When it was New: 2014 Mercedes AMG CLA 45

Germany is a country filled with great roads on which to drive fast. The Autobahn is most likely what comes to mind for anyone thinking and hoping to drive in Bavaria. But don’t let a superspeedway be your only inspiration. The country two-lane highways are equally thrilling, though for different reasons, and it is here I have my first chance to experience the open road driving the 2014 Mercedes AMG CLA 45.

Thrilling is an overused word in the English language, but not in this case. You see, there are several reasons to get very excited about the new Mercedes AMG CLA 45, not the least of which is what lies under the hood. Whereas most high-powered sports coupes or sedans rely on a V6, V8 or in some cases V10 for performance, the newest AMG sedan does not. Instead, it pounds the asphalt with a serious dose of 4-cylinder power and torque, the likes of which are rarely seen.

Power comes in the form of a direct injection, twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine. Delivering 26 psi max boost pressure, it brings an unprecedented 355 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 332 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,250-5,000 rpm to the party. Matched to an AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed sports transmission, it’s more fun than loose fitting lederhosen on a windy afternoon in late September, beer stein in hand, of course.

Zero to 100 km/h takes 4.6 seconds; top speed is electronically limited at 250 km/h. Steering is rack and pinion, with the AMG model including sport suspension and all the electrical assistance you could possible want, or not as overrides are included. The CLA is by default a front-wheel drive vehicle. Equipped with AMG 4MATIC all-wheel drive, available wheel traction ranges from 100-0 (front/rear) to 50/50.

Sitting at the table for breakfast one morning with Dr. Gerald Thater, the head of AMG powertrain development, his energy for this unprecedented engineering achievement resonates with every with every word. Not only is it the most powerful 4-cylinder production engine available in a passenger car today, officially it also represents the highest power density of all series production passenger car engines. Simply put, it offers the most small engine bang for the buck on the planet. And it comes from Mercedes-Benz, not the first automotive company to come to mind when talking about small engines.

But that’s not all. The sound, oh that exhaust note is so sweet!

Temporary ignition interruption during upshifts allows for a series of “brap-pop” sounds to exit the rear with each gear change. The sound improves by switching the CLA 45 AMG into “Sport” mode. Germans of all ages take notice as we hurry past, banging the gears in rapid succession with steering wheel mounted paddle-shifters at every opportunity. For the most part, their looks are stoic. But I know there’s a broad, proud smile just below the surface.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG

AMG high performance brakes offer superior stopping power with four-piston rear, single-piston front caliper design. Red calipers are standard on the 2014 Mercedes AMG CLA 45 here, though several of our test vehicles are equipped differently. Wheel options range from the standard 18”AMG designed 5-spoke to multi-spoke 19” alloys in either Titanium Grey or Matte Black metal finish.

Exterior highlights include the use of halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights in front. The rear houses uniquely shaped taillights with two LED fiber optic elements for front to rear design continuity. Bi-xenon headlights are standard.

If there are two features that bring different opinions to the table when discussing the CLA, it is generally the design of the front grille and rear trunk area. The twin-blade AMG grille is, in my opinion, very striking and a perfect match for the car. Not all agree.

The front bumper splitter comes standard in Matte Titanium Grey, with our test vehicle showing carbon accents. Down the side, a turbo AMG badge identifies this as something unique. Quad chrome-trimmed exhausted pipes fit nicely with the rear diffuser, offering a powerful view to all those left behind. That said, not everyone favours the unique profile of the hindquarters. Upon reflection, I have to agree it isn’t my favourite attribute on the CLA.

Inside, the 2014 Mercedes AMG CLA 45 is all business and comfort. These are truly some of the best sport seats I have ever sat in. They grip in all the right places, offer exceptional back and leg support while adjusting to almost any body size with ease.

Dash vents covered in aluminum trim are large and push great gobs of air into the interior. Gauges are easy to read, the 3-spoke steering wheel molds to my hand, all that’s left to do is start the car and go. If ever there was a reason to mothball the V8 engine, this might be it.

Pricing has yet to be determined for the Canadian market, though I suspect it will be in the low $50,000 range. When it finally arrives here in November, roads and highways throughout Canada will never be the same.

2014 Mercedes AMG CLA 45
Model: 4-door sport sedan
Configuration: front-engine/all-wheel drive
Available engines: 2.0L 4 cylinder turbocharged
Available transmissions: AMG 4MATIC
Warranties: 4 years/ 80,000 km (basic); 5 years/unlimited (corrosion)
Competitors: Audi S4, BMW 335i, Infiniti Q50

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