2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG. Click image to enlarge

Preview by Justin Pritchard, photos by Jonathan Yarkony and courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Before Mercedes-Benz’s sleek and highly relevant CLA-Class four-door coupe even hits dealers on our shores, the automaker has announced that the go-fast scientists at AMG have finished work on a special high-performance variant called the CLA 45 AMG.

Building on the standard car’s striking looks, turbocharged punch and compact Benz driving dynamics, the AMG model will turn the dial to 11 on power output and dynamics. Joining Canuck-spec CLA 250 models, the CLA 45 AMG will pack nothing less than a tuned-up two-litre engine, standard AWD and various track-validated upgrades that officials promise will elevate the standard model’s pleasing driving character to lusty new levels.

Model-specific wheels, body upgrades, badging and interior appointments help to set the AMG apart, while engineers have increased power and pleasure with the use of a great big honkin’ turbocharger and standard 4Matic AWD technology installed in the interests of all-season performance and the prolonged existence of the CLA 45 AMG’s tires. The AWD system operates in a fully front-wheel-drive mode to save fuel when needed, and can engage power to the rear wheels instantly when required, via an “always-on” hydraulic pump acting on the rear axle clutch assembly. Power distribution can be split up to 50/50 between the axles.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG. Click image to enlarge

Acting as the middleman between driver and drivetrain is the compact and lightweight SPEEDSHIFT 7 dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters. This piece of hardware can fire off semiautomatic gear changes in milliseconds, complete with rev matching in both directions – resulting in fantastic sound effects and mechanically driven joy for gearheads. In the CLA 45 AMG’s pursuit of leading performance and mileage figures (and to the bane of enthusiast drivers) there’s no manual transmission available. Booo!

Says Ola Källenius, Chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, “With the CLA 45 AMG, Mercedes-AMG is launching a unique and highly desirable automobile with all the typical DNA of AMG. A high-tech package that includes the most powerful series-production four-cylinder engine in the world as well as performance-oriented AMG 4MATIC all-wheel drive, it embodies Driving Performance at its best.”

A three-stage stability control system is on board to help drivers balance their skill level against the CLA 45 AMG’s capabilities. Fully engaged, the system works with the driver in exploring a ‘neutral’ handling dynamic, with a focus on safety.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG. Click image to enlarge

Briefly pressing the ESP button activates “ESP SPORT Handling” mode, which reorients system thresholds and control strategies for later intervention and increased power to the rear axle. Mercedes says that this “means more fun at the wheel for drivers who are keen to exploit the vehicle’s dynamic potential.” Translation? Dirty powerslides!!!!!

A “fully off” mode can also be selected to have the system keep its nose out of your business, though it probably shouldn’t be engaged, ever. In any mode, ‘Curve Dynamic Assist’ (the marketing name used by Benz for torque vectoring) can briefly brake inside wheels in fast corners, helping push the outer wheels through the bend at higher speed. Though the system is invisible to the driver, it increases stability and agility when you’re driving the pantaloons off of the car.

A new AMG-tuned sports suspension system helps here, too. Though the standard CLA 250 needed nothing in terms of additional handling and dynamic response, Mercedes says that revised elastokinematics (it’s a real word, we checked) in the suspension enhance things even further.

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