The AMG CLA is a bit on the firm side bit it’s very easy to drive fast.
A 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol might seem a little ordinary for a Mercedes carrying the esteemed AMG badge. However, nothing is ordinary about 381hp, 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds and a 155mph (limited) top speed. The Mercedes even verges on frugal – fuel consumption of around 38mpg is deeply impressive for such a quick car.
The amazing power output is achieved by fitting a large turbocharger. It’s an old-school way of increasing power and that translates to the way the CLA 45 drives – after pressing the accelerator pedal there’s a noticeable delay before you are pinned into the driver’s seat with increasing force.
Easy and controllable if a bit too predictable
Compared to the howling straight six of a BMW M240i and the off-beat rumble of the WRX STI, the four-cylinder Mercedes isn’t the class leader in terms of sound. However, it’s one of the most harmonic four-cylinders currently on sale – something that is further enhanced by the pops and crackles of the £460 optional performance exhaust.
The AMG 45 model gets an electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system that gets special traction and stability control calibrations allowing for a neutral handling balance that extends to controlled powerslides in slippery conditions. On a twisty stretch of rain-soaked road the Mercedes might not bring the sort of enjoyment a BMW M240i will, but you’ll be tucking into your second bratwurst by the time the M240i has completed the same set of corners.
Criticism is leveled at the standard CLA for being too firm for UK roads, but that is not the case with the 45 AMG, fitted with the optional £595 adaptive dampers. In Comfort, it’s no Rolls-Royce, but does a good job of dampening out the worst of potholes. Switch it to Race and there are very few performance cars that can keep up with the 45 AMG in the rain.