics of the car are nearly as important.

    The CLA AMG doesn't have a lot of direct competitors, but I do agree at $63k there are many better options new or used. If the CLA45 for $47k base included airmatic and the premium package standard it think it would he a good deal and if the loaded price was more like $55k I could see that. Personally I am not a CLA fan, I don't like the car much, but if an STi or Evo is $40 grand then I can sort of understand the CLA's price.

    Not sure also why everyone assumes Mercedes have such high repair costs when they are constantly near the top in 3rd party reliability studies. And look at resale value, a 200k mile Cadillac or Chrysler or Lincoln is worthless, I have seen 10 year old, 200k mile Mercedes selling for $12,000 or more.

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    The main problem is asking $64K for a FWD-based econocar that starts at $29K! Even at $55K, that's still trying to convince buyers it actually has $25K of additions over the base car- not remotely worth it. It should be $40-45K, right in the STI/Evo range since it's on the same level.

    ATS & LaCrosse could be compared, of course, if the prices are comparable (I have not checked). The OEMs don't look at it that way, but you have to face the reality of how these cars are used- the exact same way; slogging thru traffic to the office & the mall.

    The theory that people just absolutely cannot look at two cars that are 16" or so apart in OL would be enormous trouble for those marketers that continually spin the concept that buyers "trade up" thru a brand's lineup. If that were true, perhaps the best plan of attack IS to make a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7-series all within 5 inches of each other.... because going by your position, no one who owned an e-class would EVER consider an s-class. ;) 

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    The main problem is asking $64K for a FWD-based econocar that starts at $29K! Even at $55K, that's still trying to convince buyers it actually has $25K of additions over the base car- not remotely worth it. It should be $40-45K, right in the STI/Evo range since it's on the same level.

    So what about the Cadillac ELR?  That is a $76k FWD econo car.  The CLA is definitely a cut above the STi and Evo, those cars have no luxury features really and basic interiors.  The CLA starts more than $10k above an Impreza, I can easily see a CLA AMG costing $50k, but at $60k I think Mercedes themselves have better options.

     

    The CLA45 does get 23/31 mpg, that is pretty good for a 355 hp car, so I do have to give it credit there.  I have also seen car magazines with the 0-60 time clocked at 4.2 to 4.5 seconds, that is pretty fast.  There aren't many 4 doors pulling 0-60 in the low 4's, so when you think of it that way, it isn't such a rip off.  Still not a car I'd buy though, but there will be a market for it.

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    ELR is a stunner in & out, but I sure would have liked to see a Tesla-esque performance out of it to justify the price better. It's world's nicer in & out than the CLA, tho, from what I've seen & read. But the tag is too high there, too.

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    So an Impress WRX and a Chevy Impala would be competitors? Or the ATS and Lacrosse are competitors? Obviously price is a big criteria, but size and driving characteristics of the car are nearly as important.

    The CLA AMG doesn't have a lot of direct competitors, but I do agree at $63k there are many better options new or used. If the CLA45 for $47k base included airmatic and the premium package standard it think it would he a good deal and if the loaded price was more like $55k I could see that. Personally I am not a CLA fan, I don't like the car much, but if an STi or Evo is $40 grand then I can sort of understand the CLA's price.

    Not sure also why everyone assumes Mercedes have such high repair costs when they are constantly near the top in 3rd party reliability studies. And look at resale value, a 200k mile Cadillac or Chrysler or Lincoln is worthless, I have seen 10 year old, 200k mile Mercedes selling for $12,000 or more.

    You must live in a special market as Mercedes and BMW over 100K sell side by side with Chevy, Ford, Buicks. I have not seen them hold higher resell values like what you state.

     

    In regards to repairs, the average tune up on BMW and MB runs 1500 compared to 500 for a cadillac and others. The one thing I hear all the time from coworkers is how much they complain about the cost of maintenance and repairs. When you compare them to Cadillac or even Infiniti and Lexus, BMW and MB are at the top in regards to repairs and maintenance. I have to assume this is one reason they tend to cover all maintenance now for the first 50K miles but then so does cadillac and others.

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    ELR is a stunner in & out, but I sure would have liked to see a Tesla-esque performance out of it to justify the price better. It's world's nicer in & out than the CLA, tho, from what I've seen & read. But the tag is too high there, too.

    I have test drove the ELR along with the VOLT and they are Night and Day different beast and I agree with you the inside is so nice you cannot compare the two. The ELR beats the CLA's hands down as a superior car and superior interior.

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    Does the ELR go 0-60 in 4.2 seconds?  Superior depends on what you are looking for, if you want performance, the ELR is no good.  If you want a luxury car, then you aren't buying a CLA AMG when you can get an E-class for that money.

     

    I will say the Mercedes dealer charges a lot, but I think a lot of dealers do and the Mercedes dealer always gives you a free loaner car which is nice.  But my car has a 13,000 mile oil change interval, there is spark plug replacement every 100,000 miles and engine coolant every 150,000 miles, and air and fuel filters are the same as any other car, transmission fluid is every 40,000 miles.  Pretty standard stuff and you don't need to go to a dealer for that.

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    Does anyone do 0-60 in 4.3 seconds in regular driving? When that becomes relevant to sales I guess that will be the ELR's issue... but in the meantime I think its poor sales performance has more to do with the fact that it is a $79000 coupe.

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    The CLA45 is a Cruze/Focus competitor?  It is faster than a CTS V-sport.  Last I checked the Cruze couldn't do 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, and the CLA interior is a lot nicer than a Focus.  The CLA45 is probably the only car on the market that has over 350 hp, does 0-60 in under 4.5 seconds and gets over 30 mpg.  Off the top of my head I can't think of any other car that can claim that, especially not a sedan.  I think $64k is too much for one, but I think $70,000 for a Tahoe is too much, and $42,000 for a Nissan Maxima is too much; there are a lot of over priced cars out there.

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    The CLA45 is a Cruze/Focus competitor?  It is faster than a CTS V-sport.  Last I checked the Cruze couldn't do 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, and the CLA interior is a lot nicer than a Focus.  The CLA45 is probably the only car on the market that has over 350 hp, does 0-60 in under 4.5 seconds and gets over 30 mpg.  Off the top of my head I can't think of any other car that can claim that, especially not a sedan.  I think $64k is too much for one, but I think $70,000 for a Tahoe is too much, and $42,000 for a Nissan Maxima is too much; there are a lot of over priced cars out there.

     

    WHO THE F CARES!?!

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