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Old 10-16-2013, 01:59 PM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default Warning: Weapons-grade four-cylinder underhood.

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When Mercedes-Benz sends a model to AMG for high-performance finishing school, it’s hardly news. But until the CLA, nearly every car to make the trip to Affalterbach was packing an engine with a “V” cylinder layout. (The C30 five-cylinder diesel was the lone exemption, and it never made it stateside.) So when the power brokers at AMG began dropping not-so-subtle hints that they’d already had their way with the CLA’s inline four-cylinder powerplant, our curiosity was piqued. Would the result be a roguish, hair-triggered toy or a true CL63 AMG mini me, blending breathtaking power with Mercedes style and luxury?

Sound and Fury
If you’re expecting the deep-throated burble of its bigger AMG brethren on startup, you’ll be disappointed, as the CLA45’s exhaust note at idle is more akin to an air compressor kicking on in the neighbor’s garage than it is to a menacing V-8. But it would be a mistake to write it off on tone alone. AMG has managed to coax 355 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque from the 2.0-liter engine, much of it on the shoulders of a twin-scroll turbocharger capable of force-feeding the engine with up to a whopping 26.1-psi of boost. To make sure all the internals stay contained under all that duress, AMG uses a special crankshaft, pistons, and a sand-cast aluminum block, which is stronger than the die-cast unit found in the pedestrian CLA250. A dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission with three driving modes funnels the prodigious output through a standard all-wheel-drive system.




Thanks to a butterfly valve plumbed into the exhaust, the CLA45’s song begins to sound sweet around 3000 rpm and gets better as the revs climb. The power comes on early, pulling with the steady determination you’d expect from an engine that produces all 332 lb-ft of peak torque from 2250 to 5000 rpm; redline is 6700 rpm. Stay into it until it’s time to shift—either automatically or initiated by the steering-wheel paddles—and you’ll be rewarded with a downsized version of the familiar bruuuump that accompanies gear swaps in the bigger AMG models. Using launch control, which allows the engine to climb to 4000 rpm before storming off the line catapult-like, we posted 0–60 times of 4.2 seconds, and knocked off the quarter-mile in 12.8 with a trap speed of 110 mph.

Although it has a front-drive bias, torque is variable up to a 50/50 split, the distribution based on a laundry list of variables including vehicle speed, steering angle, gear selection, accelerator position, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, as well as any differences in wheel speed. All that processing power translates to confidence-inspiring stability on the straights and mild understeer in the corners, traits that had us wondering if the CLA45 might be too sterile in our first drive. We found the speed-sensitive electric power-steering assist to be accurate if not chatty.

Selecting Sport mode delays stability-control intervention and allows for increased torque at the rear axle, making it easier to counteract understeer with a heavy right foot. You’ll be left to your own devices when the stability control is defeated entirely—in the CLA45, “off” truly means off—except during braking; AMG has granted the stability control a Hail Mary feature of sorts that reactivates stability control whenever your foot is heavy on the slow pedal.

Speaking of binders, we managed to haul the CLA45 to a stop from 70 mph in just 152 feet. Discs span 13.8 inches in front and 13 inches in back, increases of 1.2- and 1.4 inches over the discs on the CL250. Repeated stops showed slight fade, but the pedal remained firm and high, and the car straight.

Of Price and Prejudice
Performance aside, the CLA45 has a hard time hiding its comparatively humble origins. The interior follows MB’s current design ethos, but a quick look at the plastics around the lower center stack and the bottom of the door panels reveals where a lot of the cost cutting took place. We also noted the car’s Jupiter Red finish peeking through a gap between the door panel and the trim on the B-pillar, and the 5.8-inch display screen looks like an aftermarket unit due to the way it’s positioned atop the dash. Although it’s easy to get comfortable in the power front seats, room in the back is tight.



By the time our test car cleared the order department, it had added the $2200 Premium package (satellite radio, dual-zone climate control, heated seats, Harman/Kardon premium audio, garage-door opener, compass, and auto-dimming mirrors), the $2370 Multimedia package (rearview camera, COMAND system and enhanced voice control, with hard-drive nav, six-disc changer, 10-gig music storage, and SD card slot), and the Driver Assistance package (blind-spot and lane-keeping assist, and radar cruise control). From the ŕ la carte menu we added Parktronic Advanced Assist for $970, a Carbon-Fiber package (front splitter, side sill inserts and rear fascia trim) for $950, and a panoramic sunroof for $1480. All in, our car’s as-tested price reached $58,845, nearly double the $30,825 base MSRP of a rank-and-file CLA250.

Whether that price discrepancy will help or hurt sales is up for debate: Certain buyers likely will dismiss the CLA45 as a pretender to the AMG throne, but its comparatively low price and fresh perspective on performance might entice a demographic less burdened with preconceived notions about what those three letters stand for. Regardless of how the sales numbers ultimately sort out, it’s a good bet Mercedes will find at least a few people looking for a car with a three-pointed star on the nose and a weapons-grade four-cylinder under the hood..
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Old 10-16-2013, 02:06 PM   #2
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So they will send loaded up models to the states, ashame. Loaded up at 58 i would get s4. then at 35/40 I would just want an STi , tough call..
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Old 10-16-2013, 02:24 PM   #3
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At $60k I would probably take a look at the ATS-V when it gets released. I don't have that kind of money lying around though. I have been taking an interest in the S3 for something that should have some luxury and still provide reasonable fuel economy when I'm not having fun blasting around corners. But for the $40k-50k I expect an S3 to cost I could get similar fuel economy from a WRX or STi and save $10k-20k. I think the proper manual gearbox in the Subaru is likely more fun to play with.

Is the luxury worth the cost?
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Old 10-16-2013, 02:32 PM   #4
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just get a VW instead of S3, Golf R
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Old 10-16-2013, 09:27 PM   #5
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true dat
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Old 10-16-2013, 09:40 PM   #6
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i'd be happy if the new STi can pull these numbers and keep the current price LOL.
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Old 10-16-2013, 09:42 PM   #7
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26 pounds of boost!
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Old 10-16-2013, 09:48 PM   #8
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At $60k I would probably take a look at the ATS-V when it gets released. I don't have that kind of money lying around though. I have been taking an interest in the S3 for something that should have some luxury and still provide reasonable fuel economy when I'm not having fun blasting around corners. But for the $40k-50k I expect an S3 to cost I could get similar fuel economy from a WRX or STi and save $10k-20k. I think the proper manual gearbox in the Subaru is likely more fun to play with.

Is the luxury worth the cost?
Exactly. I'd be looking for a very different car at $60K.

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26 pounds of boost!
Forged bottom end baby!
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Old 10-16-2013, 10:00 PM   #9
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I'm very anxious to see what tuners can do with the new cla amg
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Old 10-16-2013, 10:31 PM   #10
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I was hoping it came in just under $50K. I was considering this as my next car, but for almost $60K, I can get a base CLA and an ERL 2.0 motor for my Evo and have the best of both worlds for less money.

Then in reality, I would probably just drive the Evo everyday and the CLA would sit in the driveway depreciating. This is why I don't by comfy cars, they're boring.
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:11 PM   #11
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It's an impressive engine for what it is (350+ hp out of a 2.0T or basically any four-cylinder in stock form and meeting whatever regulations there are to meet is great), but like others have said, it's a lot of money for that kind of car, and you're already looking at other options in that price range that are likely a lot interesting.

I've been seeing a lot of CLAs on the road lately, and frankly its proportions look kind of goofy to me. The taillights at night (which I saw on the way home) don't look all that great. So that kind of exterior asking for $60k, even with that engine, is going to be tough. I'm sure people will buy it, but for the same money you could already just about get a base C63 AMG or base E550 4matic sedan... both of which are more adult looking and already very quick.
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Old 10-17-2013, 08:48 AM   #12
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Isn't the CLA also wrong wheel drive? That definitely points me in another direction.
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Old 10-17-2013, 10:40 AM   #13
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Isn't the CLA also wrong wheel drive? That definitely points me in another direction.
CLA 250 is wrong wheel drive but they will offer an awd option next year.

CLA 45 amg on the other hand only comes in awd.
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Old 10-17-2013, 11:41 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Mach V Dan View Post
26 pounds of boost!
That was my reaction!!!

355 horsepower torque with a peak or should I say, a plateau of 332 lb-ft of torque from 2250 to 5000 rpm from a 2.0-liter engine.

That's amazing.

Now let's wait and see what BMW brings in the new M2

William
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Old 10-17-2013, 12:07 PM   #15
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I'd be looking for a very different car at $60K.
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Originally Posted by Scooby921 View Post
At $60k
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Originally Posted by Optimus Prime View Post
but for almost $60K
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Originally Posted by DeeezNuuuts83 View Post
for $60k
It's $48k. You don't have to add $10k in options.
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Old 10-17-2013, 12:15 PM   #16
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Just wish Subaru had offered a DCT with launch control as an option for the STI. It's low tech low boost 300 hp should be good enough for some similar times as this.

CLAMG is in an unfortunate pricing vortex. Love its concept as a ridiculous hatch, but as a sedan, nope.
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Old 10-17-2013, 12:29 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by William WRX View Post
That was my reaction!!!

355 horsepower torque with a peak or should I say, a plateau of 332 lb-ft of torque from 2250 to 5000 rpm from a 2.0-liter engine.

That's amazing.

Now let's wait and see what BMW brings in the new M2

William
Impressive indeed... but again, we are talking about Mercedes and AMG... a lot of engineering capabilities and a massive budget. But still crazy! I remember thinking how crazy it was when the first US-bound Evo had 19 psi, then upwards of 20 psi in the Evo IX. But with the AMG's peak boost and that flat of a torque curve that high... wowzers.

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It's $48k. You don't have to add $10k in options.
Good luck finding one on dealer lots when they come out... I guarantee the vast majority of dealerships will order them with a plethora of features, just like how most M3s on BMW lots are usually closer to $70k. Even if you custom order one, very few people end up getting option-less MBs anyway, unless you really want zero of the things that make a Benz, a Benz... just like how the CLA starts at $29,900. That's just for advertising to make it sound "affordable" to the masses so you don't need to sell your soul to the devil for one (as in the commercial), but you'll want all the stuff that will get it well into the $30k range.
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Old 10-17-2013, 02:06 PM   #18
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Even if you custom order one, very few people end up getting option-less MBs anyway, unless you really want zero of the things that make a Benz, a Benz.
Do you really need to spend $1500 on a panoramic sunroof, $1000 on carbon fiber trim, $1000 on a self-parking function or $2500 on radar cruise control + lane/blind spot assist? Because without those things, you're not going to get over $53k.
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Old 10-17-2013, 02:07 PM   #19
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But we just went from $48k to now $53k... not quite $60k yet but it's not quite $48k either with options that you feel are things that you (and other people) would want
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Old 10-17-2013, 02:23 PM   #20
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It's $48k. You don't have to add $10k in options.
As above, I very much doubt you'll see a stripper on dealer lots.
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Old 10-17-2013, 02:49 PM   #21
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But we just went from $48k to now $53k... not quite $60k yet but it's not quite $48k either with options that you feel are things that you (and other people) would want
No, we went from $60k to now $53k just by getting rid of things that are definitely not needed (such as auto-parking assist in a compact car or cosmetic cf trim). I can't say whether or not I'd want the Harman/Kardon audio or the Nav, because that'd depend on how good the stock system is in terms of sound and connectivity.

The point is, it's not a $60k car unless you tick every box, in which case it'll have a bunch of stuff that isn't even available as an option on a lot of other cars.
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Old 10-17-2013, 02:56 PM   #22
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I can accept that, but it's not a $48k car either, unless you want to special order an option-less base model from Germany or hunt down the one per hundred, thousand, whatever number on some distant dealer lot.

Not arguing -- but would you have been satisfied with how the car would have been configured if you un-checked every box and got it down to the starting price?
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Old 10-17-2013, 03:10 PM   #23
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No, we went from $60k to now $53k just by getting rid of things that are definitely not needed (such as auto-parking assist in a compact car or cosmetic cf trim). I can't say whether or not I'd want the Harman/Kardon audio or the Nav, because that'd depend on how good the stock system is in terms of sound and connectivity.

The point is, it's not a $60k car unless you tick every box, in which case it'll have a bunch of stuff that isn't even available as an option on a lot of other cars.
The problem is that most manufacturers are bundling the annoying useless **** with the features you want. I was looking at the UK Audi S3 configurator (because there isn't one for the US yet) and you can't get the xenon headlights without also getting auto sensing wipers which you can't get without adding some other active safety feature. You also can't have the larger display screen and upgraded NAV system without getting the backup camera which also requires adaptive cruise, lane departure warning, and a lot of other annoying features to help stupid people NOT remove themselves from the gene pool. I know it's difficult and expensive to piece-meal every option in the car, but I really wish the governments weren't so focused on promoting poor driving. The lack of active safety features would cut several thousand dollars from the cost of a car.
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Old 10-17-2013, 03:43 PM   #24
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It sucks, but for something that is going to be slightly more limited production such as the S3 you are referring to, it's difficult for them to be so customizable when it's not going to be an uber mass-produced car. I think the A3 lets you pick-and-choose those options separately, but again, there are far more A3s, so they have room to have more configurations.
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Old 10-17-2013, 03:48 PM   #25
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I can accept that, but it's not a $48k car either, unless you want to special order an option-less base model from Germany or hunt down the one per hundred, thousand, whatever number on some distant dealer lot.
As far as I'm concerned, cars aren't an impulse buy anyway, so I don't mind ordering it ahead of time. Don't see the point in spending thousands extra just to get instant gratification.

Quote:
Not arguing -- but would you have been satisfied with how the car would have been configured if you un-checked every box and got it down to the starting price?
Personally, I'd have to listen to the stock audio system. The premium package with the Harman/Kardon system is the only option I may be interested in. Xenon and power seats are standard, as is BT, BT audio and a USB port.

Don't need the multimedia package because my phone does navigation, I don't use CDs and I don't need to spend money on a 10 gig music hard drive or an SD card slot if I can just plug in a 64 gig flash drive.

What else is there? CF trim? Nope. Panorama roof? Nope. Driver aids? Nope. Self-parking? Nope. And that's the end of the options list.
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