Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: February 24, 2016
Let’s take a trip back to 2013. Daft Punk’s Get Lucky was being repeated on the radio and Mercedes-Benz had just announced the introduction of the CLA-Class to the European and American markets. At first glance, I was horrified. Front-wheel drive, 4 cylinders, and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg to own? How in God’s name could this car be called a Mercedes?
Mercedes HQ in Stuttgart was quick to anticipate that many would dismiss the new CLA 250 as a dilution of the premium brand. They put things into motion by calling up the AMG madmen in Affalterbach to take this CLA and put it through the automotive equivalent of boot camp. I really admire their “no-wait” attitude of introducing a performance iteration of a model immediately rather than waiting two or three model years like some other manufacturers.
As a result, in less than a calendar year, a new animal was born and aptly named the CLA 45 AMG. Power from a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder rocketed the CLA 45’s output from 208 to 355 hp. Torque was now at 332 lb-ft compared to the anemic 258 lb-ft figure found on the 250 model. The interior was better, the styling was more aggressive, it was mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, and the addition of Mercedes-Benz’s patented 4MATIC system meant punching the car in launch control gave you an extreme amount of grip, sending up to 50 percent of power to the rear wheels.
To celebrate this momentous occasion, Mercedes decided to bestow the CLA 45 AMG with an “Edition 1” trim option for the first model year. It was a limited production run available to the Canadian market and was capped at 65 models. I am one of the lucky few that had a chance to drive one.
The Edition 1 features a unique colouring package with standard black or white paint with red accents, AMG stripes, and a set of special wheels (this tester had 18-inch winter tires instead of the stock 19’s). The interior of this Mountain Grey Metallic example was fitted with the same black and red theme and a vast amount of Edition 1 badges.
I’ve driven a fair amount of turbocharged four-cylinders in the past including the WRX STi, the Golf R, and the Mazdaspeed3. While some of these vehicles performed well beyond my expectations, the CLA 45 left me breathless.
Set the car in Sport Mode, switch to shifter into Manual Mode, lean on the brake pedal, pull back on both the paddle shifters, and the car prompts you with a very intriguing proposition. Engage Race Start? Why yes. I would like to have one of those.
Stomp your foot on the gas and the engine revs up to 4,000 rpm, creating an anti-lag exhaust note that I’ve only ever heard on a Subaru WRX rally car. Let go of the brake pedal and the car launches like a Saturn V, sending your body back into the sport bucket seats. Even on less-than-ideal surfaces, the car bites hard into the pavement. In optimal conditions, you’ll reach 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds, and then after letting off the throttle, you’ll get a chance to breathe again.
This car is not for the faint of heart. The CLA 45 is quite able of thrusting you into next week, immersing the driver with a bombardment of sensations. This AMG is not the quiet and insulated work of art like their typical products, but rather a rougher and brawnier German powerhouse that was designed to rumble and roar its way around town instead of tiptoeing. The boisterous exhaust note barks when up-shifting from first, to second, and then to third, as the AMG SPEEDSHIFT dual clutch transmission works its magic.
The CLA 45 also has an ECO Mode that will keep revs low and turn off the engine when at stop lights in order to save fuel. Why anyone would want a mode like that in an AMG vehicle beats the hell outta’ me. Do yourself a favour and keep the car in Sport Mode for a more visceral and track-ready driving experience. Even after a go through some twisty roads and a lead foot, I still returned respectable fuel numbers of 10.0 L/100km.
The CLA 45 AMG Edition 1 presents great performance numbers, but it is not quite the best bang for your buck. The CLA 45 AMG starts at $49,800, and as specified, this Edition 1 rounded up to $61,000. For that amount, you can find yourself in an Audi S4, or even a base Porsche Cayman (and I mean an incredibly base Porsche Cayman). The CLA 45 is more powerful than both examples, is definitely more visceral, but to be able to front the bill to a Chevrolet C7 Corvette for less than this CLA, I think I’d rather go with the 455 horsepower and 1,495 kg Stingray.
Still, the Edition 1 is an incredibly rare car in an odd automotive niche and justifies its price with standout features and graphics. I wouldn’t be surprised if this AMG would even be able to retain a fair chunk of its value after you’ve finished paying it off.
Unlike most test cars I drive every week, this model is not quite exactly what you would call new. After 36,000 km this CLA 45 is still holding up fairly well, and after speaking to the owner about ownership costs, he said it has been a dream to own. Anyone thinking that Mercedes had skimped out on the entry-level AMG product should start paying closer attention. The baby AMG is here to stay.
型号 Model: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG Edition 1
顏色 Paint Type: Mountain Grey Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $49,800
試車售價 Price as Tested: $61,250
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,700
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,691 / 1,778 / 1,415
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,584
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged, direct injected four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 355 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 332 lb-ft @ 2,250 rpm
波箱 Transmission: AMG SPEEDSHIFT 7-speed dual clutch automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Independent MacPherson struts
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Independent multi-link
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: 350 mm ventilated, slotted, and cross-drilled disc with four-piston fixed calipers
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: 330 mm ventilated, slotted, and cross-drilled disc with single-piston sliding calipers
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 10.2 / 7.6 / 9.0
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.0
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P235/40ZR18