Just because you’re in the market for a seemingly sensible executive saloon, there’s no need to assume that your driving days will be filled with motorway-based drudgery. Not when, among the fuel-sipping diesels, hybrids and downsized petrol engines, there are cars like the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 S.
Now, on the face of it what sits under the CLA45’s bonnet doesn’t seem all that special; after all, even non-AMG CLAs are available with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. However, the 45’s is different, even to the AMG CLA35’s, and is handbuilt using racing knowhow to produce a mighty 415bhp.
Thanks to four-wheel drive and an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, the CLA45 hurls itself from 0-62mph in 4.0sec dead. But its four-wheel drive system does more than just provide great traction; it features a clever rear differential that can vary the amount of power sent to each rear wheel, boosting agility and allowing AMG to build in a thoroughly mischievous drift mode.
What’s more, all the performance gubbins don’t come at the expense of practicality; you still get four doors, five seats and a big boot, too. Should you need a little more space or need to carry a dog in the boot, a Shooting Brake (read stylish estate) version is on the way.
When you come to consider rivals, there’s one car that stands out more than any other: the Audi RS3 Saloon and its sonorous five-cylinder engine that’s similarly powerful. Of course, you could also consider the less practical BMW M2 Competition or more sensible, larger Audi S4.
To find out if the CLA45 can live up to its on-paper promises, keep with us over the next few pages to find out if it’s fun as well as fast and whether you could actually live with the thing day to day. And don’t forget to peruse our New Car Buying section for big savings on all manner of new cars.