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
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)
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