2014 Mercedes CLA45 AMG Review
Car Tested: 2014 Mercedes CLA45 AMG
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 88.83 lakhs
Stretching the CLA45 AMG’s turbo four past the mid-range gives an instant mental high
The past few days have gone in remaining up late at night and praying hard, no, neither have I been burning the mid-night oil, nor have I turned spiritual but it’s the football world cup which has kept me up till late, while praying for my favourite team to win. You see, the football world cup comes only once in four years and even though one can skip any other match, missing a final is simply not plausible. Germany won the world cup and within the next four hours, I had a red hot German speed rocket at my doorstep, the CLA45 AMG, what better way to celebrate Germany’s victory by relishing in the force fed madness offered by the world’s most powerful 4-cylinder engine. Mercedes’ clever strategy has helped them kill two birds using one stone, with the CLA45, not only do they introduce Indians to the CLA but also to their most affordable AMG offering. But this isn’t an AMG like you have seen before, there is no V8 here, so what gives?
Exteriors – The CLA is the sedan based on the A-Class and the resemblance is striking at the front. The side profile reveals the coupe lines of this compact sedan which features a sloping roof that neatly merges with the boot. The design influence from the CLS is apparent at the rear. The CLA in stock guise is also a very attractive car and the AMG version is simply irresistible in appearance. This car is very aerodynamic, having a drag co-efficient of just 0.23, making it one of the slipperiest cars in the world. It has very smooth flowing lines giving it a sleek profile.
Being an AMG, you get all those go-faster bits which clearly signal at the intentions of this 4-door performance car. While in size, it isn’t any bigger than a D-segment car, it still has loads of presence with an attitude which few can match. Right from the body kit to the massive rear diffuser, all look so sporty yet elegant on this Afflerbach tuned machine. Larger air intakes and aluminium accents are immediately striking while the 10-spoke 18-inch wheels proudly flaunt the CLA45’s big fat discs and red brake callipers. The biggest give away about this 2.0-litre engine not being your regular run of the mill motor are the quad-exhausts at the rear.
Interiors – The cabin is familar to the A-Class but this being an AMG, it gets sportier add-ons for that go-fast feel. The steering gets Alcantara on it and that does give it an awesome touch. There are aluminium pedals, silver finishing on the dashboard and red contrast sticthing. Unlike the regular CLA, the gear selector lever on the steering has gone missing, you instead get a small and stubby gear knob in the centre, between the seats. The steering wheel gets paddles, which have a solid feel. Weirdly though, the horn does not work when the car is off.
The CLA45 AMG also gets sporty bucket seats from Recaro, with heated function. These offer ample support and are a snug fit. While you sink in them without any issue, the same could be a problem for people with a heavy build. Still, for the average sized guy, these seats are just fantabulous. Adding a dose of sportiness are the seat-belts, they are finished in bright red which does go in sync with the car’s overall character. There is a large sunroof as well and as expected, interior quality is on par with what we have come to expect from Mercedes-Benz.
Not that you would but just in case you do step in the rear, you are in for some disappointment. Just like the A-Class, the CLA isn’t welcoming for a back bencher. While leg and knee room is good, the rear seat is upright and headroom is poor. The sloping coupe like profile does hamper rear seat headroom and most passengers are likely to scrape their head to the roof. Further hampering the rear seat experience are small windows. While the cabin is a nice place to be in for adults at the front and children at the rear, some equipment like a push button start is always expected from an AMG model, this car using a traditional key.
Performance – The Mercedes CLA45 AMG is powered by a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder engine which is codenamed M133. This unit is the world’s most powerful 4-cylinder engine in production, thrusting out an impressive 355 raw horses at 6000 RPM and 450 Nm of twisting force between 2250 to 5000 RPM. To get all that output smoothly, Mercedes engineers have used the best of hardware like NANOSLIDE cylinder lining, friction optimised piston rings and a twin-scroll turbocharger to name a few. The boost pressure is equally insane at 26.1 PSI, with 0-100 km/hr claimed to be breached in 4.6 seconds, top speed being policed at 250 km/hr.
The Mercedes CLA45 AMG is light with a load of power on tap, it weighs just under 1600 kgs
The Mercedes CLA45 AMG isn’t its strongest in the low-end but once you get into the peak of the torque band, it does take off with instant urgency. You do need to give the big turbocharger some time to spool up and the lag is evident at get-go. Mid and top-end is where it’s at its best, the revs rise quickly and the 6500 RPM redline is reached in no time. There are three engine modes like always – Controlled Efficiency, Sports and Manual, the latter two being the one to rock your boat. There is an ECO start/stop function as well which tries all it can to return higher km/l numbers but guess what, before that kicks in you stomp the big pedal and have already fled past 200 km/hr in like no time, laughing incessantly at the efficiency pundits. Still, with all that heavy foot driving, the CLA45 returned an impressive 7 km/l. With a lighter foot and some sense kicked in you, extracting 8.5 km/l won’t be difficult at all. However, like all other AMGs, the CLA45 too is a car which feels best when you put the pedal to the floor, the rush it gives you is addictive. It’s so quick that no other car at this price point does the sprint to the ton as quick as this.
The 7-speed gearbox shifts quickly and finds the right cog for you almost all the time, get into manual mode and it won’t upshift (even if you tap the throttle repeatedly), the redline increasing to 6800 RPM. You can manually change gears in all modes but it’s only in Manual mode does it not intervene your quest to play high revving poker. 100 km/hr comes in third gear while you flogging the gearbox in 7th gear at the same speed will mean 1500 RPM on the tacho, lot of peaceful cruising here as engine noise is barely audible. Still, give it the stick and you will see 200 km/hr in no time. The 7th gear can go as low as 62 km/hr while going pedal heavy will make you do 62 to 250 km/hr in just ONE gear. That’s where the AMG madness comes into play, 50 km/hr in first, 80 km/hr in second, 130 km/hr in third, 180 km/hr in fourth while fifth will take you past 220 km/hr, it just keeps going.
Still, the CLA45 isn’t an AMG which sounds like what AMG cars are known to sound, there is no aural racket, instead there is a muted hiss at best, making you wonder if those quad exhausts are really doing their job. There is no engine noise on part throttle at low speeds but when you do floor the A pedal, there is the turbo whistle on song. There is a kickback from the exhaust when the gearbox shifts near the redline but overall the CLA45 AMG doesn’t produce the same monstrous orchestra of its elder siblings. And just in case you are wondering, the 45 in the name comes from the 450 Nm of torque this powerplant produces.
Driving Dynamics – Another area where the CLA45 isn’t as much as an AMG as what we have been seeing for years now. Power isn’t channelled to the rear wheels only, the CLA being underpinned by the MFA front-wheel drive platform uses a 4MATIC all-wheel drive system in AMG trim which is mostly forward biased resulting in some understeer on the limit. Rev the engine till 3500 RPM with your left foot on the brake pedal and let go, the CLA45 AMG launches beautifully, no wheelspin, just pure and hard traction all the way. There is so much grip on offer, be it rain or speed, nothing affects the composure of this 250 km/hr road rocket. Braking performance is super awesome, the strong brakes working like anchors to stop this car right in its tracks, no fade felt.
Still, it’s the track where the CLA is more befitting, because the ground clearance is ridiculously low. The side skirts almost always touch on a speed-breaker, even if you go sideways and crawl over it. Heck, it’s so low that it even touches the underbody on a rumbler! The low clearance does help in stability and handling, the sharpness with which the CLA45 AMG claims a corner is razor sharp stuff. It’s as sharp as a knife, if not sharper and the steering is beautifully weighed throughtout, giving a fluidic feel and immense feedback. The ride is on the stiffer side and those low profile tyres coupled with the stiff suspension do no favours to the ride quality.
Verdict – Mercedes-Benz is on an ////AMG attack. In the past one year, the CLA45 becomes the fifth model from the German automaker’s performance brand to grace our shores. While there are some unpractical bits on the car, the positives far outweigh them. The way the CLA45 AMG gathers speed is truly astonishing, it’s fast in a way which can make your hair stand while keeping your grin intact. The handling is excellent, the steering accurate, the brakes strong and the design pure eye candy. This is not only the most affordable AMG, it’s also the best way to lose your sanity and we simply love it for that.
The CLA45 is a different sort of AMG, it isn’t big, fat with a 8 or 12-cylinder motor giving it propulsion, instead it uses turbo power with lightness to tickle your speed senses. While it isn’t cheap, it does make you go “Ah My God”.
* Gorgeous design
* Handling and stability
What’s Not So Cool
* Low ground clearance