Monday, June 9, 2014

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA AMG: Personality, Style And Performance

Highlight: The 4-cylinder turbo pushes out 355 horses from underneath the hood. This type of power rivals many 6-cylinder engines.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $63,815 (Base Model starts at $48,375)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: air bags (front, side, knee and front windows); a tire pressure monitoring system; ABS; an electronic parking brake; brake assist system; and stability control

Standard Equipment:  3-position memory front power seats; pseudo-leather; a manually operated tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel; automatic headlights; a stop-and-start economy fuel saver; automatic turn-on headlamps; and an AMG performance package

Suspension System:

Front- Three link, coil springs, McPherson gas-filled struts

Rear- Four link, coil springs, gas-filled struts

Standard Audio: 

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty:  4 years or 50,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty

4 years or 50,000 miles

Bluetooth CompatibilityYes

USB and iPod Compatibility: Yes

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbo/355-horsepower

0 to 60 mph (sec): 4.5 estimated

Recommended Fuel: Premium

Standard Fuel Mileage: 23-city/31-hwy

Other Trim Levels:

CLA 250 (non AMG model)

What’s New: The CLA45 AMG is the high-performance version of the brand’s newest entry level sedan, the CLA.

Pros: There is so much to like about this sedan, which is truly seeking the thrill of being behind the wheel of a driver performance-oriented vehicle. While there are some dramatic effects with the exterior, and particularly with the 19-inch black wheels and the quad exhaust pipes, the real artwork is with the interior. The Recaro sculpted leather form-fitting front seats, the AMG performance suede-and-leather steering wheel and the red-stitching, which surrounds every nook and cranny of the cabin, turns the CLA45 AMG to a rolling art gallery.

Underneath the hood, this vivacious compact is driven by a fuel-efficient, but seemingly powerful 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbo, which whines-up as it pumps out 355 horses.

Our vehicle was outfitted with over $12,000 in factory installed options. Some of the features included one of the industry best crystal clear audio systems, the 450-watt Harman/Kardon, satellite radio, a 6-disc cd changer, a rear view camera, heated front seats, a dual climate control system, an oversized sunroof and an advanced parallel parking assist system.

Furthermore, our high-performance sedan was outfitted with a Driver’s Package, which consisted of electronic blind spot mirrors, a lane changing keep assist system and a radar-activated cruise control system.

Cons: While the styling of the vehicle popped both inside and out, with the AMG Performance package, many found the price to be a little high, even for a Mercedes. Mercedes owners, who we encountered on the road, took a double take, when they were told the price.

And, since there is currently no super-performance luxury competitor in this segment, Mercedes-Benz has this niche market on lock, until Cadillac’s ATS, which is slated to add-on a V-Performance Series that will push out over 400 horses, arrives on the scene. 

In fact, the ATS Premium, which is currently available for purchase with an all-wheel drive system powered by a 6-cylinder, pushes out 321 horses for approximately $52,000. The ATS has 34 less horses and is thousands less than the CLA45 AMG. So, the question we’re all asking is CLA45 AMG a little too pricey?

Also when the audio system is turned off, we found that the system 6-inch iPad-like pop-up fixed infotainment screen can’t display the rear camera. In our opinion, shouldn’t the rear camera work regardless of if the audio system is on-or-off? We were also disappointed that this well-equipped vehicle lacked both a push-button ignition starter and a keyless entry access system for both the doors and the trunk.

Moreover, to enhance the fun factor, why isn’t there a manual transmission available in the CLA45 AMG? Yes, there is a segment of the population who prefers a true manual not and not a controlled shifter.

The Verdict: We can’t deny that the CLA has been a home run for Mercedes-Benz. The vehicle is truly bringing in a new buyers to the brand’s showroom. While the basic CLA is popular, the CLA45 AMG just enhances the fun factor with its performance package. To us, it’s truly a work of art on wheels, especially when seated by the wheel. Although pricing is an issue for us, we truly believe Mercedes-Benz has a winner on its hands!

Competition: Cadillac ATS with the 3.6L-6-cylinder

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