2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Review

Booted version of the maniac Mercedes hot hatch

By Shahzad Sheikh

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Review

The Mercedes A 45 AMG hatchback is my favourite Mercedes of last year. You can read my review here.

Watch the video review:

Mercedes claims that this CLA 45 AMG is pretty much exactly the same car underneath as the A 45 AMG. So compared to a ‘regular’ CLA (although on the Middle East pricelists this is the only version offered) this car is lower, with big black wheels and just looks like a squat little beastie.

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Review

It also means it’s fitted with the most powerful 2.0-litre four-cylinder ever, putting out a staggering 355bhp, delivered to the road by standard all-wheel drive via a 7-speed dual clutch paddle-shift auto.

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Review

Identical 0-100kph acceleration times of 4.6seconds are given, and of course they both reach 250kph. This despite the fact that the CLA is 338mm longer and 30kg heavier. Mercedes has also revised the suspension settings slightly to compensate for the length and weight. The wheelbase is identical on both cars though.

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Review

Visually and in isolation, the CLA pulls of that trick of being both a sensible Mercedes saloon, and mean enough to pick fights out on the streets. Having said that it doesn’t quite look as wild and unruly as the striped and be-spoilered A 45 hatchback with its gaping air vents and winglets on the front bumber. As tough as the CLA looks, the A 45 is meaner.

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Review

Drive it normally and it does a pretty good impression of a regular Merc, apart from the slightly jittery ride – smooth enough on motorways though – and you can be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about.

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Review

Press the traction control button once and it goes into Sports mode (why doesn’t it have a separate ‘Sports’ button?). Then the exhaust loosens up and gets all snarly and barky with occasional meaningful flatulence. The aggression levels get turned up and it transforms into a wannabe contender vying for a part in the next Fast & Furious instalment.

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Review

Push through the front-wheel drive bias of the car, and the rear grips and hurls this car through corners, it’s nippier than the steering would have you believe. Like the hatch, it’s more accurate than it is feelsome, but after a while you get to learn to trust it. Honestly I only really started to get on with this car shortly before I had to give it back.

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Review

But despite Merc’s insistence that this is the same as the A45 AMG but with a handy boot (not so handy really as it ain’t that big and a downsized spare wheel consumes some of it) I have to say it does feel different to the hatch as I remembered it.

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Review

It doesn’t feel as urgent or alacritous, nor as nippy or aggressive, plus the turbo lag seems more pronounced and the engine runs out of revs too soon. Even the exhaust isn’t as snarly or parpy as the A 45 which generally sounds like a rally car even whilst driving around looking for a parking space in the mall.

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Review

Verdict

If I hadn’t driven the A45 AMG, I might have been really impressed with what Mercedes has done with the CLA 45 AMG, a modern day successor to the fabled 190 Evo II but with an additional 120bhp.

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Review

But the smaller, punchier A45 AMG, sounded better, went harder, looked cooler. We’re only talking differences in small fractions here, but when you chuck in the fact that it’s also over AED25k cheaper, for me the hatchback is still the one to get. And remains a clear winner.

Pictures shot at the New Ras Al Khaimah Kart Track – read about here

2014 Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Review – The Specs

Price: AED237,275 ($64,600)
Engine: 2.0-litre Turbocharged 4-cylinder, 355bhp @ 6000rpm, 332lb ft @ 2250rpm
Transmission: 7-speed DCT automatic, All-wheel drive
Performance: 0-100kph 4.6 seconds, Top speed 250kph, 7.0L/100km
Weight: 1585kg

Which would you choose? The CLA 45 or the A 45? Tell us in the comments below

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