Mercedes-Benz is adept at finding new and interesting niches to give customers an ever-widening choice of vehicles within its range. One such car is the CLA, dubbed in some circles by the ugly word ‘coupaloon’, which mixes design elements from four-door saloon with coupé. Now, the AMG CLA35 gives it real bite as a driver’s car.
The AMG CLA35 features the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz assistance and safety systems. Active Brake Assist (previously known as Collision Prevention Assist Plus), can trigger autonomous braking to reduce the danger of rear-end collisions.
Attention Assist warns you if you show signs of fatigue. Active Distance Assist Distronic, which features technology from the S-Class, allows semi-autonomous driving in certain circumstances.
The CLA shares a lot of its engineering and architecture with the A Class, but the four-door coupé styling has a character all its own. The windows are frameless giving it a smoother side profile and the swooping line of the roof down to the boot says ‘sporty’ in a very appealing way. AMG-specific styling elements include a new radiator grille with the classic AMG twin louvres and an AMG Line front apron with what Mercedes calls ‘flics’ on the air inlets. Another distinctive AMG feature is the 18-inch twin-spoke alloy wheel design. At the rear, you’ll notice a new rear apron with a diffuser insert, a small spoiler lip on the boot and two round tailpipe trims on the left and right.
Inside, it’s no E Class for rear seat passengers but assuming you’re not attempting a long continental trip with five 6-foot adults, driver and passengers will be more than comfortable. AMG interior features that are specific to this model include leather-and-microfibre-trimmed sports seats, red seat belts, a centre console in piano black and a steering wheel with a flattened lower section, perforated leather in the grip area and red contrast stitching.
The AMG CLA35 is closely related to the AMG A35 hatchback, so it’s powered by the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine that develops 306HP and drives all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Full throttle acceleration delivers 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds and a healthy 400Nm of torque from 3,000 rpm means that instant overtaking capability is always on tap.
Drive is infinitely variable between all the power going to the front wheels and a 50:50 front/rear split, while the chassis control technology includes AMG DYNAMICS, an integrated dynamic handling control system that varies the levels of ESP® intervention according to the driver’s preferences. During hard cornering, the system can intervene imperceptibly to brake the rear inner wheel, for impressive agility and control.
Like all CLA and A Class models, the AMG CLA35 features the acclaimed MBUX infotainment system with its Siri-like ‘hey Mercedes’ voice command. However, you can also control infotainment by touchscreen, a touchpad on the centre console or touch-sensitive panels on the steering wheel. MBUX can be programmed to user preferences as well as using artificial intelligence to adapt to your needs, or in some cases anticipate them. Among the many ‘surprise and delight’ features are a customisable ambient lighting setup with 64 colour options.
AMG-specific technology can be found on the centre console where the standard touchpad has extra buttons to control ESP®, manual transmission mode and Adaptive Damping System. Owners can also choose between three AMG display styles,“Classic”, “Sport” and “Supersport” on the instrument cluster.
The biggest competition for the CLA35 comes from within its own AMG stable. The AMG A35 is a five-door hatch with the same drivetrain and technology as the CLA35, is just as beautifully appointed inside and has equally thrilling performance. The choice comes down to aesthetics; feisty hot hatch or compact four-door coupé. Whichever you choose, you’ll come back from the test drive smiling.
|Vehicle Length||4630 mm / 182.3 in|
|Vehicle Width||2032 mm / 80 in|
|Vehicle Height (unladen)||1432 mm / 56.4 in|
|Wheelbase||2699 mm / 106.3 in|
|Unladen Weight (DIN)||1585 kg / 3494 lb|
|Engine / Cylinders||2.0 litre / 4|
|Engine Capacity||1991 cc|
|Max Torque||450Nm @ 2250-5000 rpm|
|Max Power||265kW @ 6000 rpm|
|Top Speed||155 mph|
|Acceleration||0-62 mph / 4.6 seconds|
|Combined Cycle||39.8 mpg|
|Urban Cycle||31 mpg|