CLA-Class (incl AMG)
Boasting beautiful streamlining and incredible aerodynamics the CLA-Class is packed with elegant and sophisticated design features. And the performance certainly lives up to high expectations too especially in race-inspired AMG guise.
The goodIncredible performance and handling
The badPositioned in a fiercely competitive segment
Mercedes AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Plus Coupe – First Drive (2020)
Every once in a while, a car come along with muscular, dynamic styling plus the thrilling performance to back it up – the Mercedes AMG CLA 45 is one of those models.
Boasting gorgeous coupe streamlining, plus an engine and exhaust soundtrack guaranteed to raise eyebrows wherever it passes, this Mercedes priced at £58,045, seemingly has it all, including a 0-62mph sprint time of 4.0 seconds.
Powering the AMG CLA 45 S is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine delivering 421hp and a whopping 500Nm of torque. The top speed is limited to 155mph, but you just know without the restrictions the car would go much faster. With regards to the running costs, the Mercedes can deliver a pretty reasonable 33.6mpg on a combined run with carbon emissions of 189g/km.
Eye-catching design cues on this racing-inspired model include bundles of AMG-specific features such as the radiator grille, rear apron with diffuser look and spoiler. It has an AMG aerodynamics package, plus an AMG Night package that adds lots of high gloss black trimmings and there is a panoramic roof, multibeam LED headlights, four exhaust pipes and 19-inch AMG alloys with red brake calipers.
Move inside and that AMG theme is just as prevalent within the cabin with plenty of badging throughout, along with performance seats with fixed head restraints, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, 64-colour ambient lighting, the finest leather upholstery and soft touch materials.
On-board technology is plentiful with two 10.25-inch touchscreens, a Burmester sound system, full smartphone connectivity, the impressive MBUX multimedia system with navigation, and a media display with, yes you guessed it, lots of extra AMG-specific content which is excellent for analysing track data.
But for normal day-to-day driving, which in reality is anything but normal, the information on the screens can be tailored to your needs via steering wheel controls and the graphics are really sharp. The touchscreen is easily accessed via a touchpad with additional quick keys to certain functions.
So, this car has the looks and all the high-end technical kit to accompany them, but what about that performance? The answer is simple – the Mercedes AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Plus Coupe is a driving purist’s dream car. The acceleration is blisteringly quick as it punches its way through the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The power is relentless and there are even various drive modes to sharpen up the responses even further. These are called Slippery, Individual, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and RACE. Accessing these modes is a simple process via a dial on the steering wheel – that means your focus remains on the road instead of searching through fiddly touchscreen menus.
The road holding is super-grippy and bends can be attacked with utter confidence thanks to pin sharp reactions and there are steering wheel mounted paddles for extra driver engagement. The steering is perfectly weighted with all the feedback necessary and, despite its firepower, the car maintains a sense of invincibility.
No matter what you throw at it, this Merc comes out the other side with a swagger in its step. That’s probably down to the wealth of on-board safety kit to help protect the occupants, pedestrians and other road users alike. The car also features Mercedes 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, with for the first time, a Drift mode.
And then when a moment of calm is called for, simply switch across to Comfort and the world seems to spin at a slower pace. The ride is more controlled and this is the ideal mode for trundling through congested city centres – unless, of course, you want the attention the enhanced exhaust sound attracts.
Comfort levels within the four-door coupe are impressive and the adaptive suspension means that many of the smaller dips and bumps in the road are well cushioned. You will feel quite a lot of jolts from our dreadful roads, but that’s a small price to pay in exchange for such a brilliant all-round performance.
Powered seats mean its easy to find a perfect driving position and they can be heated to fend off the winter chill. There is space in the back for a couple of passengers although leg room becomes a tad limited if the front seats are pushed well back.
The boot can swallow 460 litres of kit and there are a number of handy storage compartments scattered throughout the car, including a cubby box beneath the armrest, glovebox, door bins with drinks holder, cup holders and a covered tray with a wireless charging pad. Back seat passengers get pull-out cup holders in the fold-down armrest, along with a small compartment where two extra Type C USB ports are located.
All in all, this new AMG CLA 45 S really is quite the complete package for anyone who wants a car that drives as majestically as it looks without stepping into supercar costs along the way.
Mercedes CLA 200 CDI Sport Shooting Brake
With its beautifully dynamic sports coupe styling plus its five-door practicality the Mercedes CLA 200 appears to be the complete package. And when you spend a few minutes behind the wheel, those initial thoughts are confirmed as correct.
The car looks fabulous from any approach thanks to its sleek aerodynamic styling along with a whole host of design cues such as the diamond radiator grille, halogen headlamps with integrated LED daytime running lights, 18-inch alloys, body-coloured bumpers, door handles and mirrors, privacy glass, chrome beltline strip, plus twin rectangular tailpipes.
Open the doors and your attention is instantly drawn to the stylish, illuminated door sills and once you take your seat (heated of course) behind the multi-function steering wheel you soon realise there are techno treats galore at your disposal.
On-board features include a seven-inch tablet style touchscreen, a six-speaker sound system with CD player, USB port, sat nav, a reversing camera with parking guidance, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone automatic climate control and plenty more besides.
The cabin is clutter free and oozes sophistication at every turn with careful attention to simple things like the circular chrome air vents, smart instrument clusters and easy use of the technology.
It feels like a truly premium quality model and offers all the bells and whistles one would associate with the Mercedes name.
Comfort levels are excellent for the driver and passenger, but it can be a little cramped for back seat passengers. That’s because the front seats feature quite large integrated head rests and this contributes to the rather claustrophobic feeling for rear seat passengers on longer journeys.
But that aside the car was an absolute delight to drive and after clocking up more than 500 miles during my week-long test drive, I was still being impressed by the vehicle’s dynamics and performance.
The 2,143cc diesel engine delivers ample grunt with a constant supply of power on tap. And acceleration through the seven-speed automatic transmission is also beautifully slick and smooth. The CLA 200 can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 9.9 seconds and tops out at 134mph. According to official figures, it can achieve a creditable 68.9mpg on a combined run with carbon emissions of 106g/km.
The car was very composed and grounded and the road-holding was sure-footed which meant tight bands could be attacked with confidence.
In addition, the highly-efficient suspension system manages to iron out any unexpected creases and bumps along the way. Even when pushed quite hard there was minimal engine, road or wind noise to be heard within the cabin which is another plus-factor.
The powered-boot is generous in size and can accommodate 495 litres of luggage. This capacity is increased considerably with the split-folding rear seats dropped flat and elsewhere there are a number of smaller compartments scattered throughout the cabin.
As one would expect, Mercedes has ensured the CLA 200 is kitted out with a comprehensive range of safety features, including collision prevention assist plus, numerous airbags, attention assist which monitors driver fatigue, lamp failure indicator, tyre pressure monitoring, brake pad wear warning indicator, cornering dynamics assist and lots more.
All in all, the CLA 200 Sport is a beautiful piece of kit. If I were being particularly picky, then I was rather disappointed that a vehicle priced at £29,225 (£31,210 with options) didn’t come fitted with electrically-adjustable seats.
But that aside, it oozed class and elegance, handled beautifully, is richly-equipped and delivers exhilarating driving dynamics while maintaining reasonably good economy along the way.