Mercedes CLA 45 AMG review

Category: Performance car

Section: Performance & drive

Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 launch rear left cornering
  • Mercedes-CLA-45-AMG-2020-review
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 launch rear left cornering
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 LHD dashboard
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 LHD rear seats
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 dashboard closeup
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 front right panning
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 front drift mode
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 rear left tracking
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 LHD dashboard detail
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 LHD front seats
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 LHD boot open
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 grille detail
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 wheel detail
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 rear end detail
  • Mercedes-CLA-45-AMG-2020-review
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 launch rear left cornering
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 LHD dashboard
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 LHD rear seats
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 dashboard closeup
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 front right panning
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 front drift mode
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 rear left tracking
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 LHD dashboard detail
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 LHD front seats
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 LHD boot open
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 grille detail
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 wheel detail
  • Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 2019 rear end detail
What Car?’s CLA 45 AMG deals

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Let’s start with the obvious: the CLA 45 is ridiculously fast. Engage launch control when the road is dry and there’s barely a single horsepower wasted as the car hunkers down and fires you forward like few other cars on the road, let alone executive saloons. We didn’t have our timing gear with us, but we can fully believe that 4.0sec 0-62mph time.

Let’s face it, though, you’ll probably use launch control a handful of times to entertain friends or scare your mum. What really matters is how it behaves when you just put your foot down and accelerate. Whether you’re stationary or moving, there’s the briefest of hesitations before the A45 rockets forward ferociously, firing through its gears swiftly yet smoothly. There is, of course, a manual mode which is faithful to your inputs, but some may prefer the extra interaction the M2 Competition’s traditional manual gearbox brings.

Now, if you’re reading this thinking the CLA 45 is a peaky monster that behaves like a bear with a sore head in traffic, prepare to be pleasantly surprised. Left in comfort mode, it feels no more recalcitrant than the regular CLA250 and is happy to trundle along quietly. Even with standard adaptive suspension, it is much stiffer than the regular CLA and feels a little firmer than the closely related AMG A45 hatchback, too. 

Although it can be a little jarring over crumbling city roads, it's perfectly liveable once you’re up to speed on less craggy surfaces. Yes, you’ll feel expansion joints on the motorway and be aware of most bumps on a country road, but tight body control means it never gets bouncy or uncomfortable.

We’d hazard a guess and say that those interested in the CLA45 will enjoy the odd B road blast, so how does it behave? Well, although its steering isn’t exactly bristling with feedback, you do get a few messages from the front tyres once you’ve got a little bit of lock on. Vitally, though, the weight feels natural and it’s easy to place the CLA45 exactly where you want it on the road.

Even in comfort mode, body lean is minimal although you can happily ramp it up to sport mode without it wanting to bounce you off the road. Not only does this limit lean and help it feel more eager to turn in, it starts to alter the behaviour of the rear differential. Sport + and Race suspension settings are too stiff unless you’re on the smoothest of roads, but thankfully you can soften things off in the more extreme modes if you want.